WHAT’S IN A NAME? Read Daniel Chapter 1

Juliet in Wm Shakespeare’s play asks the question ‘what’s in a name?’  She continues by saying that a rose by any other name would still and ever be a rose smelling much the same.  How true!  We also know that sticks and stones may break our bones but for sure names WILL hurt us.  When I was in elementary school (we called it Grammar School at South Mountain School in Millburn, NJ) we had all kinds of nicknames for each other…like poor old Goofy Goldstein or Wacky Weckstein.  I was ‘hunker’ to some neighbor kids because I was chunky then… and now!  I didn’t like that name. Can you blame me?   It embarrassed me.  I felt ashamed.  I’ve never forgotten that name and some others also.   Can’t you easily dredge up names given to you that hurt and wounded, names you can remember like it was yesterday?  Doesn’t take a lot of imagination to know how Daniel and his 3 friends must have felt with their new names.  Look at verses 6 & 7 of chapter 1 to discover that not only had these special young Israelite men been taken forceably into foreign exile in Babylon, but were involuntarily given new names. No longer bearing the names of their true God, but having the names of foreign and idolatrous god’s names.  Think about that for a moment.  You no longer can  give praise to Yahweh God in your very name, but must give honor to Bel and Marduk and Aku and Nego…false gods, all of them.  These 4 men were forced to break one of God’s main commandments– to have no other gods before Him, the true God of Israel.   At a time in our lives when it seems as if bearing the name of Jesus is open to scorn and condemnation, when others seem to put new names on us like ‘bigot’ or ‘redneck’ or ‘narrow-minded’ or ‘hater’ or whatever…what are we to do?  Verse 8 gives us some clear direction–‘But Daniel resolved not to…’  In the Hebrew language it says that Daniel determined, committed in his heart and mind not to give in.  The outward circumstances may be beyond our control but inside we have resources to help us from the Lord Himself.  When under societal pressure, remember what God has done for us…forgiven us, saved us, redeemed us.  And remember that God calls us by names like His child, His friend, His chosen one from the foundation of the world.  Put those names on your heart.  Keep repeating them over and over, so that when the false accusations come, they’ll not sound real.  What God has said about us, the names He’s given us are real and will sound authentic and healing and helpful when we need them and Him the most.  ‘There’s a new name written down in glory and it’s mine…’!  Oh yes–mine and yours!

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