For a little over a year God has been teaching me about the significance of people’s names. All throughout scripture names are recorded in stories and genealogies. If you are anything like me, you probably skim over these names because they are either unpronounceable, or because the person didn’t seem that important. I have learned however that every name in the Bible is not just a written record acknowledging that someone was related to somebody who did something notable. It’s a written record that God remembers that person by name. They too walked the earth, and like us, they matter to God.
After that realization I began researching Bible figure’s names as well as my very own, and learned very quickly that a persons name almost always reflects a person’s actions, personality, or calling in life.
Abram for instance meant “High father” and later became Abraham, “Father of nations”. It was through Abraham that God would multiply his offspring and inhabit the earth, thus being a father of nations. – God is smart.
God too has a name – “YHWH” (Yahweh), which translates to “Lord” and means,
“His name is Yahweh” (Is 42:8)
Another is the name “Jehovah,” which means “the unchanging, eternal, self-existent God,” also “The I am that I am”. In Biblical times, this name was so sacred that it could only be spoken by the high priest in the holy of holies on the day of atonement. It is not typically written in the scriptures because it is too sacred to even write, so it is commonly replaced with “Adonai”.
Often we approach God by calling Him “God” (Elohim), or “Lord” (Adonai), which are actually just titles like calling someone “Sir”. Routinely, we address God by these names out of habit, but what would happen if we carefully chose which name to address Him by (ie. Father, Lord, Papa, Daddy, Daddio, Jehovah, Yahweh, etc.)? There are levels of intimacy with our outrageously relational God, and we are invited to draw nearer to Him by speaking to Him in a natural and sincere way. Likewise, the position of your heart toward God often dictates how comfortable you feel in speaking to Him with authenticity.
The pinnacle of what I have learned from this “name” journey, is that when you call God “Dad,” (or similar) instead of “Father” or “Lord,” then He will reveal Himself to you as a loving dad. There is power in your words.
When you address Him with affection He will respond with affection
Last month I was visiting the beloved land of Israel with a group of friends. During those 40 days I diligently sought the face of Jesus and wanted nothing more than to know Him deeper while staying in His home country. One afternoon I was sitting on our balcony and I remember saying,
“Jesus, Jesus…. Jesus… I just want to know you more. Jesus, I just want to be closer to you. Jesus, I want to know more about you.”
And then He said something I will never forget,
“Shabba, my name is Yeshua. My Father has named me Yeshua, and while I walked this land, my mother called me Yeshua; my friends called me Yeshua. Shabba, my name is Yeshua.“
I was shocked by those words. He said it in such a way that suggested in a very loving tone, “If you want to know me more, then know what my actual name is.” The person of Jesus, who I’ve been absolutely in love with for 9 years just told me that after all of that time I haven’t even been calling Him by His true name.
It wasn’t a correction. It was an invitation to come closer to Him.
I personally don’t think that Jesus cares that people call him Jesus, Jesu, Isa, etc. He’s just happy that we love Him. However, my consistent prayer and hearts deepest desire is to be close to Jesus, so it breaks my heart to know that I’ve been calling Him by anything other than what His closest friends would call Him.
Think about it this way, say you have a friend named Elias, which is translated to Elijah in english. If you know his name is Elias, why would you call him Elijah? It’s not his name. It means the same thing, but it’s not his name.
The same goes for the name of Jesus…
His name is Yeshua