Truth, Understanding, Insight

Names Divinely Appointed

12th June 2004, hej,seh,mgh


1) The Covenant with the Fathers of Israel

It would appear that at significant times there was Divine intervention in the naming of children,who were to become signs to the people at critical times in Israel's history or as warnings to the nation of its destiny.

The book of Genesis contains a number of examples of Divinely appointed names. The Angel (or Messenger) of God told Hagar that she was to call her son Ishmael, which meant `El (God) shall hear.' Abram's name was changed to Abraham (Genesis 17:5), which embodies the Divine plan for creation. He was told “For a father of many nations have I made thee.” He was also told that his wife's name would be changed to Sarah, which indicates `Princess' (Gen 17:15). Their son was to be called Isaac (Gen 17: 19), which means `he shall laugh' and we are told that with Isaac “I shall establish my covenant.” Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, was told that his name was to be changed to Israel, which means `Prince of El (God/ Power)' (Gen 32: 28), because “as a prince you have power with God.”

Through this family came the Creator's promise of life and redemption to all mankind, to Jew and ultimately Gentile. Their names embodied the Creator's purpose and covenant to bring blessing upon the faithful.

Prophets' Children as Warning Signs to Israelites

At critical times in the nation of Israel's past, certain prophets were given Divine directives in the naming of their children. Isaiah recorded the following.

“I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts who dwells in Mt Zion.” (Isaiah 8: 18)
When his son was born we read that, “Then said the LORD to me, call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.” (Isaiah 8: 3). The name, which meant, that `in speed to the spoil he hastens the prey', was a prophecy of the Assyrian invasion of Israel. It was to stand as a warning to the Israelites who should have been aware of the significance of Isaiah's son's name.

On one occasion Isaiah had also been told to “Go forth to meet Ahaz, thou and thy son Shearjashub.” Shearjashub's name, had the meaning `the remnant shall return', and should have been a clear warning to Ahaz of an impending invasion of the nation, the scattering and captivity of the people of Judah and their eventual return to their land. Shearjashub's name was profoundly prophetic and most certainly represented the Divine determination of Israel's destiny. Isaiah (salvation from Yah) with his son stood before King Ahaz. Isaiah advised Ahaz to ask for a sign from Yahweh. Ahaz refused to ask a sign of the Lord, but in fact, Isaiah and his son standing before Ahaz were a sign to Ahaz of the nation's destiny, and as a Divine prophecy that salvation was from Yahweh.

Ahaz would have constantly seen Isaiah, a well known prophet in Israel and his two sons, named `a remnant shall return' and `speed the spoil and haste the prey.' Ahaz and Israel saw the signs and the nation's destiny in Isaiah and his two sons, but the people were comfortable and complacent in what they posessed and their religion, and they resolutely refused to recognize and see the disaster that was to come upon the nation because of this complacency.

At a time when the nation had forsaken the worship of their God for other gods, the prophet Hosea was instructed to call his son Jezreel (it will be sown of El/power), his daughter Loruhamah (not having obtained mercy) and his second son Loammi (not my people). The names of these children stood as a sign to the nation and their kings that the bow of Israel would be broken in the `Valley of Jezreel', that God would `no more have mercy on the house of Israel' and `you are not my people.' However, the closing verses of Hosea chapter 1 outline the promise of the revival of Israel, together with faithful Gentiles, at a future time when `great shall be the day of Jezreel.'

It can be seen through these Divinely appointed names that although that generation was unfaithful and would be scattered and destroyed, there would come a time in the future when a remnant of the Jews would be regathered into their homeland and together with faithful Gentiles be blessed, fulfilling the promises made to Abraham.

The names of the children of the two prophets, Isaiah and Hosea, reinforce the message that these two prophets brought to the people. They consistently warned the nation of Israel that the people would be scattered and at a later time regathered out of the nations into their traditional homeland. Consider `They shall be wanderers among the nations' (Hosea 9: 17) `till he come and reign righteousness upon you', (Hosea 10: 12)

In a few words from Isaiah we have a summary of the history of the Jews and their future destiny.

`The ships of Tarshish (shall) ... bring thy sons from afar ... and the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls ... for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually ... that men may bring to you the forces of the Gentiles.' (Isaiah 60: 9-11)

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