What’s In A Name

Daniel 1:1-7
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

One of the first things Nebuchadnezzar did to Daniel was change Daniel’s name.

Why?

In some parts of the world even today, names mean something different than they do in the West. Names are an indicator of who a person is, or what sort of person the parents hope their child will become.

In the West, however, a name is just something parents call their child. A name is little more than a moniker or a handle.

For instance, my name is David. My parents did not mean to say anything about me by naming me David. They wanted to give me a Biblical name, so they chose David. For them, David was something that sounded nice, so they chose to call me this.

But in the days of the Old Testament, names were of very special importance, because they stated something about a person or an object.

Genesis 35:18 And as her soul was departing (for she was dying) she called his name Ben-oni {son of my sorrow} but his father called him Benjamin {son of my right hand}.

Genesis 25:25-26 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob.

Genesis 32:28 Then He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

Hosea 1:6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all.”

Hosea 1:8 When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son And the Lord said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not My people, and I am not your God.”

Hosea 3:16 “And in that day,” declares the Lord, “you shall call me, ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me, ‘My Baal.’ For I shall remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more.”

Exodus 2:10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

Names in the Bible come across to our Western ears sounding like one word. Daniel. David. Hosea. Abraham. They all sound like a single word. But these words are actually compound sentences. Daniel is a composite of three Hebrew words, Dan-i-el. Daniel in Hebrew is a sentence. It means “God is judge.”

“God is judge.” This is what Daniel heard every time his parents called to him.

“Come here, God is judge.”
“Over here, God is judge.”
“Stay out of that, God is judge.”
“That is very good, God is judge.”
“Go to bed, God is judge.”
“Mommy loves you, God is judge.”

What a powerful way to effect the thinking of a child.

God is judge grew up with the words “God is judge” ringing in his ears. He grew up hearing constantly the truth that God of Israel (El) is judge. You want to know why the Muslim mentality is so difficult to crack? Ask them why most of their sons are named Mohammed.

It was only a matter of time before the truth that God is judge became the bedrock of Daniel’s thinking. His foundation became, “God is judge.” Whatever might happen, whether the Lord give Jerusalem into the hands of Babylon or not, El, the God of Israel, is judge.

It is not exactly true though, that we in the West do not give our children names that mean something. We do indeed, but they are not the handles by which we call them.

Sometimes, parents give their children a very different kind of name.

“You disgust me.”
“If someone had told me what it was like to have children, I never would have had you.”
“You make me sick.”
“I wish you had never been born.”
“You are always ruining everything.”
“I just wish you would shut up.”
“You make my stomach turn.”
“One of these days that mouth on you is going to get you killed.”
For a child, who believes everything an adult tells them, these names become their identity.

I fear alcohol/drug abuse may be a passive/aggressive attempt to get even with the people who hurt us. I believe addiction speaks to the human cry for justice. We are addicted to revenge, because we are addicted to the need for justice.

And let me say right now, it isn’t just parents who give a child his “real” name. Sometimes it’s teachers, pastors, elders, grandparents, and sometimes other children.

We, as a human race, are addicted to the need for justice. We cry for justice. There is a great deal more to be said here. A great deal more.

But for the moment, Daniel was no child when Nebuchadnezzar changed his name. By the time Nebuchadnezzar captured him, Daniel had already grown beyond his formative years. God is judge, and it was too late to convince him otherwise. When brought food sacrificed to idols at the king’s table, the first thing God is judge did was respond accordingly to the truth that God is judge. He resolved to not defile himself with the king’s food, because God is judge. Instead, he asked the chief of eunuchs for vegetables and water.

This held true throughout the rest of Daniel’s life. Though he lived in a city filled with idolatry at every turn, he nevertheless lived in view of the truth that God is judge.

Names. They mean something.

God has revealed His name to His people.

Elohim – “the strong one.”
El Shaddai – “God Almighty.”
El Elyon – “The Most High God.”
El Olam – “The Everlasting God.”
Yahweh – “I Am”
Yahweh Jireh – “The Lord will provide.”
Yahweh Nissi – “The Lord is my Banner.”
Yahweh Shalom – “The Lord is Peace.”
Yahweh Sabbaoth – “The Lord of Hosts.”
Yahweh Maccaddeshcem – “The Lord your Sanctifier.”).
Yahweh Ro’I – “The Lord my Shepherd.”
Yahweh Tsidkenu – “The Lord our Righteousness.”
Yahweh Shammah – “The Lord is there.”

But God has also revealed that He has given His people a name, as well.

My special treasure. (Exodus 19:5)
The apple of My eye. (Psalm 17:8)
Chosen of God. (Colossians 3:12)
Children of God. (Galatians 3:26)
Saints. (Ephesians 4:12)
Beloved. (Ephesians 5:1)
Bride of Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2)
New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21:2)
Temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Vessels of honor. (Romans 9:21)
God’s remnant. (Romans 11:5)
People for My own possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
Kingdom of priests. (1 Peter 2:9)
Holy nation. (Exodus 19:6))

. . . and many more.

One of the first things Satan does in an attempt to undermine a believer’s faith is . . . you guessed it, refer either to God or the believer by a different name.

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” – Richard Dawkins, “The God Delusion”

Fool.
Superstitious idiot.
Hypocrite.
Bible thumper.
Unevolved.
Homophobe.
Murderer.
Liar.
Hater.
Hyper Calvinist.

and so on and so forth.

This is why it is important that believers remain in fellowship with other believers. Believers need to hear the names God has given them in Christ repeated again and again until their minds become entrenched, because they are constantly hearing the names Satan gives them repeated again and again when they are out there in the world at work, at play or on the internet.

NOTE:  On the March 4 episode of his radio show, Dr. James White named me a hyper Calvinist. Not only did he lie by stating that anyone who listens to his program has heard him explain precisely what the Arminian is inconsistent about (he has never done this), but he added to his deception by naming me a hyper Calvinist, all without addressing a single thing I said. Isn’t that interesting. I challenge him, and he refers to me by a different name. He doesn’t do that to the Arminian though, does he?

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About David Bishop

Gospel of Grace Church http://www.gospeldefense.com/about.html
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