For the most part, what is the first thing we want to hear when we meet someone for the first time? Even in the most casual of settings, a person’s name comes up quite quickly. Names are important. However, if this is true today, it was even more so in ancient biblical times. Names were not just a label or means of identification, but they were relavatory; that is, revealing something otherwise unknown or a protrayal of expectation. This is true especially in the bible. Much is undersood about a person or a place in view of the name given. There are instances in scripture where a place is named or a person’s name is changed to denote a very special event of life-transformation. Such is the case with Abram becoming Abraham or Jacob becoming Israel; and in the New Testament when Simon bar Jonah’s name is changed to Cephas (Peter)
For our purposes the word “name” does not limit itself to the etymology of the word God. He is given different names to describe a particular meaning of his divine intervention or manifestation. Such is the case of the name Yahweh-Shalom: the Lord is Peace. By meditating on the names of God in this way as given in Holy Scripture,we can deepen not just our understanding of God and his ways; but we can advance in our intimate relationship by discovering his attributes, character and nature. This is so, starting with the name God himself gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai, to the telling description of God’s action and dealings with his people: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want….” This evokes many sentiments of solace and trust.
In the next blog entries we will linger on God’s many descriptive names, from God our Creator to God our everlasting Father.