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Naming Rights

March 28, 2017

“To him who overcomes . . . I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17

Is there anyone out there as excited as I am that it’s baseball season again? Some questions were once brewing about “the Friendly Confines”—the home field of my beloved Chicago Cubs. When the ownership of the team once changed hands, fans wondered if the historic ballpark at Clark and Addison would continue to be called Wrigley Field, or whether the “naming rights” might be up for auction to the highest bidder who could then change the name to identify the old ballpark with his or her name. In the bigger picture, of course, it’s not a life-or-death issue (except maybe to some diehard Cubs fans). But the debate brings up an interesting topic.

When we come into this world, our parents give us a name. It goes on our birth certificate, gets written across the top of our school papers, and serves as a means of identification throughout our whole life. But our given name is just the beginning.

Almost immediately, we begin acquiring nicknames. Some are just abbreviated versions of our official name. I’m rarely called Joseph (unless I’m in trouble) and was branded with Joe early on. Other nicknames, pleasant or not so pleasant, are descriptive of our characteristics or actions—and if you’re a guy, you hope for something like Slugger or Champ! Throughout our lives we will probably end up with a couple of very specific nicknames from a loved one, such as Honey, Princess, or Sweetie. Nobody else uses those nicknames; they’re just for that special person.

Scripture tells us that God is going to eventually give us a new name. Hey, if you aren’t so thrilled with the name your parents gave you, take heart, a new one is on the way! But more important, think of the level of relationship this implies. There is a name that is going to be just between you and God. It is His special name for you! And while Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly how God chooses a new name, we do know that every time He changed a name in Scripture—like Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, and Jacob to Israel—it was to remind someone of a new way He was going to work in their lives. In other words, it was a positive, encouraging change.

John shares another important detail about this new name in Revelation 2:17. Quoting Jesus, he writes, “I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it.” Before you start picturing this as something like a plaque or a mini-license plate from a gift shop with your name on it, you have to understand an important custom from New Testament times. In those days, an invitation to a special, exclusive event would arrive in the form of a white piece of marble with your name engraved on it. On the day of the gala event, you would present that piece of marble at the door as your means of access to the celebration. So Jesus is actually saying, “The day is coming when I’m going to give you a new name, known only to you and me, engraved on a white piece of stone as your entry and invitation into eternity.” Wow! Incredible!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to find out my new name. After all, He bought the naming rights for my life!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • List a few characters in Scripture whose names were changed by God. What changes did the new names signify in their lives?
  • How does the promise of a new name fit with the reality of our new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)?
  • Revelation 2:17 reminds us of the personal nature of God’s knowledge of us as His children. How does that encourage and bless you today?