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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“‘I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.’ At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, ‘This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!’"—Genesis 17:2–6 (NLT)
I’ve written about this before, but I think it bears repeating . . . Names are such a powerful, important thing. Sadly, I feel like names have lost a little bit of their significance in today’s world. It seems, more and more, people are naming their children based on what’s cool or trendy, but give little thought to what the name they’re giving their child means.
In his book, The Power of God’s Names, Dr. Tony Evans wrote, “In Scripture, a name often connotes purpose, authority, makeup, and character. In fact, a person’s name is frequently seen as an equivalent of that person. Together, ‘name’ appears more than 1,000 times in Scripture and routinely carries with it the idea of power, responsibility, purpose, and authority. A name not only expresses the essence and significance of what is being named but also, when duly authorized, accesses the quality it conveys.”
This is what my wife and I wanted for our kids—to ensure their names would point them to Jesus and speak life over them. In fact, our daughter’s name, Zoe (which means “to live, experience God's gift of life”) Grace, directly reflects that!
In today’s passage, we see the Lord change Abram’s name to Abraham! After establishing this amazing covenant again, Abram fell to his face and worshipped El-Shaddai, a name that means God Almighty. He was given this beautiful promise, a covenant God made and sealed on His own, that didn’t depend on Abraham, but solely on God. His response, according to Matthew Poole, was “a humble sense of his own undeservedness of such favors; and partly in reverence and worship to God.” This should always be our response to the covenant of grace and redemption we have from God through Christ Jesus!
After this, we see the Lord say, “What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations.” This name, by the way, means “exalted father.” Think about that for a minute . . . God the Father, the everlasting, almighty Lord named someone exalted father! Isn’t that amazing? And guess what? It came to pass. Abraham is exalted as the father of the Jewish people and the father of faith. He was the vessel God used to bring about His people and His Son!
Friends, today we get to be called children of God because of the covenant Jesus made on our behalf with His blood. We bear His family name. What a beautiful thought!
DIG: Why are names important and powerful?
DISCOVER: Why did God change Abram’s name?
DO: What does your name mean? Look up the meaning and reflect on it.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.