What is in a name? Shakespeare had Juliet ask this very question in Romeo and Juliet. Her response to her own question was “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
In our culture, names are typically chosen by going through a baby book while you’re expecting your child. Some people will use a family name or a name of someone who has had a major impact on their life. Then there are those in Hollywood who come up with names that make you wonder if any thought at all went into the selection or if they just happened to be having breakfast while choosing a baby name. Let’s face it, Apple or Coco will become the subject of ridicule at some point in life, probably on the playground.
In Biblical times, names carried meaning. When we read through the scriptures, we tend to gloss over names, especially if they are hard to pronounce; however, God wastes nothing. If He went to the trouble to have the name recorded in the scriptures, we need to recognize there was a reason. He let us in on something by including the names.
The Christmas story is recorded in the beginning of the book of Luke. Before we get to the birth of Christ, we read the prophesy of John followed by his birth. Luke 1:5 says “In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.” By looking at the names in this verse, we can uncover a deeper understanding of what God was saying to us.
Most of us know Herod was part of the royal family. He was the king of Judea and known to be less than kind. Zechariah means “remembered of Jehovah.” For one who had longed for a child of his own, it was important for Zechariah to know he was remembered by God. He prayed and prayed for a child, yet in his old age he remained childless. His name alone was a source of strength.
Next we come upon the name Abijah, who was in Zechariah’s family line. Zechariah gained his heritage from his family line. Abijah means “my father is Jehovah.” That’s pretty awesome. Zechariah came from a line of people who were the children of Jehovah. He waited on God to remember him and his prayer for a child and now we know he could wait in peace because he had the favor of God. He was Jehovah’s child. I don’t know about you, but I’m partial to my children.
Following this long introduction of who Zechariah is, we read of the birth of his son, John. God didn’t just answer his prayer for a child, but he gave him a son, which in that day was big stuff. It was better than winning the lottery.
As you read through the scriptures, try not to gloss over the names mentioned. Research them. God may be trying to teach you something about the time period, the people or even yourself. As Christians, we, like Zechariah, are children of God. He remembers us when we pray. His favor rests upon us simply because we’re His. Don’t give up when you pray for something, even when you’ve been contending for a long time. God hears you and He will respond. You won’t always get what you want, but He will always give you what you need. When you come before the Throne of Glory, remember who you are!