Focal Passage: Genesis 17:1-10;15-19
When I was born, the firstborn to my parents, my father and mother named me after the most important man in my father’s life — his father. Upon the birth of our firstborn, my wife and I named him after the man who held the utmost significance in my life — my father.
When our daughter was born, she was given the name of my deceased sister. The name of my wife’s father was given to our youngest when he was born. When my firstborn son had his firstborn daughter, he and his wife gave her his late mother’s name. When his second daughter was born, he and his wife gave her the name of his wife’s late father.
In other words, the naming of names is very important. Naming is passing on gifts that are so important and a reflection of things that matter. Many parents use the naming of their children to pass on to their child the character or love felt from a parent, friend, loved one, or perhaps to honor a dear loved one.
Names are a way to unite the past with the present and bring a sense of belonging to a family. The naming of names becomes important.
God also named names. With Abram and Sarai, He gave them new names. Abram became Abraham, and Sarai became Sarah. Changing names marked a significant moment.
For the fourth time (Genesis 12; 13:14-18; 15), God came to Abram and announced His covenant. He would (1) make Abram into a great nation, (2) bless Abram, and (3) bless Abram to be a blessing to all people. However, after some 24 years since the first covenant announcement, Abram only had one son, born from a slave. Now, at age 99, God announced that he and Sarai would have a son. How could such things happen?
In his waiting period for this covenant to happen, Abram never gave up hope. So much so that when God appeared, Abram fell prostrate before God twice.
When God renewed and expanded His covenant, two events marked the moment. First, Abram “laughed.” He and Sarai laughed at their perceived impossibility of what God said — that a child could be born at their age. They also laughed at the possibility of God’s declaration becoming true.
Second, God sealed the moment with names reflecting a new belonging and new beginning. By giving them new names, Abraham and Sarah became living embodiments that God’s promises were true.
As a bonus, God did not name their son, but allowed Abraham to name him with God’s preferred name of Isaac. In doing so, God united the past covenant with Abraham now to Isaac with His promise to “confirm my covenant with him as a permanent covenant” (Genesis 17:19).
God has also changed our names. No longer are we simply known by the names that our parents gave us. We are now identified as adopted sons and daughters of God (Ephesians 1:5). We now bear His name.
We belong to Him, and He has ownership of us. Changing our names becomes the greatest gift we receive — belonging to our Heavenly Father. B&R