Today’s Reading: Genesis 34-36
Today’s Reflection: Genesis 35:10
10) And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel.
The births of twin brother Jacob and Esau prophesied their intertwined destinies. Esau was born first, but with Jacob’s hand clamped around his ankle, as if he was already struggling to get ahead of his older brother. Jacob’s name meant, “he who takes by the heel”, marking him as someone who caused others to stumble, a cheater, a trickster. And it was a name Jacob had lived up to (or lived down to) twice cheating Esau out of the inheritance that was rightfully his.
But God had chosen Jacob over Esau to continue the covenant He had begun with Abraham—His promise to create a great nation through which the world would be blessed (Genesis 22:17-18). So after many mistakes, challenges and humbling lessons, culminating with a literal wrestling match with God (Genesis 32:22-32), Jacob learned to submit wholly to God’s authority. He had finally prevailed in his struggles both with God and with man. There was now no more cheating, no more tricks, so the name Jacob would no longer do. In God’s eyes this man was now a prince, so God named him Israel.
Do you know where your name comes from? More than likely it was chosen for you because of earthly circumstances—its popularity, its history within your family ancestry, the culture you were born into (I received my name because my father happened to take Spanish in high school). Whatever the details, the purpose or destiny God intended for you may not have played any role in the choice of name you were given.
But when you make a decision to serve God, and He leads you to the unique purpose for which you have been created you may find that your name—a name that may be associated with past sins and mistakes, by you or your family—will no longer do. In these cases know that God has a new name for you. A name that represents all of the gifts He has given you and that marks you as belonging to Him and Him alone. Lay claim to your new name as a symbol of the new creation God is molding you into.
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.