Shabbat Shalom, friends! I trust you are having a relaxing and delightful Sabbath. After a busy week of cleaning yachts here in Kemah, Texas, I am delighted for it to be Sabbath!
What’s In A Name?
In this week’s Torah portion, we start a new book: Exodus and are studying Exodus 1:1-6:1. As always, much could be discussed in this Torah portion, but today I want to focus on clarity and courage, something Abba has been personally teaching me in everyday life. Inevitably, life will present many precarious scenarios that we will need clarification on and then much courage to pursue whatever it is we needed help discerning. Moreover, what does our names and more importantly God’s Name have to do with clarification and courage?
Early on in the Book of Exodus, we see two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who ancient Jewish sages have speculated may actually be the names of Moses’ mother and sister, but we don’t know for certain. Since the assigned title of this week’s Torah portion is “Shemot”, which means “names” in Hebrew, it may be worth mentioning the potential meaning of Shiphrah as “beauty, harmony” and “Puah”, means something similar “splendid, radiant”. Both these ladies were commissioned to kill the Hebrew baby boys at birth, but instead these women bravely saved them. Consequently, the Lord viewed their obedience as beautiful, in harmony with His will, and splendid so He blessed them accordingly (Exodus 1:20-21). In order to have that amount of courage, Shiphrah and Puah must have had much clarity and motivation for rebelling against Pharaoh by saving the Hebrew babies. Some historians have said this was the first act of recorded civil disobedience.
One such Hebrew baby Shiphrah and Puah saved was Moses, who was named by Pharaoh’s daughter upon finding him in a tiny ark at the banks of the river. She named him “Moses” because it means “pulled out of the water” or “drew out” or “delivered out of the water”. Fascinatingly enough, Moses’ entrance into Pharaoh’s realm was the same as his exodus being delivered by water. After all, we know in later chapters of Exodus, Moses and all those who followed him, were indeed delivered out of the water many years later in the crossing the Red Sea incident. Through it all, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob not only reveals Himself to Moses, but He shares His Name, and gave Moses clarification on how God wants to use him to save not just Hebrew babies, but all the Hebrews dwelling in Egypt at that time. Unlike Shiphrah and Puah though, Moses is not willing to challenge Pharaoh. He often attempts to persuade God he is not the guy for the job. However, God specializes in selecting unlikely candidates to fulfill God’s “to-do-list”. God’s plan was to use a man named “delivered out of water” to deliver His people through water.
Names are significant and can be prophetic. For example, when living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a couple of years ago, I was on a God “to-do-list” assignment looking for a specific individual, at a specific event (Carolina Country Music Fest), to give a specific word. In the process of waiting for that divine encounter, Jerry, my husband, and I met a man name Luke meandering outside a bar listening to the country music being blasted from a stage nearby. While Jerry was being his typical jovial self, my eyes continually scanned the crowd looking for the gal I was supposed to find and give a word to. But while my eyes were scanning the people around us, my ears were surprisingly tuning into a word for Luke. The Holy Spirit was reminding me of Luke in the Bible, who was a doctor by profession and clearly an author or writer (to have written that book of the Gospel). I sensed the Spirit wanted me to encourage the Luke in my presence to write the book he’s been afraid to write for it will heal people. So despite the loud music and drunken obnoxious people partying in our midst, I said what I was implored to say to dear Luke. Upon saying such things, Luke began to tear up wondering how I knew that he had been fearful about writing his idea for an book. All of which allowed for me to share with him (while Jerry was there) the love God has for Luke and God’s plan for him. All Luke needed was divine clarification and courage. I guess God could check that one off His list that night.
Similarly, all Moses needed was clarification and courage even after he stepped out of his comfort zone and attempted to confront Pharaoh. In Exodus 5:22-23, Moses goes back to God to essentially say, “Yeah, this crazy assignment of Yours isn’t looking the way I think it should, so why are we doing this again?” Sound familiar? I confess I have had similar rebuttals with God. And yet, God reminds Moses of His plan of making His Name known to the Hebrews in it all (Exodus 6:3). Why is it important to know God’s identity, His Name? Because as His people, we are called to bear God’s Name as His representatives bringing heaven to earth. How do we bear God’s Name? By obeying Him. So whether you are instructed to save Hebrew babies or lead people out of captivity or simply compelled to rest on the Sabbath, you are bearing God’s Name to a confused, lost world. By obeying God in His written instructions and personal specific instructions for your life, you are bringing others into clarification and courage as well as being delivered in the process.
Could your name be a prophetic clue as to how you can best share God’s Name here and now? Does your new name given after overcoming this world reflect how well you beared God’s Name over your lifetime or represent how you will serve Him in the world to come (Revelation 3:17)? In other words, is your name giving His Name shame or does it represent His latter rain? Something to pray about and ponder this Shabbat.