“Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that when your words come to pass, we may honor you?” But the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is “wonderful?”” – Judges 13:18 (NASB)
Our verse comes from the story of Samson in the Book of Judges. The Lord God visits in person the mother of Samson ad announces Samson’s birth and calling. His father Manoah asks for an in person announcement rather than believing the hearsay his wife tells him regarding the news of Samson’s birth. In this account, the Lord then appears to Manoah with a miraculous demonstration. But that is not enough because Manoah asks, What is Your name? This secret name is again indicative that the Angel is the Lord. “Why do you ask My name?” The Angel would not divulge His name just as He didn’t reveal His name to Jacob in Genesis 32:24–30. Considering how often we hear the name of God bandied about with no respect and often with a great disrespect, we can be amazed at Manoah’s response – He wished to honor the name of this messenger who was the Lord God Himself. But he is told by the angel of the Lord that is not possible because “my name…is ‘wonderful.'” The word ‘wonderful’ means ‘incomprehensible,’ see Isaiah 9:6. The true meaning of God’s name is wonderful beyond our ability to understand it.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.” – Proverbs 18:10 (NASB)
Towers from antiquity have always been vital and strategic for protection. From earliest records, towers demonstrated power and wealth. Towers were named by the person who built them or the town for which they were built. Watchtowers built by farmers were platforms from which farmers protected their land and livestock. These towers were also a protected shelter for shepherds to watch their flocks and a fortified position for sentinels to guard a city. The expression, “the name of the LORD” used in this verse is found only here in Proverbs. It contains the very name of God and stands for the manifest perfections of God such as faithfulness, power, mercy, and wisdom, on which the righteous rely for security. The righteous turn to the name of the Lord, that is, to His revealed character. In Exodus 3:15 when God calls Moses from out of the wilderness he says to him “ This is My name forever, My memorial-name to all generations.” In Exodus 15:3 Moses declares “The Lord is a warrior; The Lord is His name.” By putting our trust in His Name we’re as safe as a person hiding from the enemy in a strong tower.
“Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” – Nehemiah 9:5 (ESV)
This verse from the book of Nehemiah is a demonstration of proper worship of God. This chapter is an account of the people’s reaction after hearing the Law of Moses read. They likstened for 3 hours about the sins of their fathers and for 3 more hours confessed that they had been partakers of similar evil deeds. In response to all of this, they worshiped. Some were a surviving remnant of Israel that was left and not carried away to Babylon; some also those who had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon after 70 years of forced exile. Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and took nearly all of the excellent, educated and young to live in Babylon during the three mass exiles. While this is a long confession of sin, it is within the recitation of God’s mighty redemptive acts on Israel’s behalf. Indeed, an expression of worship. We might something about true worship from these words. It begins with acknowledgement of the greatness of God’s name and learn that God’s name is glorious and deserves to be spoken with the greatest of awe and recognition that no other name is greater or higher in all creation.
“Blessed be the name of the Lord From this time forth and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting The name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens.” Psalm 113:2-4 (NASB)
Like many of the Psalms in the Bible, today’s selection is a song of praise to God. Our choice of verses today are found in one of the Hallel Psalms. “Hallel” means praise and these songs were sung on the night of the Passover. We are reminded in these verses that the Lord deserves praise from us at all times and in every place. We begin our praise in the morning when we rise by setting in our heart an attitude and desire to praise God. Through the day we praise the Lord for who He is and for what He does. He is what He is and has always been that way. He will not change and that is a promise we can depend on. We continue our praise to the end of the day⸺the sun’s setting and into the night. We can fall asleep praising God. Perhaps our ancestors praised Him and our descendants will also always praise Him. God wants people everywhere to praise Him. He wants them all to hear about Him and about His goodness. The gospel message has gone out and there are people across this world who are praising Him⸺He is worthy.
“ I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.” – 1 John 2:12 (NASB)
Is it worth it? We try and try and fail and fail so we try again. Yes, there is hope. One gift from God that came to us through Christ – He has given us a clear purpose for living. There is a meaning and purpose to our salvation. The second implication of the twofold truth that Christ came to destroy our sinning and to forgive our sins is this: We make progress in overcoming our sin when we have hope that our failures will be forgiven. If we don’t have hope that God will forgive your failures, when we start fighting sin, we give up. Soon it will be a new year on our calendar. Perhaps many of you are pondering some changes, because you have fallen into sinful patterns and want out. You want some new patterns of eating, entertainment, relating to your spouse, of sleep and exercise, courage in witness. But you are wondering whether it’s any use. Well, here’s your second Christmas present: Christ not only came to destroy the works of the devil — our sinning — he also came to be an advocate for us because of experiences of failure in our fight.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 (NASB “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High;” – Luke 1:31-32a (NASB) “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21 (NASB)
The birth of Jesus was known before God created the earth and humans. During this season, we sing about the message which the angels told to the shepherds near Bethlehem the night Jesus was born. But today’s verses tell us that before that, God predicted through His prophet Isaiah the birth of the “Son of God.” God had sent the angel Gabriel with the message about the birth and name of Jesus to Mary who was chosen to be His mother. Gabriel made a visit later to Joseph who was to be Mary’s husband. Gabriel revealed why God had chosen the name Jesus for the child who was to be born. It was because He would save His people from their sins. The prophecy of Isaiah is repeated in Matthew 1:23. These messages, given to the world before the child was born, are important to us. Jesus was coming in order to be our Savior. We should rejoice today that God sent His Son to save us. It was an important message given before He came. It is just as important today. God promised to provide a way for us to be saved and Jesus is that Way.
“I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” – John 17:26 (ESV)
Our verse and promise come from the Lord’s Prayer. No, not THAT Lord’s Prayer but the prayer our Lord offered up to the Father on His last night. Soon to be arrested, Jesus prayed for all his disciples and included all who ever will be. Can you imagine being able to enjoy what is most pleasurable with unrestrained energy and passion forever? This of course is not our experience now. Too much blocks our satisfaction in this world. Is there anything in this created world that has a personal worth great enough to meet the deepest cravings of our hearts? Do we possess the strength necessary to treasure the best resources to their maximum worth? Do the joys we have here and now come to an end? No, No, and Yes. Nothing lasts. Jesus prayed “that the love with which you, Father, have loved me may be in them.” God’s infinite love for his Son in us! If God’s pleasure in the Son becomes our pleasure in the Son, then the object of our pleasure, Jesus, will be inexhaustible in personal worth. Never become boring, disappointing, or frustrating. No greater treasure can be conceived than the Son of God.
“Remember the word to Your servant, In which You have made me hope. – Psalm 119:49 (NASB) I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O LORD, And comfort myself. – Psalm 119:52 (NASB) O LORD, I remember Your name in the night, And keep Your law. – Psalm 119:55 (NASB)
Can you consider for a moment what life would be like if you were unable to remember? Memory is critical part of our lives and when we know someone in their later life whose memory is failing them, we understand the critical factor of danger. Perhaps they no longer remember what might hurt them such as a hot pot on the stove. Perhaps they no longer remember their way home. Perhaps even they no longer remember their family or even their own selves. It is tragic. The Psalmist affirms three remembrances in his life and we’ve selected the verses that declare what he remembers. He remembers the word God has given him and from that He has acquired hope. He remembers the ordinances he learned in the past and he is comforted by them. And, perhaps most important and valuable, he remembers God’s name in the night which helps him keep God’s law. Those afflicted with the diseases that rob them of their memory often struggle most at the end of the day as the sun sets. Let us rejoice for it is a blessing when we can remember God’s Word all through each day.
“For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself” – 1 Samuel 12:22 (ESV)
What is in a name? Especially the name of God? Foremost it is the guarantee of an unbreakable promise. When God promised ancient Israel those with faith believed them and trusted in their fulfillment. Samuel was the last prophet/judge of God’s chosen people. The people demanded to have a king and God chose Samuel to anoint Saul to be Israel’s first king. Demanding a king, the people rejected God as their true King. As King Saul is crowned, the people are warned to not forget their God and to serve, obey and not rebel against His commandments. God’s promise that He will not forsake His people is renewed. He established the promise on His name, “for His great name’s sake.” God’s promises to us are also given to us in His name. That means the promises are unbreakable and even when we disobey, God keeps His promises. God promised to make Israel a people for Himself based on His name. His promises hold true no matter how far the people stray. We have the same promise. All faith believers are given promises of God for salvation, which include justification, sanctification, glorification. God will be with us forever.
“For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.” – Malachi 1:11 (ESV)
As we read the Bible we find that God’s name is to be taken (used) seriously and with much honor. So it is that one of the Ten Commandments instructs us to not take or use the name of the LORD God in vain. What God does for us and for all humans is all done for His name’s sake. It is for His great name’s sake that God will not forsake His people – that is us who believe. Even when we indulge in our owl pleasures and when we forsake the straight path He lays out for us. Even when we trust in our own understanding instead of God and turn from God’s commands in disobedience, He remains faithful to us because he has promised to and He does this for His name’s sake AND that He might make known to His mighty power. That was why God opened the Red Sea for the Children of Israel to cross on dry land as they exited Egypt (Psalm 106:8-9). It is difficult to break the habits we’ve had for years invoking God’s name uselessly but God’s name is who He is and He is worthy of honor and glory.