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  • Pastor Jim French

The Power Of The Name of God

“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” (Num 6:27 ESV)

What's in a Name?

In our modern culture a name is simply a way to identify someone. Children are most often given a name because the parents like it or because they are naming a child after someone in their family.

In the ancient Hebrew culture this was much different. A name was not only a way to identify someone – it was reflective of their character. For example - Isaac means “he laughs”, most likely reflecting the joy and laughter Abraham and Sarah felt at God fulfilling his promise with the birth of their son.

When a name was chosen in Hebrew culture it was with the intent of assigning an attribute to the child; even to the point of assigning their destiny. The child became the name given them. Their name became a prophesy of their future.

Jacob was born holding his twin brother Esau's heel, and the Bible tells us that this is because he was a "holder of the heel" or "supplanter". "Supplaneter" was a prophesy fulfilled because later he deprived his brother of his rights as the firstborn son – twice (Genesis 27:36).

When Adam gave the animals their names he wasn't simply giving them a label – he was assigning them their nature – their characteristics.

After the Lord God formed from the ground every wild animal [Lit. every animal of the field; i.e., non-domesticated animals, as opposed to domesticated livestock] and every bird that flies, he brought each of them [The Heb. lacks each of them] to the man to see what he would call it. Whatever the man called each living creature became its name. (Gen 2:19 ISV)

God blessed Adam by allowing him to have a part in giving the animals their attributes when he gave them their names.

In the Hebrew culture someone's name was their character – their nature – their destiny. Sometimes the name of a child reflected the feelings of the parent when they were born. Rachael named her 2nd born son “Ben-oni” meaning “child of my pain”.

Just before she died, [Lit. As her soul was departing while she was dying] Rachel called her sons [Lit. called his] name Ben-oni, [The Heb. name Ben-oni means child of my pain] but his father Jacob [The Heb. lacks Jacob] named him Benjamin. [The Heb. name Benjamin means child of my right hand] (Gen 35:18 ISV)

Naomi's children were named “Machlon” meaning “Sick” and “Kilyon” which means “pining” or “wasting away”. (Ruth 1:2) It's no coincidence that each of her children died Ruth (1:5) presumably in their early adulthood since they had no children. (You have to wonder what Naomi was thinking!)

Every time Naomi called to her children she was proclaiming their destiny – speaking “sickness” and “wasting away” over them. Our words are very powerful - we get what we say. Was Naomi aware of the importance of a child's name? Was there a bitterness in her heart with the birth of these children? (Ruth 1:20)

Many times in the Bible we will see that the person's name is what they become. God changed Abram's name (meaning exalted father) to Abraham meaning “Father of Nations”. Every time anyone called to him or said his name it was a prophetic declaration for what he would become. God gave him this name long before Abrham gave birth to Isaac. Every time his name was spoken it reaffirmed God's promise to him and brought it closer to completion – it was a prophetic declaration of what was to be.

Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) means “Salvation” - which was indeed his destiny – the salvation of all who would receive him.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology explains Hebrews naming as follows:

Names are more than labels. In Old Testament times a name expressed identification, but also identity. Significant meaning often attached to a name. Names had an explanatory function (cf. Abigail's explanation about her husband, "He is just like his name — his name is Fool" [1 Sam 25:25]). Name changes were important, since a message attached to the name. Abram (great father) became Abraham (father of a multitude) (Gen 17:5; 32:28). In some sense a name was the expression of an inmost reality.”

In the Book of Numbers God commands Aaron to speak this blessing over the Israelites.

"The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his presence upon you and give you shalom (wholeness and peace in every aspect of your life)! “So shall they put my name [God's] upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:22-27).

(Note God didn't tell Aaron to say “May the Lord bless you”) but told him to place His name and blessing upon the Israelites. This was an impartation of God's blessings, his presence and his very character upon the Israelites. Aaron was bestowing a gift from God. It was not God saying “Maybe I'll bless if I feel like it”. It is a certainty. The blessing has substance.

God granted Aaron (and you and me) the privilege to give a heavenly gift to others. This was the impartation – the release of a heavenly substance – the bless.

Note in verse 27 – God is placing his name – his mark of ownership – his being on the children of Israel. One the one hand he is saying “These people belong to me!” And he is also placing everything his name means upon them - his nature – his character – his presence - all that he is. We too can place blessings on others and they are the recipients of the same benefits. This blessing imparts the reality of God's presence into the lives of whomever we speak.

The Hebrew text in verse 27 has the implication that when we place the name of the

Lord on someone every time the person's name is spoken the blessings of the Lord

are released into his/her life.

The name of God/Jesus is very powerful.

When we pray in Jesus' name we are praying as his proxy and with his power of attorney. It is not just something Christians “do”. There is power and presence behind his name. It has tremendous power. When we say, "In Jesus' name" we are saying that we are praying in and with the authority of Jesus. When we pray in his name our prayer has the same authority, power and effect as if he were praying. Yes – you read that right.

When we invoke the name of God/Jesus we are invoking everything that is God; his mercy; his love; his power; his authority, etc. We are placing his presence in the center of our prayer/declaration and our situation. We are praying as his proxy. It is as if he were praying.

Note that when Jesus was being questioned before the Jewish leaders did not respond to any accusations until the high priest invoked the “living God” by an oath – invoking the name and character of God.

And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you [with an oath] by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” (Matt 26:62-63 - my addition in brackets)

When Caiaphas adjured Christ by the living God, he was drawing on a long line of examples in the Old Testament. Every time the phrase “living God” is used there, the word for God is El, or Elah, or Elohim. This is the Creator God, this is God Almighty—this is the name for God that is used in the first sentence of the Bible. Further, this is the name that Christ used in His cry of dereliction from the cross—“Eloi, Eloi . . .” Douglas Wilson

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Act 2:21)

What the Holy Spirit is saying to us through his Word is that when we call upon the name of God we are trusting in his character, his promises, and his nature and we will be saved.

"And the nations will hope in His name." (Mat 12:21 LITV)

This verse could be translated, “And the nations will have joy-filled expectation (Biblical hope) in his character, nature and promises.”

The name of God reflects everything that he is. When we use his name in prayer for example, we are invoking everything that he is.

In the 10 Commandments (literally the 10 Words) we read:

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (Exo 20:7 ESV)

Most people think this means do not use the Lord's name as a curse. That is true, it is a sin to curse using God's name, but there is a much deeper meaning. The name of the Lord reflects his nature, his character and his promises. It reflects who he is.

…..My Name, is revered among the nations. (Mal 1:14 REB)

In other words: My name is to be honored by all. It is not to be used lightly. To take something in vain means to use it frivolously, uselessly, foolishly or irreverently. We could also translate this verse this way:

“You shall not use the character, nature and promises of the LORD your God lightly or frivolously, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who uses his name lightly or frivolously." (Exo 20:7)

God has given us his name (character, nature, proxy) for prayer, invocation and to bless. The use of his name has great power and authority. We should be sure that we use it respectfully, fully aware of the One we are invoking.

It's popular to use the phrase OMG today, but that certainly is not a reverent use of his name.

When we become a Christian we are "taking God's name" as our own. This commandment tells us that we are not to do so lightly. Becoming a Christian is not something we should do casually. It is a total commitment. We are literally giving God our entire lives as he is giving us his life. We are to hold nothing back.

Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, (Mat 28:19 CEV)

Christ commanded us to make disciples and baptize in the name of the Trinity. The word baptize literally means “to immerse”. When we are baptized we are “immersed” in the character and nature of God. We receive the Holy Spirit and our spirits are joined with him

In that day you will not [need to] ask Me about anything. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name [as My representative], He will give you. (John 16:23 AMP)

Jesus tells us to use his name in prayer. This is more than just a “nice” thing to say at the end of our prayer. It is not "magic". It is more than something Christians “do”. We are invoking the very character of God when we pray in Jesus' name. When we pray in Jesus' name we are basing our prayer on his very nature. We are calling upon his character – on who he is and all he is.

The Powerful Name Of The Lord

The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name." (Luke 10:17 CENT)

The name of Jesus carries his authority. We are given the authority to use his name and cast out demons. His authority is greater than any other.

Now you understand that I have imparted to you all my authority to trample over his kingdom. You will trample upon every demon before you and overcome every power Satan possesses. Absolutely nothing will be able to harm you as you walk in this authority. (Luke 10:19 TPT)

Behold, I have given you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. (Luke 10:19 CENT)

There is deliverance in his name. His name is the highest, the most powerful name in existence. And his name has been given to us and placed upon us! (Numbers 6:27)

His name represents him. When we pray in his name we represent him. When we use his name we present all that he is to both Heaven and Earth. We present his authority to Heaven and Earth.

Use his name – pray his name – the power of attorney and proxy he has given us!

[Jesus is] far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Eph 1:21)

Jesus' name, his nature and his character, his essence is high above every other name.

We have been given the privilege (and responsibility) to use his name.

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)

And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. (Acts 3:16)

Notice that Peter did not ask God to heal the man, rather her speaks with the authority of Jesus' name and the man is healed! There is healing in the name of God.

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

There is salvation in his name (and his name alone)!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

(Isaiah 9:6 ISV)

God has given us a “trinity” of “tools/gifts” to advance the Kingdom of God and live the Christian life – the name, the word and the blood. Each of these “tools” has great power and authority and carries all he is. I encourage you to study all that you can about the blood, the word and the name. Understanding these gifts will help you to live an amazing victorious Christian life.

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