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Life Lessons: Abraham (Genesis 17)

I’ve been called all kinds of names in my life. My daddy calls me Sweetie. I had friends in college call me Queen B. My nephew calls me Aunt Bae and my students call me Ms. Anglin. Names can represent a time or season, a position of power or lowliness, a relationship or status. The same was true in Biblical times. Though they put more weight on the meaning of a name than we do in the modern age, a name was still very much tied up with your identity so when God chose to change your name, you knew He meant business.

If you read in Genesis you see that Abram’s name change came with a covenant, a promise and his new name reflected this promise. Remember, Abram wanted a child but had given up hope. The Lord promised him that he would not only have a child but be the father of many nations. However, when that didn’t happen as quickly as he had hoped, he and Sarah took it into their hands to force through an idea that they felt was the only way God’s plan could come to fruition. Of course, this was sinful and caused all kinds of chaos for future generations, including us, but this didn’t stop the plan of God.

Chapter 17 starts with a man named Abram but ended with the hope of Abraham. Abram meant exalted father which was true because of Ishmael but that was not God’s promise. As the Lord reminded Abram of His original promise, He changes his name from just a father to Abraham, a father of many. Think how strange it must have been for Abraham to have a new name at nearly one hundred years old. Think how many times those around him must have said the wrong thing. I bet it was even uncomfortable introducing himself as “the father of many” when he had only one legitimate son but this reality didn’t change who God said Abraham was now and who he would be in the future.

With this He changes Abram to Abraham, representing his change in status. His change to a father of many. When we become children of God, we too get a name change as it were. We lose the names Satan hurls at us… sinner, disappointment, unlovable, failure, mistake. We take up the truth of who we are in Christ… beloved, child, princess, saved, protected.

Stop answering to your old name. I understand that can be a difficult process. Can you imagine being Abram at ninety-nine years old having to learn a new name? Married women will tell you it takes a bit but you get used to it. You don’t hold on to your old name because it’s what you knew. No! Throw it off and take hold of who you are so you can recognize when your Father is calling to you or when it is really Satan. Stand secure in your name change and His faithfulness to honor your place as His child.

Today’s Prayer

Thank you for changing my name and not leaving me in my old identity. Help me to remember who I am now and not to answer when Satan calls me by something else. I praise You as my King and I love You as my Father.


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