Mission glory number 4– welcome to Welling. This is for your spiritual growth and health, for your spiritual well-being and your ministry overflowing. We are in a series answering the question, what’s your life about? It is a defining moment and a decisive moment for every human being when he or she finds out what his life is about.
We are drawing from an amazing passage in the Psalms, where even before the fall, there is a capture and counsel for all our living for the mission, for what we’ve been created to be and do, and why we are. Your mission in life is much deeper than what you do every day, but through what you do every day, to bring that mission to completion– we’re probing the question of mission around those five plus one major questions by which we get to have all knowledge.
The last time we talked about mission what? Mission as glory– that is, the more weight God has in your life, the more great He looks through your life. The more weight He has in your life, the more praise you bring to Him. Our Psalm begins with a powerful double naming of God, and I want to talk about the concept of naming itself.
It says, Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the Earth. How majestic is Your name. Now, in the culture from which the Psalms arose, there is no great difference between the name and the person. They’re integral to one another. So when he said the name of God is majestic in all the Earth– by the way, not only in verse 1, the opening verse, but in verse 9– those two versus envelope the entire Psalm to give us focus.
Do not go beyond the boundaries of God’s mission for the human race. So the Hebrews– they attached character to their names. We named children today by what is a popular politician’s name, or an athlete’s name, or even after an event. We can also tell when a person was born by the names that they have. And I know that some names are making a comeback.
Until recently, my wife’s name Bonnie was not very popular. It actually located her chronologically, though my music teacher in elementary school taught me that wonderful song, “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.” And when I shared that with my mother, my mom said, perhaps that’ll be so. Indeed, I married a Bonnie who was a long way from where I was grown, across the oceans.
We name babies for rhyme or alliteration, don’t we? Everyone in our family begins with an R. My siblings– in fact, my kids– all of them have a Bible name, a Western name, and a non-Western name– an Indian name. I had a friend who said, oh, so you got one Bible name and two pagan names for each of your kids?
Now, for the Hebrews, name took on a covenant tone, a relational tone, a tone of commitment. It covered and carry powerful spiritual meaning. They did not name people for convenience, but carefully, to not only elicit memory and be evocative in character, but also to form character in people’s lives.
Even today we come across those who have changed names in self-naming acts. When a person comes to the Lord Jesus from a pre-Christ or non-Christian religion, they often take on Christian names to show how decisively their identity is now being reformed. People take on nicknames as well to reidentify themselves.
During the Middle Ages, some citizens in Poland and Russia were made to take German names so that they could be set apart. In Fiji in the South Pacific, middle names show a little bit more of their birth circumstance, or even their relationship to their parents– even to their matriarchal lineage. Have you noticed that a nickname is far more true to meaning and character?
Now, naming itself was more than a cultural issue for the Hebrews. It was a theological issue. The naming of God itself was unique, because Israel lived in a world much like ours, where people could use a generic name for God, but to put precise names on God would have been seen as too confining, too exclusive. Today, if you name God in any way, especially as the Lord Jesus, people buck at it and challenge you, because they would rather have God as an abstraction, unnameable entity.
But as I usually say, an unnameable God yields a contradiction, for God’s name that would simply be the unnameable God. So that’s why Israel’s God did not have any problem in naming Himself. In Exodus 3, He said, I am that I am. And Israel also wanted to show that they were uniquely attached, that they knew and they would promote this God who had a name in a world of competing theologies.
Character, ability, personality, even identity was found in a Hebrew name. Israel’s God was unique and exclusive in Himself. He was also necessary and sufficient for His people. In the same way, our Lord Jesus is unique. And He’s exclusive in himself. He’s necessary and sufficient for human salvation.
God is something else– or better, someone else. And we will notice in a moment, something else and someone else– something else than mere human, someone else than other gods. To whom must we give the glory? To the God who has a specific name, whose majesty is known all the Earth, and must be made known in all the Earth–