Name Change – Abram to Abraham

A name is more than just a means to call someone. In some cultures, the name of a person means their very identity and is indicative of not just what they are called, but who they are in essence.

Abram means Exalted Father and it was the name given to Abram, the husband of Sarai, by his father Terah.
Abraham means “Father of many nations” and it was the name given to Abram, by God himself.

Genesis 17:5-6 records the rechristening of Abram and starts by God telling Abram that he shall no longer be called Abram.
Note also how God tells Abraham that he shall not be the Father or One nation as was what he was promised earlier (Genesis 12:2), but now that he would the Father of many nations. God had told Abram he shall be the father of One nation, when he was still childless, but instead of trusting the Lord, he did not wait for the Lord’s timing. Now again, Abram is still childless, and God is telling him again that he would be the father of not one, but many nations. Abram had to trust in the Lord this time.

Hidden in this account are two spiritual Treasures. First, when we are rechristened by God, i.e., we  become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), bearing the name of Jesus (Revelation 3:17; 1 Peter 4:14) and we should no longer be known by our previous names. In fact, name change requires a nature change … to trust in the Lord. Second, we see God magnanimity in blessing Abram not with just one nation, but with many nations.

Points to ponder:
Have you been rechristened by the Lord? i.e., have you believed in Jesus Christ? If you have, are your living by the name that you were given at birth or by the new name bearing the name of Jesus Christ? Has your name change resulted in your nature change? God is magnanimous is giving us more than than what we ask for or deserve.

Genesis 17:5-6 (KJV)
Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

Lessons from the 3 Hebrew men :: What’s in a Name?

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?