A New Name
Names mean something. Originally, they would tell someone about where you were from, or what you did for an occupation, or even what you believed. Even if no special meaning is attached to a name, it has a very important function to distinguish people from one another.
Names were used to tell the story. Isaiah and his sons were used by God as visual aids to proclaim the fate of Israel (8:18). Their very names contained a message. His first son, “Shear-jashub” (7:3) predicted that Israel would be devastated, but by the mercy of God there would be a remnant, a few survivors. God would give a sign as to the truthfulness of what Isaiah was predicting. The sign would ultimately find its fulfillment in Jesus, who would be named, “Immanuel,” God with us (7:14).
Isaiah’s second son would be named literally, “swift is the booty, speedy is the prey” to tell of Assyria’s swift coming to hunt down God’s people (8:3). But Isaiah also looked to a brighter, future day. One would be born whose name would be translated, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (8:3). All these predictions came true. Israel was taken captive by the Assyrians. And Jesus came into the world as Immanuel.
Isaiah also spoke of Zion’s glory and the new name that God would give His people (62:1-2). Zion was a poetic way to speak of Jerusalem. It also was used to refer to the kingdom of God, the church. There are many descriptions for God’s people in the NT. However, there is a special name that deserves our attention, “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). Peter later said of the name Christian that we were to “glorify God in this name” (1 Pet. 4:16). What greater name could we use to distinguish ourselves from others than the name Christian?
It seems strange that there are so many names used today, that were never given by God. It’s not unusual to hear someone refer to themselves as a “Baptist” or “Catholic” or “Presbyterian” or scores of other names that were never given by God. May we always be proud and content to be known by no other name than “Christian.”