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The Name Game

“Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”1

I enjoy watching a good espionage movie where the protagonist has to change their identity to go undercover or into hiding. They go through a name change and sometimes a whole new look; get new identification and quite literally become a whole new person!

In the Bible, God occasionally changed someone’s name when He needed them to become a new person that would bring glory to His name. Last week, we saw that God changed Abram and Sarai’s name to Abraham and Sarah; names that would go down in history as the Father and Mother of many nations. Years later, Abraham’s grandson also went through an identity change.

Jacob was born a twin, a fraternal twin, physically he was very different than his brother. However, Jacob struggled with the identity crisis of not being born first.  While in the womb, Jacob fought to get ahead by grabbing his brother by the heel, and later in life he blackmailed his brother by trading him a bowl of soup for the right to be the firstborn. And, as their father lay dying, Jacob deceived his dad by dressing up as his twin and claiming the blessing and inheritance meant for the firstborn – his brother. Jacob did not have a good track record and had, unfortunately, stained his name. But God had bigger plans for Jacob that required that he go through an identity change. God had planned for Jacob to be the father of the twelve nations of Israel, one nation named after each of his twelve sons. Then God adequately changed Jacob’s name (which means “deceiver”) to Israel (which means “wrestled with God” and “triumphant”). Jacob had to turn from his deceitful ways to become the man God needed him to be and he did. He sought his brother’s forgiveness and allowed the Lord to use him in a mighty way. Under a new name, God allowed Israel to become remembered as a man who was changed by God.

Our new identity in Christ allows us the privilege to leave behind who we were and become known as a follower of Christ, faithful and honorable, bringing glory to God in all things. Isn’t it time we changed our name?

Suggested Prayer:

Dear Lord, you have a reputation for using the most unlovable people and using them for your glory. I know that despite my past, your plans for me are great. Today, I seek a new identity in you and ask that you change my name to one that brings honor and glory to you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  1. Genesis 32:28.

All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.