Name, Character and Destiny

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1 (KJV)
Jacob (Israel) was told, “Look now, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed.Then Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz (Bethel) in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a great company of people, and will give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’ Genesis 48: 2-4(AMP)

Today’s devotion is an interesting one. That we can draw from and grow in our knowledge of the Lord and learn more of His character. The essence of this devotion is to highlight the significance of a name through how the Holy Spirit refers to one particular person with different names at different instances. This person is Jacob who is later blessed by the Angel of the Lord and called Israel. He is the patriarch of the nation of Israel which is in existence today.

In order to clearly understand the reason why at one point God refers to Jacob as Israel and at another point He calls him Jacob and in some parts of the scriptures God reveals Himself to His people as the God of Jacob. In order to understand this we must first learn the importance of names. In the Hebrew culture , as recorded in the Old Testament, word name (shem) meant “a mark of individuality; [with] implications of honor, authority, and character ”. In the Bible, name often provided an important clue to the nature of a person or place. A name meant one’s reputation.

Joseph accompanied by his sons visited Jacob because he was sick, Israel sat up. He became alert. From his action of strengthening himself to sit up, one can presume he was expecting something from Joseph, maybe a greeting that would then be followed by the reason of the visitation maybe Joseph would then introduce his sons, but instead Jacob not Israel began talking.

It is very interesting that the Holy Spirit, who is the inspiration behind the authorship of the whole bible, refers to him as Israel when he gathered his strength to sit up when Joseph and his sons arrived as Israel, which means prince of God. Israel is the new identity that the Lord blessed him with after they wrestled it means prince of God.

In the next verse the Holy Spirit called him Jacob when he begins to talk. The name Jacob means supplanter which means to deal with shrewdly or trickster or a con man. Clearly it is his former fleshy nature while the name Israel is his new identity, his calling and destiny. Every time the name Israel is used in place of Jacob it denotes that he is living in character as a prince of God and when Jacob is called he has fallen from calling to his former trickster ways.

Jacob was old at this point and with not much time left to live. Despite his age he was still struggling between his former self and his new identity. This also shows that our age doesn’t necessarily mean maturity or that we have achieved the excellence of God’s character. If we don’t die daily or crucify our flesh, we will keep struggling between the will of the Holy Spirit living within us and our flesh. Paul eloquently captures this battle that goes on within most of us in Galatians 5:16-23(TPT)

As you yield freely and fully to the dynamic life and power of the Holy Spirit, you will abandon the cravings of your self - life. For your self - life craves the things that offend the Holy Spirit and hinder him from living free within you! And the Holy Spirit’s intense cravings hinder your old self - life from dominating you! So then, the two incompatible and conflicting forces within you are your self - life of the flesh and the new creation life of the Spirit.But when you are brought into the full freedom of the Spirit of grace, you will no longer be living under the domination of the law, but soaring above it! The cravings of the self-life are obvious: Sexual immorality, lustful thoughts, pornography, chasing after things instead of God, manipulating others, hatred of those who get in your way, senseless arguments, resentment when others are favored, temper tantrums, angry quarrels, only thinking of yourself, being in love with your own opinions, being envious of the blessings of others, murder, uncontrolled addictions, wild parties, and all other similar behaviour. Haven’t I already warned you that those who use their “freedom” for these things will not inherit the kingdom realm of God!But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.

From this devotion we clearly see how God uses different names to show the character of the individual. Jacob reflected his deceitful character while Israel proclaimed his destiny as a prince choose by God. From this we can learn th3 eaning of God’s name and meditate on the character they reveal about Him because his name and act and character are inseparable. We can also ask the Lord to manifest His name in our lives, so that He can be glorified through us. Remember God can change your name in essence He changed Abraham, Sarah, Jacob and Benjamin’s name. This means He gave them new characters, destinies.

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