Called by a New Name
By: Pastor Pete Grassow
Isa 62:1 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake
I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and
her salvation as a burning torch.
Isa 62:2 The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your
glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD
Isa 62:3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a
royal diadem in the hand of your God.
Isa 62:4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no
more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall
Isa 62:5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons
marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your
God rejoice over you.
Go back to my earlier question: Do you like your name? Sometime we have official names - and then the names people call us: I come from South Africa - and we had a rugby player called Jacob Peter Naude. But no-one called him that: 6'5" - everyone
called him "Tiny" . Sometimes the names we are called are not kind: have you ever been called names that you do not like?
It mostly happens when we are children - some of the most hurtful and destructive teasing happens through name calling. But sometime these carry over into adulthood - people might not say them - but they have stuck in our memory and affect the way we
think about ourselves: Called stupid as a child - and you grow up thinking that you are
stupid. When a child is told that they are a problem - they will grow up with
this in their self-image and become a troublesome adult.
Today's Bible reading tells of a time when the Children of Israel were called by hurtful names: from the earlies days the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
believed that they had a special relationship with God ... But there came a moment in their history where it seemed that the blessing of God was no longer with them: The Assyrian Empire colonised the Israelites, and then King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon burned Jerusalem to the ground. And God's people were mocked by their neighbours:
They used two words:
The word of God came to the Prophet Isaiah: and he has these words for the children of Israel:
Isa. 62:4 You shall no more be termed forsaken, and your land shall no longer be termed desolate, but you shall be called My Delight is in Her, and your land Married.
The old words are cancelled out by new words: Instead of being an abandoned nation you will become known as "My delight" – Hephzibah - God's delight.
Instead of being called the broken hearted you will be known as Married to God. Beulah.. God's Beloved.
What can we take from this .....
God gives us new names:
Isaiah says that God does not see us through the names that other people call us. God does not listen to the hurtful words people use to describe us God calls us by new names. God's Delight/ God's Beloved. Do not allow the names of your past to continue to shape your present. Do not let the names others have called you crush your sense of worth.
Believe this one thing: God loves you! Of course there are moments when life is difficult - and in such moments we can wonder if God still loves us- God never promised that we would not have storms in our life – But God does promise to be with us in the storms ... So claim your status as a child of God - and ask God for the strength to handle everything that life throws your way.
I would fail us if I did not add the challenge that comes with this Good News:
In the same way that God looks on us with love - and chooses not to use the old negative names for us - So let us refuse to participate in hateful names for other people. There are many words that hurt - and we know what they are!
Every society uses names to separate •us" from "them". And once we are separated - we will surely perish in civil war. I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King Jr,:
We must learn to live together as brothers - or perish together as fools.
It is only when we can embrace the people around us as brothers and sisters that we will discover the secret of a peaceful world.
Think about them - and say to yourself: my new Year's Resolution is to be like Isaiah: I will only use kind names for other people. ...even if I think that they do not deserve it - let me be the one who speaks God's kindness over them. As we speak kind names - we release positive power into their lives.
Let me close with a story from the life of Jesus: he met a young man who was called Simon - this name can mean "God has heard" ... but most often comes from the Greek - and is one of those names that put people down: Flat nose" ..... so here is a young man who is mocked by his friends as flat nose".
And Jesus looks at him and says - "I am going to give you a new Greek name: "Petros" - which means foundation stone - I see in you the possibility
to become a foundation stone for the work I am beginning.
We know him as Saint Peter: And once Jesus gave him a new name, Peter grew into this role - and is today remembered as one of the founders of our Christian Church. Speak kindness over someone - and you plant seeds that can help that person become kind Speak loving words over someone - and you plant the seeds of love that can transform that person's life.