ODJ: name game

November 15, 2015 

READ: Luke 1:57-66 

I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).

As a Chinese man, when I told my father that I was giving my children Greek names, he reminded me to make sure they would be meaningful and nice-sounding. Most important, my kids were to have the same family name. Ah, so many first names to choose from!

New parents Zechariah and Elizabeth didn’t have the joy (or challenge) of finding a suitable name for their son, for God told them to name him John (Luke 1:13,57-60). The parents were both descendants of the priestly line of Aaron (vv.5-6). When a son was named after his father, it meant that he would walk in the steps of his father, carry on his father’s name and assume Dad’s priestly vocation as well. So for Zechariah and Elizabeth to name the baby John was to deny the family lineage—putting aside their ministry as priests.

John wasn’t called to be a priest, but a prophet—“the prophet of the Most High . . . [to] prepare the way for the Lord” (v.76). So his name was symbolic of that new calling (vv.60,63).

John’s early call to ministry, however, wasn’t something new or unique. The prophet Jeremiah was also called before he was even conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5). David affirmed that God had his life all mapped out: “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Psalm 139:16). In the New Testament, Paul said he was called to be the apostle to the Gentiles before his birth (Galatians 1:15-16).

Think about it: the great God over all is the Source of your life. But He is the Course of your life as well. He is the Author, Scriptwriter and Director of your story! And He knows you intimately, calling you by name to do His will.

—K.T. Sim

365-day-plan: Acts 26:1-32

Read Psalm 139:13-15 to see what else David said about God’s involvement in his life. 
What does it mean for you that God is both the Author and the Director of your life? What do God’s names reveal about Him?