When God Changes Your Name [Series]--Abraham, Part 1
"Abram to Abraham"
When God changes your name, He establishes a destiny for you and a legacy through you….
No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” (Gen 17:5-8)
One of the most meaningful insights I’ve gleaned about God within the past few years is that nothing He does is random. Most of my understanding of this has come as I’ve read Genesis while studying the Creation, the fall of man, and God’s interaction with man at our beginnings. The exacting detail He demonstrates in the Creation (Gen 1-2), the grace and mercy He extends to Adam and Eve after they sinned (Gen 3), and even His plea and warning to Cain over a faithless offering (Gen 4; Heb 11:2-4) all reveal how intentional He is in His dealings with us.
It makes sense, then, that when He changes our name from unlovely to lovely or sinner to saint, He’s very intentional and strategic regarding His desire for our lives. There is quite a bit of talk about destiny within our culture. In fact, we’re often so preoccupied with destiny, we may not be thriving in the current moment. God had a destiny for Abraham, and it was intricately woven into the moment within which Abram was currently living. His destiny was about how he was living in the “now.” Yes, there was a destiny to which he had been called, but his believing needed to be about the “now.”
Clearly, God has established a destiny for us. Beyond career aspirations, mountains we want to climb, and dragons we want to slay, He has destined us to be in His presence forever. He has destined us for relationship with Him through Christ. In all of our goal setting, we sometimes overlook that our primary goal in life is “God”—to believe Him, be with Him, love Him, worship Him and adore Him. Our second goal should be to love people, which sounds much easier than it is to do. It isn’t because people are hard to love…. Our difficulty typically springs from our own ornery-ness and selfishness. These pursuits align with the greatest commandment Jesus gave us:
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:34-39, ESV)
Destiny and legacy are ultimately about God…. Our response to Him affects everything else in our lives. Abram’s response to God would not only impact him; it would impact the legacy God would establish through him. When we reach Genesis 17, it has been 24 years since God called Abram out of Mesopotamia (Acts 7:1; Gen 12:1). God called him out with a promise, pointed him in a direction and said, “Go….” He had walked through famine, had his wife taken by a foreign king, experienced family strife with the nephew he loved, raised a small army to battle kings in an effort to rescue that same nephew, and questionably went along with Sarah’s plan for obtaining an heir.
He was 99 years old when the Lord appeared to him to establish His covenant with him. His name would be changed from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham—father of a multitude. It was a name that would shout blessing, fruitfulness, and legacy throughout all of eternity. The Lord would intentionally bless not only Abraham but his descendants as well. In him, all the nations of the earth will find themselves blessed (Gen 12:3).
Nehemiah 9:7-8 reminds us that God chose Abram and called him from Ur and put a new name on him. God found Abraham’s heart faithful. He found his heart supportive of and encouraged by God.
as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” (Rom 4:17-22 )
In changing his name, God was establishing a destiny for Abraham. History will always know him as father of a multitude. God said nations would come forth from him (Gen 17:6). Abraham’s destiny, however, wouldn’t only be about physical descendants. It would be about a heritage and legacy of faith established through him as well. According to Galatians 3:29, we, too, are Abraham’s descendants because we belong to Christ. God credited righteousness to Abraham on the basis of his faith. He believed God. He was fully persuaded by God. He was completely won over by God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Abraham’s legacy, then, finds some of its fulfillment in us when we believe. For when we believe, God credits us with righteousness as well. Isn’t that awesome?!
Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at examples of how God establishes a destiny for us and a legacy through us…
- By blessing those people we come alongside or those who come alongside we
- By positioning us as powerful intercessors for others—even when they are unaware of it
- By calling us to tests and seasons intended to develop our character and pour courage into us
- By ensuring our life is about more than the things we do—it is about the essence of who we are
I would love to hear from you during this series.... How is God revealing Himself to you and encouraging you to pursue His heart?
Stay close to Him. Live beautiful.