Throughout the Old Testament alone, around 20 different names are used to refer to the One true God of the Bible. But why are these names practically important in your everyday life? The answer lies in the meaning of life and your very purpose for existence.
The Purpose of Life
What is the chief purpose of life? I go into more detail in this post What is the Meaning of Life?, but in short: According to Westminster’s Shorter Catechism,
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
We can only enjoy and glorify Him to the extent that we know Him.
The legendary Apostle Paul from the Bible states that everything is garbage compared to knowing God. His goal in life? His greatest desire? To know Him and be like Him.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11
We were created to know and glorify Him. The life we have is like a line that goes on forever. Only a tiny part of the line is our life on earth.
The rest of this line going on forever is our eternity. Our eternity can either be spent with God (eternal life) or separated from God and everything good.
What is Eternal Life?
Jesus tells us in John 17:3:
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
This life is a gift to you through faith in Jesus and all he did for you. Do you long for real life now- to know God now and forever? How can you have this peace? Read more in this blog: Got Peace?
If you already have this peace, then you know that:
Knowing God is Essential
The Bible says that the knowledge of God is The Key to Both Wisdom and Knowledge.
A Crazy Amazing Benefit of the Knowledge of God is just how much it is a safeguard for you from all kinds of scary and destructive snares.
Tozer has said that the degree to which we know God is The Most Important Fact About Us.
What’s the Importance of Names, Then?
If you agree that knowing Him is important, then how are you practically cultivating a close, intimate relationship with Him- one in which you Cultivate Awe of Him, then you know just how helpful it is to ponder who He is.
The Bible gives us so many ways to do that. One beautiful one that has meant a lot to me since I was young in my faith is- we can meditate on the names of Him. We can think about them, ponder them, and consider what they mean- how awesome He is, and how He has shown Himself as these names in our own lives and the lives of others.
Modern Name Selection
In modern times, we often choose names because they sound nice, we don’t have a negative association with them, and maybe they connect us to our past by reflecting a name from our family heritage. Now, I know plenty of people who carefully choose names for their children because of meaning alone.
When we chose our sons’ names, meaning was important, but it wasn’t the only thing. We did a lot of sorting to avoid names we had bad associations with- like, “Yeah, that name sounds good and has a nice meaning, but I have a really bad memory of a kid I grew up with that had that name and was a bully.” One of the middle names, we realized after choosing it, that it means, “bald.” I remember thinking after he was born, “Oh, well, We like the name. And he was born bald after all. I guess it fits.”
Extreme Significance of Naming
In the ancient world, naming was a very significant, powerful act that would affect that person’s future. Names were believed to have a strong influence over the destiny and unfolding character of the person. Because of this, naming wasn’t done lightly. Also, the privilege of knowing someone’s name was very special access indeed.
Names signify the essence of who someone is. They represent their character. Throughout the Bible we see God will change people’s names to redefine them after their core purpose or to better represent them once they come to know and follow Him.
After I began following Jesus and learned of the significance of names, I started to realize the weight of my own name. Angela means “messenger; bringer of truth” and Brooke means “small lively stream; God’s promise; everlasting purity.” Together, they instill a weighty purpose of bringing refreshing truth of God’s promise, like a spring of fresh, cool, babbling water, to people desperate for everlasting purity.
Does your name mean something that is significant to you? Did you name a child very carefully because of the meaning of the names? Please share in the comments below!
Special Access to the Knowable God
One very amazing aspect of God is that He has made Himself known to us. He is beyond our comprehension, but He delights for us to know Him personally. One of the saddest aspects of Islam to me is that Allah is unknowable. Yet, they hold the Bible to be God’s Word, and in it God clearly makes Himself knowable by revealing who He is through His names.
The Almighty God has made Himself vulnerable to us. He has given us special access to Himself. He has revealed to us names that reflect who He is.
Names for God reveal who He is. They define His essence. The remind us of specific aspects of His character.
Why So Many Names?
In Hebrew alone, the Bible uses around 20 names and combination of names to refer to God. Why so many?
Well, people call me Angela, Angie, Phalangees, Phalangela, Ang as variants of my name and nicknames. I can also be referred to as a Mom, Wife, Teacher, Professor, Cook, House Cleaner, Secretary, Landscaper, Swimmer, Singer, Gardener, Blogger, Writer. Each one shows a different aspect of who I am and of my relationships with others. No one name or title represents all of me.
God is so beyond our comprehension. His character and nature can’t be summed up in one word or definition. He has many different names and combinations of names to reveal different facets of Who He is, to catch a glimpse of Him in ways we hadn’t realized before, and to deepen our perspective of Him. Each name shows us a different aspect of His being and gives us insight into different relationships He has with those He created.
Translating his names from Hebrew has been quite hard. One name in Hebrew might have 4-5 meanings associated with it, but by translating it, we reduce it to one. By studying the meanings of God’s names from their original language, we can gain a deeper understanding and awe of Him.
Exploring the Names of God
In this blog series, we will explore the names of God. Be sure to follow my blog (scroll down to the bottom and you can enter your email on the bottom right) so you don’t miss them. I’ll be going through various Hebrew names of God from the Old Testament of the Bible. We’ll look at where they are found in the Bible and what they reveal about God.
My prayer is that we can meditate together on who God is through this series- that we would stand in awe of Him just a little bit more, and that by studying His names, we would grow in the knowledge of Him.
While You Wait For More of This Series
Why not explore some titles related to this?
- Crazy Amazing Benefit of the Knowledge of God
- How My Kids Can Know God for Themselves
- Life Untasted
- Got Peace?
- The Key to Both Wisdom and Knowledge
- How to Walk in: Coming Before the Throne of God
- Cultivating Awe
- Photo by Anika Huizinga on Unsplash
- Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash
- Photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash