Worshiping Names

Tuesday, Mar. 31

I’ve often wondered why so many hymns seem to worship the Lord’s name rather than the Lord Himself.
“Blessed by the name of the Lord” for example. Meditating on this, it came to me that names often reflect the nature or character of the person. At least some American Indian tribes waited until a child showed some kind of distinct personality or trait before naming him. One tribe named the child for whatever was first observed after the birth. Maybe “Night Hawk” or “Swift Eagle.” It might be buffalo dung. Too bad, kid! This system was part of their religious system. Old Testament names often do the same. Moses means “drawn out,” obviously in reference to being drawn out of the water. God re-named Abram and Sarai to reflect the new status they had with God. God instructed Hosea to marry a harlot and then gave their children names that predicted how He was going to punish Israel. Saul, which is a Jewish name, was changed to Paul (Acts 13:9). From that time on Luke refers to the apostle as Paul, no doubt to reflect the ministry that God had given him to reach the Gentile world. He would be better received by Gentiles with a Greek name rather than a Jewish name. The point is that names are used for more than identifying a person; they are teaching tools. Jesus means “Jehovah is salvation.” Emmanuel means “God is with us.” Then there is the word “Christ” which is the Greek word for Messiah. Originally a title, it gradually became more like a name. The word really means “the anointed one.” We also refer to Jesus as Lord, which of course means “master” or “ruler.” All these names and titles describe the magnificent character and achievements of Jesus. Using these names and titles gives Him the honor and glory that is due Him. We are not worshiping the names, but the person described by the names. The song writers are OK. The main issue is whether or not we are really exalting Christ when we sing these songs, not just mouthing the words.

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