If I was to ask you, what are the names of the three Hebrew boys who defied king Nebuchadnezzar, and refused to bow to His image, even if it meant that their life could end, chances are that most of us will respond, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego”. Even our beloved 4 year old son, Reuben, has this Veggietales DVD entitled “Rack, Shack and Benny” which is a rendition of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abenego. Unfortunately, most of us are familiarly acquainted with this fantastic 3 by their Babylonian names but their real Hebrew names were Hannaniah, Mishael and Azariah. Why is this important?
With one’s name is closely tied that individual’s identity. This is why we have rechristening which often includes a name that signifies that we belong to Christ. The Babylonians had changed the names of these faithful worshippers and servants of the One true God (Yahweh), to names that had ties to the gods of Babylonia (Shadrach purportedly means the command of aku, a Babylonian moon god; Meshach supposedly means the servant of a Chaldean god and Abednego means the servant of Nabu/Nego, another Babylonian god).
But from the 3 Hebrew boys, we learn that while the world may rename us or know us by names that it gives us, our true identity must be as one bearing the name of Jesus Christ, the one TRUE God. And when we recognize that, we can be confident that no weapon formed against us shall prosper. Hannaniah (Shadrach) means ‘Yahweh is gracious’, Mischael means “Who is like Yahweh?” and Azariah means “Yahweh has helped”. Shadrach must have known, that God was true to His Name and that God was gracious. Meshach must have known that there was no one like Yahweh and interestingly Abednego must have recognized that God has helped. Note, Azariah does not mean God will help, but God has helped.
What do people know you as? And when they call us by our name, does it reflect on the One who has the Name above all names?