Living With Your New Name

February 6, 2012

Gen. 32:27-8 “The man asked Jacob, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered. Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with man and have overcome.'”

Names mean a lot.  They are how people call you, talk about you, think about you.  Names meant even more back in ancient times.  Often, names revealed things about your personality, your career path, or your strengths and weaknesses.  In Genesis, Jacob’s name in Hebrew literally meant “he deceives”.  And for most of his life, this is what Jacob did.  He deceived and manipulated almost everyone around him.  And though he knew about the God of his father, he really did not know the God of his father.  But then God appeared to him one night.  This encounter left Jacob with a limp and a new name.  Instead of being known as one who deceives, Israel would be known as one who struggled with God and overcame.

However, I find it interesting that the very next chapter refers to this man as Jacob again.  Why is this?  I believe he is still called Jacob because he hadn’t yet had time to prove the new person he had become.  It wasn’t until he made amends with his brother, met with God for a second time, and had to mourn the loss of his beloved wife Rachael that Jacob would be known as Israel.  Jacob the deceiver had to known what it really meant to struggle before he could be known as Israel, the one who struggled with God.

For those of us in Christ, we have been given a new name.  We now are known as children of God, who are called to walk and talk like our Savior, Jesus.  Though we once were enemies before the Creator of the universe, we now are free to live for him, by the blood of His Son.  This is our reality NOW.  We did nothing to earn it, and could never do anything bad enough to revoke it.  The question now is whether or not we will live with our new name.  Just as Israel had to live out his name, we too bear a responsibility to love as God loves, serve as He serves, and even share in the sufferings.  Here’s the awesome part:

We don’t have to earn it.

This new name was given to us by the obedience of Jesus, not by our obedience.  So now, all we have to do is live it out! All we have to do is be who we were saved to be.  Where Jacob struggled for his name, our name was purchased for us by Christ.  We belong to Him, and nothing can change that.  So live with your new name, because you have been saved by the name above every other name.

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