Name stands for identity and function. When God wanted to send Moses to the children of Israel, Moses asked for God’s name. He answered: “Tell them that ‘I am that I am’ has sent you.” I.e. he is present, he is not just an historical God (Exodus 3:14), he is active in the now.
As a servant, what determines your importance is who you serve. Paul, though an apostle, called himself servant of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1). You can only appreciate how great Paul as you have a full understanding of the calibre of person he is serving, and how well he served.
When he met Jesus in a supernatural confrontation as he was on the way to Damascus, he asked him: “who are you Lord.” Answer: “I am Jesus Christ who you are persecuted (Acts 9:5).”
The whole of the bible is the unveiling of who Jesus Christ is, nay, the whole of history. Right now what we are experiencing is the unveiling of who he is in the church which is described as the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23).
But, he is functionally limited in your life, by what you see him as. Those who did not recognise Jesus for who he is lose out from the benefit that he brings (Mark 6:1-6).
When you see him as a miracle worker then you can tap into that essence. When you see him as the saviour, the one who saves us from sin, then you can take advantage of the freedom that he gives for us to walk free from sin. When you know he is the Christ (Messiah), you can “swear” your allegiance to him, being the one who influences you with his kingly anointing, because Christ means the anointed one.
God revealed himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and that has deep meaning (Exodus 3:16). It is reflective of his covenant-keeping nature, his commitment to the three who were specially chosen by him as conduits of his blessing to the earth, reflective of his commitment to the promises he made to them, which was fulfilled in the life of their children hundreds of years later.
The revelation of God to you leads to a discovery of yourself. When you know his name then you get to know your own name, his name carries his function and your name also expresses your function as derived from him, since you are made in his image (Genesis 1:26-28).
That is what it means when the bible says that in God’s light, we see light (Psalm 36:9). When Adam and Eve were in the light of God they were able to function fully in their own potential, but when they turned away from his light, they entered into darkness, losing their way and many of their functions.
Every one of us was limited by the decision made by Adam, but rather than remain so, we have been given new names viz. new functions derived from the Word of God, who Jesus Christ is, in whom the promises of God are yea and Amen (2Corinthians 1:19-20). The word of God to man at creation about our being in dominion is reactivated in our lives. The presence of God comes into us by the Holy Spirit and we are saved. We are shifted into the realm of divine possibilities, no longer confused. We are called, and then glorified (Romans 8:28-30).
The point is that God reveals himself to us via his name, and what he calls us reveals who we are, who he has made us to be.
He called Jeremiah a prophet. He said to him: “I ordained you to be a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:1-5),” though he thought he was not qualified because he was just a youth, opining that that he did not have anything to offer. God naming him changed all that. The word changed him, brought him into his divinely ordained possibilities.
Paul said he was called an Apostle of Jesus Christ (1Corinthians 1:1). Though he was a notorious persecutor of the church, he embraced the name and functioned in it, in his full calling.
When you know who God is and who others are you will know how to effectively relate to them.
The bible says he who gives water to somebody because he is a prophet will not lose your reward, and will receive a prophet’s reward (Matthew 10:41). When a rich woman in Israel identified that Elisha was a man of God, she decided to honour accordingly (2Kings 4:8-11). At the end, he was rewarded with the birth of a child, after many years of being barren.
Jesus changed Peter’s name. He said: you have been catching fishes but now you will be a fisher of men (Mark 1:17). As mentioned before, a name is not just a label (identity) it is also a description of function.
Paul asked Jesus: who are you lord? That he was called the lord showed he recognised his superior power, and his own readiness to comply with his dictates (Acts 9:5).
That he asked that question reflected a desire to move beyond bowing down to gaining spiritual understanding. God does not just want you to fear him, he wants you to know him, to know his name, his word.
Paul prayed: that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, being made conformable to his dead (Philippians 3:8-12). And you can only conform to Jesus to the extent that you are coming to deeper understanding of him. That is why the teaching of truth is important, as he is the truth (John 14:6). He is not just an idea, he is a concrete person.
When you know him, as a Christian, you get to know yourself even more, because you are the body of Christ. That is why you need to open up yourself, open your mind to his truth, to his grace, to his power.
Because knowing him knowing his name is more than an intellectual exercise, it is more than what you cram and write down in a notebook. It is transformation, it is movement to another realm, the opening of the eyes to see beyond the veil of the human capability. It is to enter into the heavenly chamber and be in on the divine secrets, to have revealed to you the counsel of the Lord, and therefore enabled to walk with him.
What God says he will do, also becomes his identity. It is something you can take to the bank. His word is a signature on the divine delivery of the promises he has made. Once he said it, it becomes his name and is guaranteed to be done. That is why in praise, we exalt his holy name (Psalm 34).
- Charles Spurgeon (rulookingforjesus.wordpress.com)