Tonight we will begin to look at God's work in changing people and the relationship with names they are given. God is doing a special work today. He is making His name great by building a body of people who carry His name...and His Holy Spirit. He does this by the word of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have had this promise from the beginning, but we will begin to see how powerful this work is in the life of a believer. This is about God's name and men's names that point to God's name. A changed name is a gift of the promise of God to make men new and to change them inside and out. Tomorrow we will go a bit deeper into the New Testament names and the link to Revelation 2:17. There is much hope in Jesus Immanuel. Please continue to pray for God's name to be lifted up in North Minneapolis. We are also praying for His people to join us here in this work.

Covenant Names: Changed Names, Changed People

One of the patterns of God’s work on behalf of His chosen people is to change them to fulfill the covenant He enters with them. He gives them a new name and, like God’s self-revelation of Character in His name, makes the covenant person or people grow into the characteristics He has pronounced upon them in the naming work He has done. What I mean is God names men with meaning He is going to bring about in them in course of the covenant. Here are a few people that were given new names.

Eve, not Woman: In Genesis 2:23 God brings the woman He had made to Adam. Adam names her woman. This is Adam’s response to seeing her for the first time: This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. Eve reveals the character of Adam and her name reflects it. But after sinning by disobeying God’s command to not eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God promises to bring life from her including her savior. Adam gives Woman a new name: Eve. He called her this because she was the mother of all living. In this case Adam, not God, re-named his wife to reflect the promise of God. He knew what God said would come to pass.

Abraham, not Abram: Abram, through no special merit of his own for we know he was not a worshipper of God, but of the gods of the Chaldees from where he came and a liar, was chosen by God to be the father of nations and a blessing or curse to those who blessed or cursed him. God brought Abram forth from the land of Babel to make a great name for God! After returning from Egypt, God comes to make a second covenant regarding the land we now call Israel, or the Promised Land, and states He will give it to Abram. Abram’s wife Sarai is to bear a child, but she is old and it makes no sense that she would be able to do this. She is far past the age of being physically able to bear children. She tells Abram to take her slave and have a child. Abram agrees and has a son named Ishmael. This is evidence that Abram is not trusting God’s means, but instead His own wisdom and power. God appears again in Genesis 17 and renames Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah. Abram comes from the word father, but Abraham means father of many nations. In Genesis 17:9 god states that Abraham will keep God’s covenant as will his descendants after Him. Sure enough, God confirms this after testing him with the sacrifice of his son.[1] Sarai means “my princess”, but Sarah simply means “princess”.[2] She was to be a mother of nations.[3] This is found in the person who Christ who has brought all nations into a single kingdom from the line of Abraham.

Isaac: God decides the name of Isaac from before he was. This is somewhat unique for it is an everlasting covenant. Abraham plead for God to bless Ishmael, but God responds this way: “Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year." 22When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.” Eternal covenants are unique[MS1] . In the case of Isaac, he is the God-determined particular source God will work through to bring Christ into the world. God promised to bring a promised nation through Abraham, but Abraham had two children, Ishmael through Hagar and Isaac who would come from Sarah. This particular eternal work, which is very specific, reveals the truth of God’s purposes in election for the major work He is doing in each human life.[4]

Israel, not Jacob

Though Israel’s coming had been foretold, there came a moment in Jacob’s life where he wrestled with a man. As the story goes, Jacob wrestled with God through the night to the breaking of day. Regardless of the differences of opinion on who the man was, God’s word records that Jacob named the place Peniel, which means “face of God” because “I have seen God face-to-face, and my life is preserved.”[5] He did not leave there as He was, but was changed. The man touched Jacob’s hip socket and it was out of socket.[6] After Jacob’s hip was out of place, day was breaking and the man asked to be let go, but Jacob told him he would not let him go unless the man blessed him. And he did! He changed Jacob’s name from its current meaning of “heel-catcher” or “deceiver” to Israel which means “God’s fighter” or “he who struggles with God”.[7] This name would be given to the people of God’s promised nation, Israel, and would carry with it the observance of not eating the meat of the hip socket and remembering God’s work of change to Jacob’s hip.[8]

Hosea’s Children: Jezreel, Lo-Ruhamah, and Lo-Ammi

The prophet Hosea had a call from God to manifest God’s work in His people by revealing the two natures they would seem to run a pattern of living in. As discussed earlier, God explains Israel’s harlotry towards Him as they worship idols and turn from His graciousness to them. God told Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry. For the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the LORD.”[9] Hosea married a woman named Gomer who bore three children. These children may or may not have been Hosea’s. the first was named Jezreel. Jezreel means “God will scatter” and was a prophecy regarding God’s promise to avenge the murder of the household of Ahab by a man named Jehu.[10]

The second child Gomer had was named Lo-Ruhamah which means “not pitied” and was a prophecy of God’s coming destruction of Israel where He would not be merciful nor extend a way of salvation.[11] The third child, a son, was named Lo-Ammi which means “Not my people” and reflected God’s rejection of Israel. Though God prophesied of the vengeance, destruction, and rejection that was to come in the initial naming of the children, He immediately follows it with a promise of restoration.[12] In the naming of the children, God was really calling out Israel in light of breaking the covenant.

[1] GENESIS 22, especially verses 15-18.

[2] Commentary Note on GENESIS 17:15 from The MacArthur Study Bible Twentieth Anniversary Edition page 38.

[3] GENESIS 17:16

[4] I have a planned upcoming work that will address this in more detail. Join the email newsletter at for updates upon completion.

[5] GENESIS 32:32

[6] GENESIS 32:25

[7] Footnote on GENESIS 32:28 from The MacArthur Study Bible Twentieth Anniversary Edition on page 64.

[8] GENESIS 32:32

[9] HOSEA 1:2b

[10] HOSEA 1:4 with footnote information from The MacArthur Study Bible Twentieth Anniversary Edition on page 1253.

[11] HOSEA 1:6-7 with footnote commentary from Ibid.

[12] HOSEA 1:10-2:1

 [MS1]Think through how to address “eternal covenants” in scope of this book.

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