Summary: Hebrew thought places great emphasis on a name; there is insight for us in The Revelation regarding His name (s), evil’s name (s) and our new name!
WHAT’S IN A NAME? (PART 2)
Sermon Objective: Hebrew thought places great emphasis on a name; there is insight for us in The Revelation regarding His name (s), evil’s name (s) and our new name!
Hebrew thought places great emphasis on a person’s name. We occasionally choose a child’s name because of its significance but in Hebrew culture the child actually strives to live up to that name. Their name is a reminder of their character, vocation, history, etc. Sometimes a traumatic event has so affected them that they change their name to coincide with their new identity or self-understanding. This happens a lot in the Scriptures doesn’t it?
Keep in mind, “The Revelation” is a Hebrew book. Its genre is Hebrew; it borrows images from Hebrew history and literature; and, therefore, it places a lot of significance on the names it uses throughout its pages.
If I may explain in a bit more detail: names are symbols in Hebrew thought.
Symbols can be used as names (or labels) that are worn or attributed to a person. This might be akin to our use of nicknames. If a person has the nickname “Stinky,” for example, there is probably a story behind that nickname that explains how it came about.
I know a guy nicknamed “pokey” another nicknamed “porky” and a girl nicknamed “princess.” In each case the nicknames are descriptive of some element of their personality, behavior, history, or physique.
Do you have a nickname? If so, it might be one you have “earned” as well. I have a family nickname … but I aint gonna tell you what it is!
My family had a reunion in Tulsa last week. There were a lot of people there I had not seen in decades. And many of them called me by my nickname rather than my given name. Interesting enough, once that started I began to “feel” like that nickname again. I “lived up to it” again, so to speak.
Again, the Revelation freely uses names and nicknames as “symbols.” There is a lot of overlap between the two. Both the symbols and the names help us understand the character or identity of the object, person, angel, or creature in question. That is important to remember. Much of what is read is therefore, figurative. Just like the nickname “princess,” points to a reality that transcends the title worn by the person in question.
Revelation 12 and 13 give us a lot of names and symbols that help us understand the nature of evil and the evil one. There are more throughout the book. All of them are important to help us get a composite of what evil is like.
What is the best way to undrdtand the nature of evil in this book? It is best understood as:
• “Death” (chapter 6)?
• “Destroyer” (chapter 9)?
• “A dragon” (chapter 12)?
• An enemy (i.e. “Satan” in chapter 12)?
• An accuser ( i.e. “devil” chapter 12)?
• A “beast” (chapter 13)
• A harlot (chapter 17)?
• A false prophet (chapter 16)?
It is all of the above isn’t it?
There are names we have given evil that are derived from The Revelation as well. For example, we call evil “The Antichrist” even though the book never uses the term to describe any personality found within it pages. John, the author of this book, is actually the one who coined the term in the New Testament. He is the only one to use it too. He used it five times in the books of 1 and 2 John to describe a person (any person) who opposes the Christ and His Gospel; but he never uses it in this book. You’d think that if it referred to a specific “evil super-ego” like many of the talking heads of eschatology suggest that John would have used the word; however that is not how he ever uses the term.
• 1 John 2:18 -- Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
• 1 John 2:22 -- Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.
• 1 John 4:3 -- but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
• 2 John 1:7 -- Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.