One of my favorite parts of the Confirmation Process in the Roman Catholic Church was adopting a name new, symbolic of a spiritual transformation. The confirmation name I selected was John Jay, after the first chief justice of the United States. Jay’s accomplishments include American statesman, patriot, diplomat, and abolitionist. While Revisionist Historians are attempting to rewrite the history and spiritual heritage of our founding fathers, there is power in a name who demonstrates the love of Jesus.
As for Me, behold, My covenant (solemn pledge) is with you, and you shall be the father of many nations. 5 Nor shall your name any longer be Abram [high, exalted father]; but your name shall be Abraham [father of a multitude], for I have made you the father of many nations, Genesis 17:4-5.
While Moses doesn’t go into specifics, God renames Abram Abraham and Sarai Sarah at the beginning of Genesis 17. As a teenager, my cross-country teammates were big on nicknames. Over my four-year running career, I accumulated several. Some of these names I hated, but others were earned throughout the course of a season. In the passage above, Abram’s new name symbolizes the future that God has prepared in advance for Abraham, Philippians 1:6.
And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai; but Sarah [Princess] her name shall be. 16 And I will bless her and give you a son also by her. Yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her, Genesis 17:15-16.
Meanwhile, Moses’ recollections of Sarai wasn’t impressive. Beside becoming a member of Pharaoh’s harem for a short period of time, Sarai became a bitter old woman who wasn’t able to have children. Desperate to have children, Sarai tried to force the issue, granting permission for Hagar to become Abram’s secondary wife. If anyone needed a new name, Sarai was ready for a do-over in life. Just as Abraham was granted a new name, Sarai becomes Sarah, meaning princess and future mother of nations. This is the power of a new name.
by Jay Mankus