Names are important. Your identity is wrapped up in your name. I would imagine that before you were born, your parents spent hours trying to think of a name for you. They wanted the perfect name that would roll off people’s lips, and would create a positive image. As we approached the birth of our third son, Josiah, my wife spent hours looking through baby name books. One day, I even caught her reading the obituaries, looking at the names of the deceased. I could see the conversation. “Mom, how did I get my name?”
“Well, son, I was reading the newspaper and saw the name of some dead guy…”
When I was a kid, Johnny Cash had a song titled, “A Boy Named Sue.” The song was about this guy whose name was Sue. His dad gave him that name before he left his mom. During his school years, Sue got into all kinds of fights. By the time he grew up, Sue was the toughest guy in town, and nobody messed with him. One day, Sue ran into his dad, and decided to kill him for giving him that terrible name. After a fight in the street, Sue was about to kill his dad, when his father explained that he had given him the name Sue because he knew he wouldn’t be there, and he wanted Sue to be able to take care of himself. It’s kind of a dorky song, but it shows the importance of a name and the identity that goes with it.
Hosea married Gomer, and they began to have children. Instead of giving their children normal names, like Sue, or Billy, or Ralph, God led them to give names that had deeper meaning. The first child was named Jezreel, which means “God will scatter.” In the near future, God would scatter the Israelites at the hand of Assyria. Their second child was a daughter named Lo-Ruhamah, which means “not pitied”. This child’s name was a reminder that God had chosen to cease giving mercy. The third child was a son named Lo-Ammi, which means “not my people.” Because of their sin, God had decided to sever ties with those who chose to worship idols.
Can you imagine having one of these names? What a bummer! But the names of Hosea’s children were images of a greater reality, specifically God’s dealing with Israel. Every time his children’s names are mentioned, they are a reminder of God’s patience, the people’s unfaithfulness, and the impending judgement as a result.
So think about this. If God were to give you a new name that reflected your life in the Kingdom of God, and your true identity in Christ, what would it be? Take a few minutes to write out some possible names that reflect God’s work in your life.