Tag Archives: Isaiah 62

What’s in a Name?

you will be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
Isaiah 62:2b (NIV)

A friend recently shared with Wendy and me that their child had reached the age when they wanted to be called by the more formal version of their first name. This is not unusual. I remember hitting the age when I wanted people to drop what I considered the childish sounding “Tommy” and call me just “Tom.” That lasted until college when friends just stated calling me “Tommy” or “Tommy V” and I just sort of rolled with it. Our Madison went through a similar journey with her moniker. She asked that we drop the “Maddy” and call her “Madison.” Somewhere in her young adult years she came to accept “Maddy Kate” as the endearment with which it is used.

For millennia names were attached to specific meanings. The name given to a person was, itself, a metaphor that attached meaning to that person’s life. In fact, the study of names and their meaning is an interesting thread of study across all of God’s Message. Not only are name fascinating, but God quite regularly changes or gives people new names in the midst of their earthly journeys. Here are a few examples:

Abram becomes Abraham
Sarai becomes Sarah
Jacob becomes Israel
Hoshea becomes Joshua
Solomon also named Jedidiah
Simon becomes Peter
Saul becomes Paul

In some cases, the name changes were cultural, shifting from one language to another. Daniel was given the name Belteshazzar when he was taken into captivity by the Babylonians. Sometimes name changes were bestowed by others, almost like a nickname,  in response to an episode or event in that person’s life. Other times, however, it was God who did the changing and there was spiritual context to the change. Jesus told Simon that He was going to call Him Peter (which was also a language change, Petras was Greek for “Rock”) and added “on this rock I will build my church.”

In today’s chapter, the prophet Isaiah is promising the people of Judah that their momentary circumstances of devastation, defeat, destruction, and depression will give way to better times. The times, they will be a changin’.  And with the change comes a new name.

As I meditate this morning it strikes me that in some corners of our culture names have ceased to have any attachment to meaning at all. When I go on-site with clients and meet with teams I will regularly run across people with names with spellings and pronunciations simply made up by a parent. I even had one woman tell me this past month that her name was “meaningless,” and the subtext of the statement was that she felt a lack of meaning in her life. I found it fascinating that a name without common metaphorical meaning became, itself, metaphorical to her.

So, what do I call you?

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Featured image is a name cloud of popular baby names in 2010 from behindthename.com

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 62

Cubs win. hoist high a flag, a signal to all peoples! Isaiah 62:11d (MSG)

Perhaps the fact that it was Flag Day earlier this week caused this sentence to jump out of today's chapter. But, it got me meditating on the idea of flags and banners. We don't give a ton of thought to flags these days, but they still hold a quiet a place in communication within our world.

When I'm driving down the street and I see an American flag at half-mast I know that someone died. While boating at the lake I see the flags flying on various docks and quickly determine who supports Kansas (Jay-hawk or K-State flags) or Iowa (Hawkeye Flag).

As Chicago Cubs fans, Wendy and I purchased a large "W" flag to fly when the Cubs win. It hasn't flown much this year. Nevertheless, when we stick it in the flagpole and it flies outside the house, we proclaim that we're Cubs fans. We proclaim (a rare) victory. Everyone in the neighborhood knows that Tom and Wendy are Cubs fans and the Cubs won the night before.

When God tells us to raise our banners high, he's asking us to publicly proclaim him. God wants us to be willing, through our words and actions, to "fly the flag" proclaiming we are God's fans and proclaiming His victory.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and cjrphoto