When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” Genesis 17:1-8 ESV
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.
The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. Isaiah 62:1-3 ESV
Jenny was visiting her friend Alisa. Alisa’s cat had had kittens recently, and the girls loved playing with them. Jenny especially loved one fluffy kitten with tiger stripes and bright green eyes. The kittens were now old enough to find new homes, and Alisa’s dad said Jenny could have one if her parents said it was okay. Jenny was very excited, and she took the tiger-striped kitten home with her right away so she could ask her mom. When her mom saw the kitten she said, “What will you name him?” Jenny knew that meant she could keep him! She named the kitten Victor. She knew Victor was hers to love and feed and take care of. Giving him his name showed that he belonged to her.
God gave Abram a new name, Abraham. Abram means “exalted father,” but Abraham means “father of a multitude.” Abraham’s new name would be a reminder of all God’s promises to him. More importantly, his new name was a reminder to Abraham that God had claimed him to be his own. God promised to be with Abraham and help him and bless him.
God gives us new names, too. He gives them to us when we become his children by faith. This usually happens when we are baptized. When someone is baptized, his or her name is usually announced very clearly. Whatever our other names might be, our new name is “Christian.” We are named after Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to make us God’s children. God claims us as his own, and promises to forgive our sins, love us, and help us always.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us a new name and for naming us after your Son, Jesus. In His Name, Amen.