*I generally try to get my whole point across at once so this can be more devotional in nature than study. Today I just couldn’t do that. Sometimes my thoughts get bigger than my fingers. Thank you for your forbearance!*
During the offertory on Sunday our choir sang an amazing song about the power of the name of Jesus. Apologies to the choir but I got waylaid by the concept of a name and forgot the name of the song. Just know that it wasn’t lost on me.
I did a mini word study on the word “name” and I will try very hard not to bore you with all I learned. “Name” can serve as a verb (What will you name the baby?) or a noun (His name is Bob). Wow. That will blow your mind, huh? Or not.
But the song said the name had power. “Bob” doesn’t strike me as terribly powerful, unless you are referring to the wrestling coach at my old high school. Big brute! Very powerful but still, it’s not his name that has the power but the body it is assigned to. And now we are getting somewhere.
The word “name” has some very interesting synonyms too. From Thesaurus.com:
“agname, agnomen, alias, appellation, autograph, autonym, brand, cognomen, compellation, denomination, designation, epithet, eponym, flag*, handle*, head, heading, label, matronymic, moniker, monogram, namesake, nickname, nom de guerre, nom de plume, nomen, patronymic, pen name, pet name, place-name, prenomen, proper name, pseudonym, rubric, sign, signature, sobriquet, stage name, style, surname, tag, term, trade name”
As I read the list I claimed cheats on several of these words. “Autograph” is actually a signature or the act of signing. “Alias,” “pseudonym,” “pen name” and “nom de plume” are all fake names used when one does not want to be accurately identified. And “monogram” is actually just initials used to represent a person’s full name. My favorite is “moniker.” And then there’s “handle” as if what a person or thing is called helps you get a grip on who or what they are and understand that better.
Exodus 3 depicts Moses’ commissioning as the deliverer of the people of Israel from bondage in Egypt. I rolled back through Genesis to make sure I wasn’t missing something but this is the first place I can find anyone asking God who He is.
Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “IAM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ “
Gosh God. Wouldn’t it be easier if I could get “Bob?” I mean from today’s standpoint God is pulling a Popeye here! “I yam what I yam.” It’s a very slippery handle. But it was enough. I wondered why Moses would need an identifier. Why wouldn’t it be enough to say, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you?” But Moses clearly didn’t connect himself to them (YOUR fathers). He was raised as an Egyptian, fled early, and was now coming back as God’s mouthpiece. Perhaps he needed a letter of recommendation.
So God gave him the “code name” that the Israelites knew and trusted. It wasn’t just any name to them. “I AM” was a name that was synonymous with power. My Biblical word study (good old Hebrew and Greek classes meet the Strong’s Concordance) attached the word “name” to authority or power.
When Top Kid goes to the other two Bigs and says,”Mom wants us to clean the playroom” it unfortunately doesn’t carry much authority. I’m not sure why but it just doesn’t. “Dad wants us to clean the playroom” carries much more power. Perhaps it’s because Dad doesn’t ask for as much cleaning as Mom does so it must be way more important when it is coming from him. Or maybe Dad’s punishments are more powerful than Mom’s.
Our relationship with the name colors our understanding as well. The name “Jesus” to me is comforting and peaceful and love in person. To a demon on the other hand…
When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarene, two men who were demon possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way. And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them. The demons began to entreat Him, saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And He said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters.
To a demon, the power and authority in the name of Jesus is a death sentence. The best part is that in my red-letter Bible, only one word is actually red. “Go.” The demons didn’t ask who He was – they knew. With one word Jesus was able to command them. That is power!
Now I am left with one question. What is the name of the power in my life? What has authority? It’s certainly not someone named Bob. I want the authority to be I AM. Daily I surrender. Unfortunately some days Self-Doubt gains the power. Am I good enough for all the assignments God has given me – mother, friend, wife? Many times Pride holds the wheel. Look at how well-behaved they are today! I did that! Perhaps for some the authority lies in Financial Security, Popularity, Job Title, Addiction, Video Games, or any other stumbling block that takes control of our heart and desires.
The good news is that God, Jesus, I AM still holds all authority if we will allow Him to tell all the other “stuff” to “Go!”