Genesis 28:19: He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.
A change of name in the bible marks a new beginning. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel and that marked a new beginning for him (Genesis 32:28). The name of Abram was changed to Abraham, and his wife’s name from Sarai to Sarah (Genesis 17:5, 15). Though that did not immediately make their new beginning visible, it set them on the sure path to it
Names also have prophetic meaning. That was how we came about the name of Jesus (Matthew 1:29). He was not the first person to be so named. But for him the name conveys his destiny. It was not just a nice cute name, it conveys his mission. It constantly remind him of why he has come to the earth, kept him fixed on his divine mission.
Jacob decided to call a place Bethel because of the revelation of God he got while he was there (Genesis 28), the manifestation of the presence of God he experienced there. He saw the place as a portal, a gateway of heaven. He had a powerful experience there, named it and it became a reference point. What he saw that night marked a mighty encounter with God. Though he thought that he just all alone in the bush, he discover that God sees him, is with him and was committed by covenant to him.
Similarly, Hagar, the slave mother of Ishmael son of Abraham had an encounter with God at a crossroad and she gave God a name based on that encounter (Genesis 16). She had ran away from Sarai her mistress while she was pregnant with Abraham’s first child.
She felt she was all alone in the world. She was an Egyptian far away from her family; a slave, low on the social ladder, and in the wilderness, she felt really alone. But he had an encounter with God which changed her life. She had an encounter with God, who spoke to her through an angel. She discovered that contrary to what she thought, God sees her. And he gave powerful words of promises to her.
She gained direction from the angel of God who helped her to gain a different perspective on her situation, make the right choice even in her confusion. So she decided to give the God who appears to her a name which is: the God who sees. Through she felt alone, from the encounter, she realised that God sees her.
Abraham also had his own “naming” encounter with God. God told him to go to and sacrifice his son and he heard a voice from heaven which says, he should not but should replace it with a ram (Genesis 22). He named the place: the Lord will provide. That to him was the revelation of God that he got. The sacrifice that was supposed to cost Abraham everything (his son, was everything to him) cost him nothing. He experienced God as provider.
Samuel a prophet in Israel named a stone Ebenezer (1Samuel 7:7-13). Which means the stone of help. When the armies of the Philistines wanted to crush Israel when they were weakest, Samuel prayed to God, made a sacrifice, and God thundered from heaven and discomfited the foreign army and gave victory to Israel. On that day, they experienced God defending them supernaturally.
When you became a Christian, your name is changed from sinner to righteous, from sick to healthy, from poor to rich. Paul wrote that though Jesus was rich for our sake he became poor so that through his poverty we might become rich. It is the doctrine of divine exchange.
He went through a gruelling physical experience. He was beaten almost senseless just for the fun of it, not because he did anything wrong. And He died. And after he rose up he declared that all powers in heaven and on earth are given to him, and since we are in union with him we are jointly empowered. He was physically beaten and so the bible says by his stripes we were healed, and because that we can come to peace with God and with ourselves the bible says that the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him (Isaiah 53:5, 1Peter 2:24). So that we can come to peace he was chastised.
Because of Jesus we are moved from bondage to freedom. He said to a woman bound by the devil for eighteen years, you are loosed. Jesus was for her a change of name from bound to free. A man was paralysed for eighteen years (Luke 13:10-17), meeting Jesus, or Jesus meeting him changed his story. He rose up and walked.
Jesus described the different areas of help he offers when he said the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, etc. Peter said that he went about doing good and healing those who are oppressed by the devil because God was with him (Acts 10:38). God with him is descriptive of the power of the Holy Spirit with which he operated.
He brought a change by the power of the Holy Spirit. And when he was going he said we shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon us (Acts 1:8). He wanted to bring all of us to his name changing level, make us name changers.
A few days after that happened, Peter and John ministered to a man who have been lame for a long time (Acts 3:1-11), and his name was changed his name/label from lame to healed and jumping. He then entered the temple maybe for the first time in his life. Before then he was a confined to a place, he can move around now, while before he was an object of pity he became an object of joy. He suffered rejection, now he is a point of attraction.
A change of name thereby means a change of position. When we become Christians, our possibility became changed. John wrote that as Christians we have the right to become sons of God (John 1:12). That is the most radical identity change there is. We move from being of the earthly sinful first Adam to be of the heavenly Second Adam (1Corinthians 15:45-48), Jesus, and through him we have access to the greater things, greater life all because of our change of name, which goes along with our change of life.
- Sarah: Life with Abraham 3 (womenfromthebook.com)
- Blessings impartial and extrapolated … (thepauls.wordpress.com)
- The Altars of Abraham (smoodock45.wordpress.com)