Scripture: from verse 2
you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
Observation: It’s not like the names God’s people already had were especially bad. The verse before uses “Zion” and “Jerusalem” which mean “landmark” and something like “peaceful hills,” respectively. The name “Israel” isn’t especially clear, but when it was given in Genesis it was accompanied by the description “you have struggled with God and man (or possibly gods and powers, the Hebrew is complicated) and have prevailed” so that name is probably a good one too.
But God has a new name planned for His people, one which He will give when the time is right. A new name and a new identity and a new understanding of who they are.
He has a new name for me, too. The names my parents gave me are also pretty good – my English first and middle names mean “judged pure by God,” and my Hebrew names mean “bride” and “little bird.” My current identity and my current sense of myself are pretty good. But God has a better name waiting. He wants to teach me a whole new way of seeing myself, one that I only get hints of now. His truth about me is way bigger than mine.
Application: Seek His truth about yourself.
Prayer: Father, I praise you because you made me who I am. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I will take it on faith that your work is marvelous. Thank you for having new knowledge for me. Help me to trust that you understand me better than I do. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 8
The desire of all our soul
is to remember You and Your name.
Observation: …which is a bit ironic, really, since we don’t know God’s Name. But that’s neither here nor there.
Hebrews 4 talks about how all God asked of the Israelites was that they trust Him (the verb used is often translated “obey” but the Greek says “trust” or “believe”), but they could not trust Him and were unable to enter His rest.
The problem with brains, of course, is that they forget about God. No matter how many times God tells me that I am valuable and holy and protected, I still turn around and get insecure and guilty and scared. When I forget God, I mostly get confused about life. When I remember Him, then I remember where I am and where the world is in relation to Him, and everything sets itself straight.
Application: Remember His name, enter His rest.
Prayer: Father, I praise you because you are the Proper Perspective through which I can see myself and my circumstances clearly. Thank you for telling me who I am and who you are. Help me to remember to trust you, even when life is scary and confusing. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 14 and 15
I fall on my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth receives its character.
Observation: That word translated “character” is another tricky one. It’s derived from the Greek for “name.” At the time this was written, people believed that names had power. Your name was the sum of yourself – your thoughts, authority, personality, everything – and to know someone’s name gave you understanding of them and control over them. There are several times when demons, meeting Yeshua, screamed that they knew His name, probably in an attempt to assert power over Him. And this idea is still powerful today – it’s a common part of magic in fantasy, and even without a magical component we attach a great deal of meaning and and thought to our names.
And here we learn that every family in heaven and on earth receives their Name – their identity, their character, their role and authority – from God. From the context I’m sure that this was meant to be about Jews and Gentiles, but it’s also about my family, and my husband’s family, and the family that we’re building together. It’s about your family. It’s about the Jews and the Irish and the Chinese and the Arabs and the people across the street. All of them, individually granted a unique identity by God.
Application: To love my name. To love my family. To love my married name, which has always been a bit of a struggle for me. To know that God has a calling for all of us.
Prayer: Father, thank you for my name. Thank you for my family name, for your calling on us. Thank you that we are not all the same, that we are not like others and they are not like us. Help us to work together to glorify you. Amen.