Name Meanings: How Is Your Name Prophetic?
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…” Proverbs 22:1 (ESV)
Most people love seeing their name. Personalized items are always in demand. However, did you know that your name and your name meanings might have a lot more to do with your life than you think? Your name meanings might actually describe some of your character traits and/or the traits that God will use in you to accomplish His will for your future. When your parents named you they may have not even had name meanings in mind (I don’t think my parents did–I was named after a horse!), but that doesn’t mean that God didn’t have the name meanings in mind. God very well may have inspired them to choose your exact name. God knew your name and had a plan in mind for you before you were even born!
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart…” Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT)
“Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.” Psalm 139:16 (HCSB)
We’ve been talking recently about fighting some of the fears that we face (previous posts here and here). One of the things I didn’t mention is that I often use my name meanings to help me fight fear from time to time. The name “Tracy” means “courageous” , “brave” or “warrior” (maybe that’s why the horse was named Tracy 🙂 ). It may seem a little silly, but more often than not that little bit of information has been enough for me to give myself a boost to stand up to my fear and to do things afraid. I will say to myself, “Your name means courageous and brave. You can do this.” My middle name is “Jeannette” which means “grace of God”. I have also experienced not only God’s grace in my life, but I believe that God has graciously given me the ability to have grace with others. I look back on my life and honestly have a hard time comprehending how I made it through certain times. I have had ability and power to make it through situations that I ordinarily would never be able to handle. God’s grace was evident in my life.
I have read and heard many times that names are prophetic. Often the meanings behind the name are manifested in our lives in some way or another at some point. Name meanings can play out throughout the course of our lives and even after. There are countless examples in the bible of just that. Names in biblical times were very important because they often indicated a person’s character or traits. Take Isaac’s son, Jacob for example. His name means “supplanter” (meaning to take the place of, replace or overthrow) or “heel catcher”, named that because he was born grabbing his older twin’s heel. The name was fitting for both meanings because Jacob did eventually supplant or take the place his older brother/twin, Esau, by talking him out of his birthright and deceiving his father in order to get the blessing typically bestowed upon the firstborn. God had actually told Rebekah before the boys were even born that the older son would serve the younger son (in other words, he would be supplanted).
“Isaac pleaded with the lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The lord answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins. But the two children struggled with each other in her womb. So she went to ask the lord about it. “Why is this happening to me?” she asked. And the lord told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.” And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins! The first one was very red at birth and covered with thick hair like a fur coat. So they named him Esau. Then the other twin was born with his hand grasping Esau’s heel. So they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when the twins were born.” Genesis 25:21-26 (NLT)
““One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry. Esau said to Jacob, “I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!” (This is how Esau got his other name, Edom, which means “red.”) “All right,” Jacob replied, “but trade me your rights as the firstborn son.” “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?” But Jacob said, “First you must swear that your birthright is mine.” So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob.” Genesis 25:29-33 (NLT)
“But he said, “Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing.” And Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”” Genesis 27:35-36 (NKJV)
At first glance, Jacob’s name meanings seem negative. However, God ended up using them for good. He did, however, change Jacob’s name later to Israel. The nation of Israel and God’s people (including us) were forever blessed because of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (not Esau). Even if your name meanings have a negative connotation or might seem to have a bad meaning, it might not necessarily mean that you are doomed or have bad characteristics. You never know how God may use that to play out in His plan and purpose for your life. God can take anything (even seemingly bad) and use it for good.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)
If you study names in the bible you’ll discover that names are very powerful and often contain deep prophetic meaning (I could go on but it takes more time than we have in one post). There is no other name with more power and meaning than the name of Jesus. Jesus means “God saves” and/or “salvation”. If that’s not prophetic I don’t know what is! Jesus was and is salvation and continues to be until the end of time. God saved us through Jesus.
“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 (NLT)
“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.” Luke 1:31 (NLT)
Lastly, another great example of the power and prophetic nature of name meanings can be found in the names of God, Himself. Each of His names has meaning defining His different characteristics, His attributes and His nature. Here are a few examples from the Old Testament:
Adonai – Lord, Master (Genesis 15:2)
El Elyon – The Most High God (Genesis 14:18-20)
El Olam – The Everlasting God (Isaiah 40:28-31)
El Roi – The Strong One Who Sees (Genesis 16:13)
El Shaddai – Lord God Almighty (Genesis 17:1)
Elohim – God of Power and Might (Genesis 1:1)
Jehovah Jireh – The Lord Will Provide (Genesis 22:13:14)
Jehovah Mekoddishkem – The Lord Who Sanctifies You (Exodus 31:13)
Jehovah Nissi – The Lord My Banner/Victory (Exodus 17:15)
Jehovah Raah – The Lord My Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
Jehovah Rapha – The Lord That Heals (Exodus 15:26)
Jehovah Sabaoth – The Lord of Hosts (Isaiah 1:24)
Jehovah Shalom – The Lord is Peace (Judges 6:24)
Jehovah Shammah – The Lord Is There/Present (Ezekiel 48:35)
Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
Yahweh – Lord, Jehovah (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Qanna – Jealous God (Exodus 20:5)
Take Some Practical Steps to Discover How Your Name Meanings Might be Prophetic:
- Do some research on the name meanings of your first and middle names (and even last if you want)—Write them down somewhere (a journal, a file on your computer, a note on your smartphone or in a “This is My Life” notebook-see below). You can do a web search for “name meanings” and browse through some of the sites to research your names. Here is a website that has a pretty easy-to-use search function to look up name meanings:
Another option is to search or google some baby name websites because they’ll often have name meanings and include some history behind the names. Here’s a fun one I found (you might find some discrepancies in spellings though and may have to look up a similar name…“Tracy” was not found but only listed as “Tracey”):
Joe McGee recommends that you create a “This is My Life” notebook. You can find examples and instructions for the notebook in Section 3 (Channels of Income—Gifts, Callings Vocations & Work) of his book: Family Finances Making and Managing Money. This book has been a really helpful resource for my family. The name meanings discoveries were just an extra bonus!
- Think about instances or situations where the meaning of your name really did come into play in your life–Write them down somewhere (same place as before). For example: “I was _____ when I _____.” (I was brave when I killed that giant spider with a dictionary.) Has your name been somewhat prophetic in any way? I gave you a couple of examples earlier about how my name has caused me to act brave. I’ve had to behave like a warrior at times, and I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone more times than I can count! God’s grace is also an apparent force in my life.
- Consider how your name might be prophetic and how God might use the meaning or character traits of your name in the future–Write it down somewhere (same place as before). For example: “God might need me to be _____ when He has me do _____.” Do you know or have an idea of some of God’s plans and purposes for your life? How might your name meanings prove to be beneficial in the future? I’m quite sure I’m not done being brave yet. I’m almost positive God has a lot more scary tasks ahead of me! God WILL use your name meanings to carry out His plan for your life!
What are your name meanings? Have you already seen examples in your life of ways that your name meanings have been prophetic? Leave a comment below (click on the post link to join the conversation if you’re viewing through e-mail) or take the conversation to your favorite social media channel (sharing links below).
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