Names are important.
– they help define us
– family names remind us that we have history
– names thoughtfully chosen often carry the hopes and dreams of parents forward in a child’s life
One of the loveliest promises in the Bible concerns a name:
Revelations 2:17 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’
The white stone represented a vote, an acquittal, a ticket, acceptance, and approval.
“New name” is a private name between you and God.
In other words, the shaping and honing of your life is not an unknown to God.
His promise to “never leave or forsake” does not mean that He is following along, but planning ahead. He has ordered your steps, but it is your choice whether or not to follow.
Mankind matters to God and heritage is important to God.
Ephesians 1:4-5 Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
One key point in history takes place in Genesis 25
– Abraham’s son, Isaac, and his wife, Rebekah, are blessed with twins.
– The Bible describes the pregnancy as uncomfortable and difficult.
The Lord explains to Rebekah:
Genesis 25:23 “Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.”
Nothing could have been more accurate.
– Essau is born first, the stronger of the twins.
– Jacob grabs on to Essau’s heel as he is born as if to say, “No! I’ll be first!”
– The name Essau means “hairy;” he was a hunter, brawny.
– Jacob means “supplanter, one who takes the heel;” he is quiet but tenacious, conniving, self-sufficient.
Two events mark Jacob’s life:
– He convinces Essau to sell him his birthright for a bowl of stew.
– He tricks his father into giving him the first-born blessing.
Because of his trickery and ingenuity, Jacob has to run for his life because his brother is out to kill him.
Jacob runs to his Uncle Laben’s house where he spends the next 14 years being schooled by an even better negotiator than himself.
As Jacob escapes Laben and his sons in the dead of night, Jacob has his first encounter with God.
What does self-sufficiency look like?
– always contending for your way: argumentative, proud of always ruling the roost
– believing that God is helped; blessed because you help yourself
– priding yourself on being better than most; seeing others as less than you
That was Jacob – the deceiver, the supplanter, the heel-grabber.
Jacob divided his camp into two companies thinking that if Essau attacks one, at least half of his family and wealth will survive.
He sends everyone on ahead as well as appeasement gifts for Essau; he had bought him off before, maybe he could do it again.
Then Jacob meets God:
Genesis 32:24-28 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”
God touches Jacob and changes his life. He is a broken man. He asks God to bless him.
And God asks him a question – What is your name?
– What defined your life?
– What is your nature?
– Who do people see when they see you coming?
– they see a controller
– a lover, a fighter
– a guy who gets his way no matter what
– a guy who talked a good line about God, but who was ruled by self
vs. 28 Jacob to Israel – Ruled by God
From that day forward, Jacob walked with a limp. Others would see him coming and say that used to be Jacob, but now he’s Israel. He used to be the supplanter, and now he is Ruled by God.
What is your name? When people see you, what defines you?
When God sees you what needs to change?