Tag Archives: Names

Express Yourself

The Lord said to me, “Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.” So I called in Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah as reliable witnesses for me. Then I made love to the prophetess,and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said to me, “Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. For before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.”
Isaiah 8:1-4 (NIV)

The world of the ancient Hebrew prophets was a whacky place in which everything in their lives was fair game for being living metaphors of their spiritual messages. Marrying a prostitute, walking around the city naked strapped to an ox yoke, and building a city out of Legos in the middle of the city square in order to lay siege to it are among a few of the rather bizarre word pictures God had them act out.

The poor sons of Isaiah had the enjoyable distinction of being born to be given names from their father’s prophetic work. And, I have to believe it likely got them ridiculed and beat up on the ancient playgrounds of Jerusalem:

  • She’ar-Ya’shuv meant “a remnant shall return” which foreshadows the people of Judah who were taken into captivity in Babylon, and the remnant who returned to restore the temple (as told by Nehemiah).
  • Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz meant “spoil quickly, rush to the plunder” which foreshadowed the impending attack and plunder of King Ahaz’s enemies by the Assyrians.

While S-Ya and the Baz-man may have names that seem very strange to us today, the act of layering names of our children with meaning is not new. Taylor and Madison both have middle names that reference women in my family, one on my mother’s side and the other on my dad’s. While Madison is not named for the street I grew up on, I love the added layer of meaning it has for me. It is quite common to give children names layered with meaning by naming them after role-models, inspirational figures, Biblical characters, and etc.

We all do things metaphorically. We layer things with meaning. Metaphor is God’s language. It’s God’s modus-operandi in communicating. Made in God’s image, we all inherently do it. We express ourselves (who we are, and what we believe/think) in what we wear, drive, hang on our walls, do with our time, and post on social media. The prophets simply pushed the envelope. Prompted by God, they were more intentional and more creative with their metaphors.

This morning I’m thinking once again about how I wordlessly express myself, both unconsciously and intentionally. I am no ancient prophet, but it seems to me I have an opportunity, perhaps even an obligation, to be mindful and intentional in all the ways I express myself.

chapter a day banner 2015

A Car, by Any Other Name….

Tabitha Transports Taylor & Clayton from Their Wedding

So, in our family the cars have names. I know we’re not alone this (please, tell me we’re not alone in this). It seems that our autos become personified members of the family. Wendy’s 2001 Honda Accord is Sally. Our old 1991 Dodge pick-up was lovingly dubbed Tabitha by Taylor, who drove her to school for several years (Tabitha drove Taylor and Clayton away from their wedding). Madison’s first car was a Geo Metro that received the appropriate moniker, Squirt.

After many years of faithful service, Wendy decided it was time for Sally to be replaced. Admittedly, it’s a somewhat more greivous experience when you personify your cars, as if you’re hurting their feelings. So, she got her new car this past week (a Nissan Murano), but we didn’t know what to name it. Is it male? Is it female? We opted to wait on it and let the name come to us. All week we’ve referred to the car as “her” and “she,” so we were sensing it was female. Still, we didn’t have a name.

My business car is an RX350 named, shockingly, Rex. So it was yesterday, we were at Wendy’s folks and somehow the conversation came around to the naming of cars. In the course of the conversation I mentioned the fact that Rex is latin for “King” while Regina is latin for “Queen.” Wendy looked at me and it suddenly hit us at the same time. So, this morning we’re announcing to the world that Wendy’s new car is Regina (though we’ve determined her majesty prefers Reggie).

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 7

Names. Then God told Isaiah, "Go and meet Ahaz. Take your son Shear-jashub (A-Remnant-Will-Return) with you." Isaiah 7:3 (MSG)

Names have meaning. There can be historical meaning in a name (Just ask any "Doubting Thomas"). There can be linguistic meaning in a name (Thomas is derived from an ancient word meaning "twin," which was always a head-scratcher for me because I'm not a twin, but my brothers are). Names have literary meanings (Little Tommy Tucker, for example). Names give way to nick names (Tommy, T, TV, Tompt, and Tommer Toes are a few I've had through the years).

Our names are metaphors. Something which represents something else without using "like" or "as." The word "Tom" represents me. It's not "like" me. "Tom" is me. For better or worse, names become intensely personal metaphors to which all sorts of meaning can and will be attached in many different layers.

I find it fascinating that Isaiah chose to name his son Shear-jashub which means "A Remnant-Will-Return". The name of Isaiah's son was part of his prophecy. Isaiah's life-long message is of judgement and redemption, of doom and hope. He tells of Jerusalem's imminent fall and devastation, but also of God's eventual redemption and salvation. Today's chapter is a microcosm of his message. Doom is coming (in the form of Assyria's seige of Jerusalem) but also salvation (a virgin-born Messiah).

Part of Isaiah's message is that after the people are taken into captivity, eventually a remnant would return to Jerusalem (the prophecy was fulfilled and the story told in the book of Nehemiah). So, Isaiah names his son Shear-jashub and his son becomes, metaphorically, a part of Isaiah's message. Shear-jashub represented the future, and his name represented God's prophetic message. Isaiah's child became a living, breathing, walking representation of his life-long sermon.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and pio1976