Summary: Abram has his name changed to Abraham. (Powerpoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


A New Appearing (vs 1-2)

A New Requirement (vs 1b)

A New Name (vs 3b-5)

A New Bond (vs 9-22)



• "What's in a name?"

• Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet made this question famous.

• If you know the story you will remember that they fall in love;

• Before learning that they bear the names of rival families.

• Romeo is a Montague;

• And Juliet a Capulet.

• Willing to deny name before love, Juliet cries out,

• Then a few lines later, Juliet asks that poignant "What's in a name?

• That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."

• Well to the great bard of Avon in this play names are unimportant!

• But in the Bible names are very important!


• When we name a child today, we often choose a name we like,

• Or one we associate with something special.

• i.e. My daughter is Katherine Anna Curley.

• Anna is a family name that mum, grandmother etc. that all the girls have.

• i.e. My boy is named Arlo,

• That name was chosen after a folk singer called Arlo Guthrie;

• We chose it simply because it was unusual and we liked it.


• In the Bible names had deep significance;

• And were carefully chosen to have meaning and purpose.

• i.e. Positive example (Matthew chapter 16 verses 16-18):

• Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter - "rock" or "stone".

• i.e. Negative example (1 Samuel chapter 2):

• Ichabod was the son of Phinehas and the grandson of Eli, the “priest of the LORD.

• ‘Ichabod’ – ‘Glory of God had departed’.

In the Bible names had deep significance and were carefully chosen to have meaning and purpose:

• i.e. Longest name in the Bible: Mahershalalhashbaz (Isaiah chapter 8 verse 1 & 3).

• Which means; “"Hurry to spoil!" or "He has made haste to the plunder!""

• He sounds like an Israeli ‘Del Boy’ or ‘Arthur Daley’.

Often a name was chosen to represent who or what the parents hoped and expected their child to become.

• i.e. Moses' wife was named Zipporah, which means "bird”,

• A lovely name evoking beauty, grace and freedom.

• i.e. "Ruth" means "friend,"

• And the bible character called Ruth certainly proved to be an excellent friend.

• i.e. Zacchaeus, the small-in-height tax collector,

• Didn't exactly live up to his parents' hopes.

• His name meant "pure & good" a trait rarely attributed to tax collectors!

• And certainly not to this one – until one day he encountered Jesus!

Question: Why does God bother to change Someone's Name?


• God made the changes for a specific reason.

• The name change corresponded with a life change;

• From this moment on;

• The person whose name was changed was expected to how they were before!

• In today’s passage Abram would become Abraham;

• And Sarai would become Sarah.

• The name change was significant;

• Because for this elderly couple their lives would never be the same again!

Background information:

• Abram was 99 years old at this time.

• Twenty-four years ago Abram had left Haran, in obedience to the call of God on his life.

• (You can read about that in Genesis chapters 12 verses 1-3).


Signs You're Getting Old:

• You choose your cereal for the fibre, not the toy

• An "all-nighter" means not getting up to pee!

• You know all the answers but nobody asks you any questions.

• You smile all the time because you can't hear a thing others are saying.

• "Getting lucky" means you find your car in the parking lot.

• You keep repeating yourself.

• Your back goes out more than you do.

• Lawn care has become a big highlight of your life.

• You keep repeating yourself.

• You're wrinkled, saggy, lumpy, and that's just your left leg.

• You have trouble remembering simple words like...

• You still have a photographic memory but it no longer offers same day service.

• Your insurance company has started sending you their free calendar...a month at a time.

• You keep repeating yourself.

• My favourite:

• You sink your teeth into a steak...and they stay there!


• As we pick up the story Abram is not actually a very old man;

• More like middle aged.

• We know that people in the book of Genesis;

• Lived to what we would call an exceptional old age;

Now as far as we can tell, God has not spoken to Abraham:

• For thirteen years;

• Thirteen years of silence.


• I like the Les Dawson joke:

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