So many names! We have names. We are called by name. God calls us His people, “sons of the living God” (Romans 9:25-26). He gives us His own Name. We are in Christ. We “rejoice In His Name all day long” (Psalm 89:16).
More names! It’s great to have a name – and not to be a nameless person of unknown identity. It’s even greater to have the Name of the Lord given to us for our salvation. “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are saved” (Proverbs 18:10).
When we speak of “Israel”, as Paul does in Romans 22, we must not think of a nameless and faceless crowd of people. Behind the word “Israel”, there are many names and many faces to whom the Lord shows His mercy (Romans 11:31-32). The best name is the Name of the Lord – “My faithful love will be with him, and through My Name his horn will be exalted” (Psalm 89:24).
The names tell a story – the story of the historical development of the Lord’s purpose with His people. The many names, stretching over a vast expanse of time, highlight the greatness of God and the great work He is doing among His people. They draw out from us a response of heartfelt worship: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! …” (Romans 11:33). As we think of a progression over the course of many centuries, we realize the depth and dependability of God’s faithful love: “I will not take My love from him, nor will I ever betray My faithfulness” (Psalm 89:33).
Is there no end of names? As we read so many names, we wonder at the amazing scope of the Lord’s love – “God so loved the world … “ (John 3:16). When we consider the universal scope of the Lord’s great love, we are strengthened in our obedience to His Word: “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Romans 13:9). There are times when we find it difficult to see that God loves us (Psalm 89:38-45). In such times, we must not lose hold of Him. We must hold on to our limited awareness of His love. We must pray that a renewed sense of His love will return to us.
1 Chronicles 10 tells of the death of Saul – “Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord …” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). Romans 14 speaks of the strong and the weak. Physically, Saul was strong. Spiritually, he was weak. Maintaining our spiritual strength, our relationship with God, is to be the great priority of our life: “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). There is a physical harvest. There is also a spiritual harvest: “The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:20-21).