Summary: Considering the names Beulah and Hephzibah to understand what it means and how desireable it is to be in a righ relationship with God.
Happy Watangi Day! For those of you who don’t know, that was this past week. Watangi Day is a New Zealand holiday. If you would like to learn more about it, ask the Hintens, they used to live there. I think I know why they left there now… There’s a hill in New Zealand called: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu
This Maori mouthful, translated, means "the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ’landeater,’ played his flute to his loved one." How fitting for Valentine’s Day this week! Now, this reads more like a short story than a name of some place, but, believe it or not, I learned there’s a longer one.
Guinness Book of Records, says the name of Bangkok in Thai, is longer:
This name is more like the history of the whole city rather than a name:
The land of angels, the great city of immortality, various of divine gems, the great angelic land unconquerable, land of nine noble gems, the royal city, the pleasant capital, place of the grand royal palace, forever land of angels and reincarnated spirits, predestined and created by the highest devas.
I also read that there’s an island in the Carolinas named “U.” Imagine it. If there was a university there, it could be called “U U” or “U of U” …and their mascot could be a female sheep!
Lot of interesting names out there. I’ll save some more for the rest of this series. Today, I’d like you to turn to Isaiah 62 and see some names, some that were changed, and then figure out with me why on earth that has anything to do with us right here now this morning.
Let’s start with this one:
Reject. Ignored. Unwanted. Those are names for the kid who’s always chosen last for the kickball team; it’s the only one from your graduating class not to marry; it’s the one person they failed to invite to the party; it’s the name of the person who was left off of the list of acknowledgements; it’s the girl who no one invited to the dance; it’s the job applicant who never even heard back from any place where he applied; it’s the student whose parents moved after he went to college…and didn’t tell him; it’s the person who sees someone in the mall that he knows, but when he waves, they act like they didn’t see him; it’s Charlie Brown, going trick or treating, and while everyone else is getting great treats, all Charlie Brown got was a rock.
Reject. Ignored. Not wanted.
There’s a word in the OT for this. It was even the name of 2 women, if you can imagine! Azubah. Why would anyone give their daughter that name? I’m not sure. And now that I’ve found it out, I wonder why my great, great, great, great, great, great, grandparents named their daughter Tryphosa Azuba Call. Time for a name change, if you ask me! Unwanted. That word, that name, gets applied to a whole nation of Jews in Isaiah 62:4.
There’s another name – Shemamah - this one applies to a whole land, not just the people. It’s a word that means “devastation, waste, desolation.”
Picture Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped; picture the Serengeti during the dry season. Imagine for a moment someone selling great farming opportunities in the Arctic North. There’s a goldmine to jump at. Desolation. Having all the fertile charm and warmth of the surface of the moon.
Understand, for a moment, that these were names God was positing for the nation of Israel, or rather, the 2 tribes that were left by the end of Isaiah’s life. They weren’t entirely there yet, but God was making it clear that those names would fit real well for them in the future. When God starts saying your name is Rejected or Devastated, you need to listen.
This passage takes us back a few chapters for us to really appreciate it. The short version can be read in just one verse:
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
The longer version is in the verses that follow: (3-8)
They had the sins of murder, lying, speaking wicked things, they had no integrity, no care about justice, they were full of violence, and crooked in all they did.
Your iniquities have separated you from God.
Now, if you’re living like you don’t care about God, you probably don’t want to have Him around real close anyway, right? The problem is that God’s involvement in our world doesn’t stop with that.
God is a just and holy God. He doesn’t tolerate sin. The first 39 chapters of Isaiah are especially about God’s judgment on people because of their sins. What’s coming isn’t a pretty picture…