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Bible Insights

3 People Given a New Name by God

In the book of Genesis, God gives a new name to three people.

In doing so, God is effectively saying, I’m giving you a new identity. You may see yourself according to what your parents called you at birth, but I see you differently. I’m giving you a new name and a new future.

  • Abram becomes Abraham
  • Sarai becomes Sarah
  • Jacob becomes Israel

The Amplified Bible tells us the meaning for five of these names:

Abram/Abraham

Abram means “high, exalted father,” whereas Abraham means “father of a multitude” (Genesis 17:5).

Sarai/Sarah

The meaning of Sarai is not given, but Sarah means “Princess” (Genesis 17:15).

Jacob/Israel

Jacob means “supplanter” (one who usurps or replaces another), whereas Israel means “contender with God” (Genesis 32:28).

The Value of a New Name

Consider their original name given to them at birth. Contrast this to their new name given to them by God. How is God reorienting their perspective? Read about them in the Bible to see how they live up to the new identity God gave them. Their new was transformative.

Would you like God to give you a new name? Click To Tweet

There is power in a name.

Would you like God to give you a new name? Just ask him and then listen for his answer. Now adjust your perspective to live up to his new identity for you.

If you do, it will change the rest of your life.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 15-17 and today’s post is on Genesis 17:5.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Women in the Bible: Sarah

The story of Sarah is scattered among the narrative in Genesis 11 through 23. Not only was she the first wife of Abraham, she was also his half-sister. Before we get too weirded out by this, recall that at this time, marrying your half-sister wasn’t prohibited.

Sarah, whose name means princess, was a looker, and Abraham worried would-be suitors would kill him to take her, so he asked her to just say she was his sister. He even said this would be an act of love (Genesis 20:13). She agreed and did so twice, with other men taking her as their wife.

Both times God worked things out, but I can’t imagine what she went through when they took her and Abraham did nothing to stop them.

Although God promised Abraham children, Sarah grew tired of waiting. In her old age she concocted a plan where Abraham could have his promised child through her servant. It was a boneheaded idea, and Abraham was even more stupid for going along with it. Heartache resulted.

Later God confirmed Abraham’s chosen child would come from Sarah. She laughed and was criticized for it. (Interestingly, Abraham also laughed but wasn’t chastised.) A year later, the child was born; she was ninety and Abraham was 100.

They named him Isaac. Ironically, Isaac means laughter or he laughs. I think God’s still laughing now about a ninety-year old woman giving birth.

Sarah lived another thirty-seven years and died at 127.

Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

She’s Not My Wife; She’s My Sister

Abraham, the great man of faith, did not always act that way. Once, when fearing for his safety, he lied to king Abimelech, claiming that Sarah was his sister and hiding the fact that they were married.

Assured by Abraham’s lie, Abimelech felt free to take Sarah into his harem. Fortunately, God intervened before anything happened to her, revealing the truth of the situation to Abimelech in a dream.

God’s instructions to Abimelech were simple: return Sarah to Abraham and then Abraham would pray for Abimelech.

Abimelech quickly returned Sarah as instructed. He also gave many gifts to Abraham, as well as to Sarah. Then Abraham prayed for Abimelech and everything was made right.

How many times we act in the same way, doing things that God didn’t ask us to do and that he didn’t require. Click To Tweet

What is interesting is that God never told Abimelech to give gifts to Abraham and Sarah. Abimelech did that on his own; God did not require that.

I wonder how many times we act in the same way, doing things that God didn’t ask us to do and that he didn’t require.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Sarah Laughs at God

Sarah Laughs at God

In Genesis 18:10-15 we read the amazing story of Sarah being promised a son in her old age. When she hears this, she laughs—I would to; it seems preposterous (but for an all-powerful God, nothing is impossible).

In fact God rhetorically asks Abraham (Sarah’s even older husband) “Is anything too hard for [me]?”

A little faith, even with some doubt sprinkled in, is enough for God. Click To Tweet

Sarah’s laughter at God’s promise may have been delight, but more probable, it was doubt. Even so, God did as he promised and Isaac was born to Sarah and Abraham within the year.

Despite Sarah’s laughter over what was humanly impossible, God later commends her for having faith, Hebrews 11:11. Although she doubted, she apparently had enough belief so that God would later esteem her for her faith.

We may not have immense faith, but a little faith, even with some doubt sprinkled in, is enough for God.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.