A Better Name
What we call people is important. How we refer to others reflects how we feel about them. When someone is constantly berating someone else, they are demonstrating how they feel about them.
When a parent gives a child a name, frequently it is a name that has significance for the parents. My wife and I named our first born son Andrew Bernard. For me it was a matter of finding a name that my wife would accept to go along with my own father's name. He was named Bernard and had no middle name. My wife and sons did not know my father. He died when I was about 15 years old.
My second son is named for my wife's father. His middle name is the same as Jean's father's middle name, William. After the boys were named Andrew and Peter, Jean's grandmother asked us when we were planning to have the other 12 disciples. We informed her that two was plenty for us.
Names are important. The first man was named Adam. It actually means “to show blood in the face.” I particularly find that interesting when I read how shame played into the first sin.
Abel's name means “a meadow” and he was a keeper of sheep.
Cain's name means “lance” or “spear”. He committed the first murder.
The third son of Adam and Eve was Seth. His name means “substituted” and he was born after Abel was taken so tragically from Adam and Eve.
Abram means “high father” and his name was changed by God to Abraham or “father of nations”.
Jacob's name was “heel catcher” or “supplanter” who was named because he was holding on to his twin brother Esau's heel when he was born. We know his name suited him because he supplanted his brother and stole his birth right. Later God renamed Jacob and called him Israel because he wrestled with God all night. Israel means “prevailed with God”.
There are three passages in Isaiah I want to read this morning. I only have two listed in the bulletin. The first is Isaiah 55:6-11
6 Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 so shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” NASB
Isaiah called the kingdom of Judah back to God. “Seek the Lord while He may be found.” Does that not sound like there is the possibility that there may come a time when we would seek Him and not be able to find Him? God calls us to return to Him and to seek Him. He also gives a promise here. “The Lord will have compassion on him and He will abundantly pardon.”
How grateful I am for the mercy of God who has never turned me away when I have sought Him. He abundantly pardons. Forgiveness is there when I need it. I must simply turn back to God when I have strayed from following Him and walking in obedience to Him.
He will not give up His rightful place as Lord, but He will forgive if we seek Him and listen to him. Moving further down in Isaiah's message, look with me at Isaiah 56:1-8
1 Thus says the Lord, "Preserve justice, and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come and My righteousness to be revealed. 2 "How blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who takes hold of it; who keeps from profaning the sabbath, and keeps his hand from doing any evil." 3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, "The Lord will surely separate me from His people." Neither let the eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree." 4 For thus says the Lord, to the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, 5 to them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off. 6 "Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath, and holds fast My covenant; 7 even those I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples." 8 The Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, "Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered." NASB
Seek the Lord. Call on the Lord. Do Righteousness. Keep the Sabbath. Keep your hand from doing any evil. How many ways can God say, “Follow me!”? Listen, heed, obey me. Live with God as the Lord of your life.
Eunuchs and foreigners are mentioned here. People who were typically thought to be unworthy to be called children of Abraham and to worship in the temple. But to these, who seek God and turn to follow Him, are given promises to remember them, to give them, in God's house and within His walls a memorial, a name that is better than sons and daughters. They are promised an everlasting name which will not be blotted out.
For those who do so there is a new name written down in glory. It is an everlasting name. It is for all who seek the Lord and love Him with all their being.
When Jesus went into the temple and chased the money changers out He quoted from this passage. “My house will be called a house of prayer of all the peoples.”
God had seen enough of the people who were supposed to honoring him but were instead were profaning His name and causing God's name to be brought low.
I believe there are 4 times in the book of revelation when it refers to our names being written in the book of life. Those whose names are so written shall inherit the new heaven and the new earth.
Do you want an everlasting name? Turn to the Father and seek Him while He may be found. Do not turn your back on Him. Live with Him as the Lord of your life. So many times we have ignored Him and have lived as if we are here to please ourselves instead of living to bring honor and glory and respect to the name of our Heavenly Father and to His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Why are we here? What are we living for? What purpose do we fulfill as we live out our lives here on this tiny little ball of mud and rock?
How often do we live for our own pleasures instead of living for God's pleasure?
Today He calls us to turn to Him and repent, to change our ways and to live for Him, to honor Him by honoring the Sabbath and obeying His commands.
His commands are not difficult. Just love Him with all your being and love other people.
We spend our lives wanting to be loved and we miss out on the greatest love there ever could be. We miss out on the love of God because we are so busy insisting that others love us.
He wants to give us a name that is better than son or daughter. He longs to be closer to us than any of our earthly fathers.
Another passage from Isaiah 62:1-5
1 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning. 2 And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name,
which the mouth of the Lord will designate. 3 You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 it will no longer be said to you, "Forsaken," nor to your land will it any longer be said, "Desolate"; but you will be called, "My delight is in her," and your land, "Married"; for the Lord delights in you, and to Him your land will be married. 5 For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you. NASB
“As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you.”
What a promise! How great is the love of God for His people, for those who diligently seek Him and live as if we are loved by the One who knows us best.
He has seen to the very depths of our depravity and He still loves us.
And finally, jumping down to verse 11:
11 Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth, say to the daughter of Zion, "Lo, your salvation comes; behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him." 12 And they will call them, "The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord"; and you will be called, "Sought out, a city not forsaken." NASB
What name will God give to us? He calls us “redeemed”. He calls us “Sought out”. He calls us to seek Him, but He is already seeking us. Like the father of the prodigal son, God is standing at the gate watching for us to come home. He does not want to write us off and condemn us to Hell. He is calling for us to come home. He is calling our name. He wants us to know that we are loved and sought after.
You are not forsaken, as it so often feels like in this life. But you cannot trust your feelings. Listen to the word of God that tells us of God's great love for us.
He wants to give you an everlasting name, a name written in the Book of Life.
He wants you to have a better name than you have given to yourself. Look up into the eyes of the Loving God, the Heavenly Father and know that He knows your name, even if you do not know it yet. Seek Him and He will be found. Trust Him to lead you. Trust Him to love you.