Names, Names, Names
|by C.J. Chase|
Of course, as a typical parent-to-be, I agonized over what name I was going to call that boy when he was born. I combed the family tree and bought name-the-baby books. My husband nixed my favorite name, so I chose another. I still use those baby name books everytime I create characters for a new book. Choosing just the right name is important, whether it's for a child or a pet or a novel's villain.
Bible names usually had meanings associated with them. Uzzi means "the Lord is my strength." Indeed, God sometimes changed a person's name to reflect the person's changed status -- Abram (father) to Abraham (father of many), Jacob (he grasps or he deceives) to Israel (he struggles with God). Jesus renamed Simon (one who hears) as Peter (rock). In Revelation, Jesus promises that anyone who overcomes will receive a new name which no man knows, save him who receives it.
Names, names, names. The Bible is full of names. Entire chapters are devoted to naming names. Genesis 1-3 tell the story of the creation and fall, and then by Chapter 4, after the story of Cain and Abel, we find a list of names. What is the significance of naming Cain's descendants anyway? Wouldn't they have all perished in the Flood that killed everyone except Noah and his immediate family(Genesis 6)?
I have to be honest. I find these lists of names a little boring to read. Okay, I said I was being honest -- I find them a lot boring. I mean, have you ever tried to read each and every name in I Chronicles 1-9? I searched to see if I could find the number of named people in the Bible, but I guess no one else has counted them all either.
What's up with all the names? Why were they included? After all, until the invention of the printing press, every word, every letter, in the Bible had to be handcopied. What is the significance to me, a 21st century American, that God would include so many names in His word?
And then I began to realize that even though I'd never given a thought to Akkub or Haahashtari or Janna or Arphaxad, each one of them is important to God. If you've ever spent time with someone who called you by the wrong name, you probably remember how slighted you felt. I had a boss who consistently called me by the wrong name -- and even wrote it on a check once! Conversely, when someone makes an effort to remember our name, we feel valued.
God warns us in the Ten Commandments not to take His name in vain. To this day many Jews write G-d to show the sacredness of God's name. Of course, the name above all names is Jesus. Indeed, Paul wrote that every knee would bow at the name of Jesus.
The Bible begins and ends with names. At the very beginning, God brought the creatures of His newly created world to Adam to be named. And Revelation tells us that at the end of time, God will check the names in the book of life. Amazing. The same God who cared enough to include Eliab and Zattu and Chenaanah in the Bible knows us by our names also.
And He never gets them wrong.
Have you tried to read the entire Bible, including those chapters that are lists of names? Do you have any interesting stories about your name or how you got an unusual nickname?
After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Redeeming the Rogue is an August, 2011 release. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at cjchasebooks.com