WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Sermon given on March 2, 1996

by Jim Erwin, Associate pastor

of McDonald Raod SDA Church, McDonald, TN

Today we want to talk about Jesus, and what's in His name, but it will be names that we usually don't think about. But before we get into that, if you please, think about your own name. Maybe you like your name, maybe you don't, maybe it's so, so, maybe you've changed it or wanted to change it at one time or have changed it. But think about your name.

Dale Carnegie says that to you and to everyone else their own name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Well if someone messes your name up, what's your first reaction? Yes, you want to correct them. That's right! It really gets kind of touchy sometimes.

There was a real outstanding football player who wanted desperately to play for the University of Georgia. He wanted to be a Bulldog. And the University of Georgia was desperate to have him. They wanted him to be a Bulldog, too. But do you know what happened? He did not play for them. He played for one of their chief competitors. Do you know why? Because in one of the very first letters the University of Georgia sent to him they misspelled his name.

Names are important, and we work hard at it. You know, we all do. Some of us struggle, some people have a knack for it, and Jimmy Carter got elected to the Presidency in part for his phenomenal gift for remembering names. Now I want you to think of a friend's name or a relatives name, and the person I want you to think of good times. You know, what kind of picture do you get when you bring up of somebody you've had a good time with? What are the sounds, what kind of feelings, do you have? What was the meaning behind those pictures, what you saw and what you heard, and how you felt. You know, there is meaning behind a person's name. Personal meaning for each of us, the way we relate to certain people.

Our names, many times, do have a specific meaning. For example, when Kristin our daughter was born, we named her after a Norwegian young lady that we knew that we knew that had come to be an Adventist on her own in a little church of three or four older women and she went against the grain of Norwegian culture in the sixties. And we named her after her. WE named Kristin after her, and we spelled it in the Norwegian way, K R I S T I N, and we, and you know, you look at that, and it never dawned on us until Pastor Gettys dedicated Kristin in Hartford, Michigan. And he said, "What a lovely name. It's like Christ's name." And we had never put the K and the CH together. Because the name was spelled so differently than what we normally spell Kristin (Christine?) And we said, "Yeah, yeah" And so we went home and the first thing we did when we got home was to pull out the dictionary and looked up Kristin's middle name which is "Rene". Kristin means Christian, what does Rene mean? It means "Born Again". So her very name was, you know, she was a born again Christian, and oh, that was great, so the next time we were having a baby we were in trouble. Because we had to come up with another name that meant something, and we had to pick out a boy and we had to pick out a girl, because we didn't at that time what it was going to be. Even though they did ultrasound, they couldn't tell. And so finally just four days before Michelle was born, we had picked out a name for a girl and a name for a boy. Michelle's name is Michelle Dené. The first name, Michelle, is the feminine french form of the Hebrew word, Michael, which means, "Who is Like God." Dené is the feminine french form of Daniel, which means, "God has Judged." Who is like God, God is Judge. And if God is if God is in any way like Michelle, God has a lot of fun. That' all I have to say about that.

In the Bible, we want to look at some meanings of names. First of all, if you please turn to Exodus, chapter three, we want to look at a name for God that God says was His. In the Hebrew it is Yahweh. In the King James it is many time translated as Jehovah. Or in other times in the newer translations it's put in capital letters, L O R D, LORD. So you have three names for Jesus in the Old Testament: Yahweh, the Hebrew form, or Jehovah in the King James for part of the time, and LORD in NIV. Exodus, chapter three, Moses is arguing with God, saying, "No, I don't want to do it, God. I don't want to do it. Send somebody else, God. I don't want to do it." And finally he says, "Well, if I go, and they're going to ask me your name, what shall I tell them. And God said to Moses in verse fourteen, "I Am who I Am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I Am has sent me to you." I Am what I Am, or it could be translated: I Will Be what I Will Be, or it could be, "I am the One who causes to be." And Jesus is the Creator, isn't He? He created this world, he created us, and He re-creates us every day. So, that was a very powerful name. The name of a very powerful God.

And in the New Testament, if you look in the gospels, particularly in the gospel of John. Get a concordance and look at how many times Jesus takes the term "I Am" to Himself. For example, turn to John eight, He's in discussion with some of the religious leaders, and they're not too happy with Him, and in verse twenty-three and twenty four they're talking about who Jesus is. Let's look at verse twenty-three, "But Jesus continued, 'you are from below, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins if you do not believe that..." What? "I Am", or I Am He, or I Am the One I claim to be. You will indeed die in your sins. And that same concept is repeated throughout the gospels.

There are a lot of one-word names in the Old Testament that incorporates the word LORD or Yahweh in them. For example, Isaiah means the LORD saves. Jeremiah means that the LORD is exalted. By the way there were seven Jeremiahs. There were seven Isaiahs, but only one of them is spelled with an "i". There are fourteen Hananiahs, the LORD is gracious. There are thirty-two Zachariahs. What do you think that means? It means, "The LORD has remembered."

Don't you like it when you go somewhere and somebody calls you by your name and remembers you? And aren't you frustrated when somebody comes up and says, "O, Remember me?" "Well, LORD, I hope so. Help me." And so the LORD remembers. By the way you've heard Uriah. There were five Uriahs in the Old Testament, and it means, "The LORD is my life."

If you're like me, most of the time when you go to fill out a form, as an application for a loan or to do something, what part of your name do you have to put first? The last name. Yes. And then you put your first name. We could say for our purposes today that LORD, capital L O R D, all caps would be the last name for what we're going to be looking at. If you really wanted to put the Hebrew and the New Testament together like some people do you'd hyphenate it. You know there are a lot of people with hyphenated names, and so you say, LORD-Jesus, Lord Jesus. But we'll just use the term "LORD" today. And we're going to add some first names, and middle names. You know the British sometimes have four, five, six, seven names. And at least I've met some of them.

So we're going to look at some names of the LORD that apply to us. We're going to look at three and then at four. The first three have to do with our salvation, so if you'd like to turn to Jeremiah twenty three, we find a name that Jeremiah uses for the LORD as a first name. Daniel happens to use it several times in Daniel nine. So this would be a very important name for us as Adventists because We're particularly interested in Daniel and Daniel nine. Jeremiah twenty-three, verses five and six. Now this is Jeremiah. Verse five reads, "The days are coming, declares the LORD when I will raise up to David a righteous branch. A king who will reign wisely, and do what is just and right in the land. In his days, Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: "The LORD Our Righteousness". The LORD our righteousness. So in the Old Testament, in Jeremiah the LORD had a first name. And the first name is Righteous. And you put it together when you translate it. It's just two word in Hebrew, but we have to translate it just a little bit longer. The LORD Our Righteousness.

Now what does that mean to us? Well, one thing it means is that the LORD has already made a decision about our mistakes and our sins. He has made the decision to forgive us if we ask Him and He has already forgiven us. The only thing we need to do is ask and say, "LORD, I know you have promised to forgive me my sins. I'm claiming that promise. Thank you for forgiving me my sins." Now it's not something that we can earn or that we can do to attain that righteousness. It's a gift.

We want to turn to these particular passages. In Zechariah three, there's the high priest named Joshua, The LORD's standing there and the devil is standing there, Satan is doing his thing accusing Joshua, and Joshua had on filthy clothes. But then Jesus the LORD, Our Righteousness, says, "Enough of this. Bring him a new set of clothes." And then Jesus, the LORD Our Righteousness, turns to Zechariah and He says something to Joshua. And He said to Satan first, He says, "I rebuke you, Satan. This is a burning stick snatched from the fire." And the angel standing nearby said, "Take off his filthy clothes, put on his good clothes, new clothes. And the end of verse four, "Then The LORD Our Righteousness (that's Jesus), said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin. And I have put rich garments on you." Whose garments? Yes, Christ's garments. And he said, "I have also put a new turban on you." In Luke fifteen there's the story of the prodigal smelling like a pigpen, clothed in rags, and what did the father say when he met him? Says he, "Now son you need to get cleaned up. Get those filthy clothes off. Now I want to talk to all you teenagers about wearing all those filthy clothes." Did the father say that? No.

One of my daughters has a very sensitive nose. And I perspire a lot, but I can be in the house with the air-conditioner on and still perspire a little bit. But just a little bit is just enough for her to know, and I'll come in and she'll say, "Dad, you stink." I haven't even been outside working. So sometimes I got to the place where I'd go outside and work and get real hot and muggy and dirty and sweaty and stinky and then I'd walk in and say, "Hey, Kristin, How about a hug for Dad?." "Oh, get way, get away. Go take a shower. Go put on clean clothes. Then I'll hug you." Is that what Jesus says to us? The LORD Our Righteousness? No. He says, "I'll put my clean clothes on you. and take away your dirt, your sweat, your smell, and I'll clothe you in my clothes and you will be clean, and you'll smell good.

Now, once the LORD pronounces His righteousness upon us, there's another name. Let's look in what's the meaning of this name. What's in this name. If you'll turn to Leviticus twenty, the church manual of the Old Testament. And as you turn, I want to ask you a question. Have you ever been made to feel special by somebody? Somebody may say to you that you're my favorite niece or you're my nephew. Or somebody would come to you and say to you that Gramma always liked the way you cheered her up ad there was something special that she wanted you to have. For example, my gramma wanted me to have an old banjo that she used to play. Or maybe you've been in a situation where you were a new Adventist and.... Like when I was in grade school and the only thing I went to school for was to play ball, and the eighth grade teacher was the principal and coach, was a shirt-tail relative, and he came out one day and caught me in the gym one day and he said to me, "Jim, you didn't go out for basketball this year. How come?" I says, "Well, (his nickname was "Ham") Ham, you know we're going to the Adventist church now." "Yeah, you go to church on Saturday. What's that got to do with basketball?" I said, "All your games are on Friday night." "Oh, your Sabbath goes through Friday night, too?" I said, "Yeah." And he said, "Well, Jim, I need you on the team." I said, "I can't play on Friday night." I had come to that place in my religious experience where I felt that way. I had begun to move in the direction of becoming an Adventist Christian. He scratched his head, and said, "Well, Jim. Look, you're the tallest guy in the class. And you're one of the best shooters I've got. I'll tell you what I'll do. If you go out for basketball, I want you there (in other words, you're special), and I'll take care of the Friday night stuff." First time in the history of that school they didn't play Friday night basketball. He had to arrange it with every team that we played to make a special night for us.

Leviticus twenty, in verse eight, "God says, (in verse seven) consecrate yourselves and be Holy because I am the LORD your God. Keep My decrees and follow them, I am the LORD who makes you holy and (in my margin it says, who sanctifies you or sets you apart as holy or who says, "you are my special child.") and every one of us here today, me and you, we are all special in God's sight. He has chosen us as special people. You know, at one time as some people still do, they set aside a suit or a special pair of shoes, or dresses to make Sabbath special. And we have special Sabbath meals. And here, God says, "I have set you aside as special for Me."

How do you know who is the bride in a wedding? Is she dressed like everybody else? No, not really. There's a special song that the bride comes in by. She has a special dress she is wearing. And sometimes the is a special train that follows her. I've never mistaken the groom for the bride. Have you? I've never mistaken one of the bride's maids for the bride. Because she was set apart as very special, and in the wedding ceremony the bride and the groom set aside each other as very special for each other.

One time a Lutheran pastor was teasing me. Actually I was hoping he was teasing, because he was razzing pretty hard. As we talked back and forth he says, "Well, Jim, you know I'm teasing you, don't you?" And I said, "I was hoping and praying that you were." And he laughed, and he said, "Yes, well actually I admire Adventists." And I said, "Why is that?" And he said, "Well, at our church people come into church on Sunday morning; it's like a quick pit stop. They stop doing what they are normally doing and running for the pit stop and then take off again, like stopping at a gas station to fuel up before another rush around the town. But you take a whole day out to be with each other and to be with the LORD." And God set the Sabbath aside to be a very special day for us to be with the LORD our Righteous, and the LORD who sets us aside as special. And on that day we can stop for a little bit to realize how special we are to God.

What in a name? The LORD is our righteousness, One who make us special, and after that, He is the One who heals. The LORD who heals. Exodus fifteen, verse twenty six. Just a few page in front of Leviticus. Exodus fifteen, here is a situation in which the people come to a place where they can get some water to drink and are very thirsty, and anytime you're in the desert you're likely to be thirsty. They got there and they couldn't drink the water because it was so bitter. And the Lord told Moses how to heal the water so it would taste good. Exodus fifteen, verse twenty six. "And He said, 'If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you all the diseases I brought on to the Egyptians for I am the LORD who heals you." The LORD who heals.

So we have the LORD our Righteousness, the LORD who sets us apart as special and the LORD who heals us. This is not just physically, this is also spiritually and morally. And it took a while for the LORD to get through and for me to allow Him to start healing me spiritually. Didn't want to go to church. Thought it was crazy. Well, I'll go to church, but it's crazy to give up ball and swimming. Well, I'll go to church. Maybe I will go to a church school instead of playing ball. I'm for sure never going to be a preacher, that's the worst thing in the world. And then finally, "All right, Lord, have it your way. Your will be done." It takes time sometimes for the Lord to heal us.

Isaiah fifty-three, verse five tells us the way the Lord heals us. In the part that I want us the think about is "by His stripes, or by His wounds, we are healed." Where did He get those stripes and those wounds? At the cross. At the cross where I first saw the light. And there we go when we need to be healed spiritually, morally and even physically. We kneel down at the cross and we say, "Lord, heal me. Heal me."

So, what's in a name?

But what does that say about our everyday life? Turn to Exodus 17:15. What's in this name? Remember that we're saying that LORD is the last name and we have all these first names for Jesus. Exodus 17:15, "Moses built an altar (this is where they got water from the rock) and called it, "The LORD is my Banner. What's the banner of the United States? Yes, it's the flag. All the twelve tribes had banners. Over here we have the Christian flag, which is a banner we march under as well. A banner is a pole, and ensign, a standard, a flag. Even a miracle. It's a rallying point to kindle hope and effort. The banner bearer in the ancient world was one of the most important if not the most important soldier in the army. Because if the banner bearer was pushing on to the front of the line the soldiers followed. And if he got chicken and turned around and ran, what did the other soldiers do? Well, they followed the banner, the flag, wherever it went. You know the monument on Iwo Jima. Several men died to put that banner up. And under the Christian banner how many Christians have given their lives? In the great controversy between Christ and Satan, so that they would not dishonor Jesus, they held the banner high, even though they died. In the ancient world, when the flag bearer, the banner bearer, got killed or fell down, it was the greatest honor in the world for any soldier, the first one that could get to the banner and pick it up and run to the front with it again. There was no lack for any soldier to pick up the flag and carry it on. And that's the way it is in the Christian faith. When a banner bearer falls, he's killed in battle, the rest of us pick up the flag and move on, and follow it. So we're under Jesus' banner. And that's the cross again where He was lifted up and carried Jesus high.

When I went into the Army I was proud to be an American soldier. Even though it seemed most of the country was not proud of me, I was still proud to be an American soldier. Even though I didn't even want to go to church, I am proud to be a Christian today, because I've come to understand what Jesus is all about. At least part of it.

What's in a name? Genesis 22 talks about Abraham and Isaac going up on Mount Moriah. And we look at an interesting passage here. Abraham doesn't even tell Sarah where he's going. In verse 13, Abraham has Isaac on the altar. He's ready to slay Isaac. And the LORD calls to him in verse 13. Abraham looked up, and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by the horns. And he ran over and took the ram and it as an offering instead of his son. 14. So Abraham called that place, "The LORD will provide," or the LORD will be seen, or the LORD's provision will be seen.

I was at Camron Bay. Safest place in Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson said, when he was there. It's the only place he visited that I know of. Well, of course, the Vietnamese couldn't let that go by. So they hit the place.

I was there as a patient medic on a ward, the sixth convalescent center. That whole area didn't have any weapons. They were all locked up in quartermaster. The only people who had weapons were the guards.

I tried to call home to my wife. I was sitting there, I had signed up the day before, I had sat for three hours, and the guy said that he'd been there for a year and that was the clearest lines he'd ever had. Well, when it came my time to go on, guess what happened. A major who was feeling his power walked in and commanded under court-marshall to the soldier in charge to put a call through for him. You can imagine what the rest of us guys were saying, thinking. We didn't say it. (I road home with a gentleman who spent his entire year in Vietnam investigating why high-ranking officers and sergeants got fragged and shot in areas where there were no weapons.) So he made his call, and I was sitting there and stewing to the Lord.

You know, I could have been an officer. The Army wanted me to be an officer. They wanted me to fly a helicopter. I didn't have to put up with all this garbage like this guy was dumping on me. It was my turn, and the phone went dead. OOOmm!! You can imagine how I felt and what was thinking when I went back to my ward. It took me three hours to calm down enough to lay down and try to sleep.

That was about twelve-thirty. At about one-fifteen I found myself sitting up in bed, and the guy next to me said, "What's wrong, doc?" I said, "I don't know." He sat up on his bed. and we heard thump. thump. "Ah, it could be mortars." And the they were closer. Yeah! And then they got closer!

Then the sergeant in the ward shouted, "Hit the bunkers!" And so we all started running around, and some guys knocked me backwards. You know it's a rough night anyway. Arrh! And I went around my bed and the whole end of the ward just Pshow! went up in flames. It was like a chicken house, you know. The concrete slab floor wasn't even finished, the boards, and screen doors and so forth. And I saw the guys come running by me and in the backdrop of flames they came flying back through the air at me. And the sergeant hadn't made it to the door, so he said, "The other door!" So we all like sheep turned to the other door and K- 47's opened up. That was not mortars. We didn't have any weapons. And so sergeant, "Hit the deck!" And I was back by my bed, and I started to reach for my mattresses as I went down as a security blanket, and somebody had taken it.

Oh, what a bad night. And I was laying there hugging the floor as good as I could but I was doing push-ups. You see, I did between 200 and 300 push-ups while I was in training. I was doing full-fledged push-ups I was shaking so hard. Now I had already graduated from Southern College with honors in theology so I couldn't say, "Lord, get me out of this mess. I'll be a preacher. So I said something like, "Lord, I can't promise you I'll be a preacher, I already am one. But I don't think you wanted it to end this way. At least, I don't. Whether I live or whether I die I would like to do it with some dignity. Would you please calm me down." And I went from full-fledged push-ups to just a little bitty tremble.

And everything got quiet. I opened my eyes. Pitch black. And I was thinking, couldn't hear anything. I said, "Lord if I'm dead, it's not like we thought. And then somebody breathed and somebody else breathed and then I breathed and then the Sarge said, "Get a markers!" You know, those guys from the enemy could have killed every one of us, and they did kill hundreds that night. But when I put my life in God's hands they just turned around and left. You can explain however you want to. But when I said, "God, it's in you hands. It's all right with me, whatever you want to do," they left.

The LORD has provided, or the LORD will be seen, or the LORD's provision has been seen. What's in a name? Ezekiel 48; The LORD is there. It's right at the very end of Ezekiel and its talking about the New Jerusalem and God, and he says, "The LORD is there." It's like John said in Revelation 21, "The LORD will be there with His people." And the Lord was with me there that night. He'll be with you in the problems and challenges that you face. And because the Lord was there, what in a name, When Gideon met the Lord, the Lord said, "You go. You get rid of these armies that are coming in." And Gideon didn't want to do it. And the Lord said, "The LORD is peace. You go, you do what I ask you to do, and you'll have peace."

What's in a name? Think of these names we've talked about today: The LORD our righteousness, the LORD who makes us special, the LORD who heals us, the LORD is my banner that I march under, I walk under, I live under. The Lord has provided, and the Lord is with us there even when we may not see it.

The rest of that story is I got around all the garbage that was laying everywhere. The busted up and blown-up buildings and signed up to call again the next night, and when I got there I sat and waited for two or three hours, and just as it was my turn, guess who showed up. Old major boy. You could feel the ice in that room. Hundred degrees, but you could feel the ice. And the guy says, "I can't do it for you." And he says, "I'm going to court-marshall you." and the guy says, "Well, I'm sorry. You can't over-rule the commander of this base. The commander says, 'If anybody that calls home on Tuesday can't call home on Thursday.' Sorry, major."

You could just tell inside...One part was saying, "Oh, praise the Lord, praise the Lord." And another part was saying, "Oh, now Jim, preacher Jim, you shouldn't get all excited about that thing, about his wife and his family." "I know, Lord, but I can't help it. Thank you Lord, Praise to Jesus." The Lord was there and I didn't even know it.

I called home. My father-in-law answered. I said, "Hi, Dad." He said, "Jim, are you all right?" "I'm fine, didn't get a scratch. I don't even qualify for a purple heart, so don't worry. Where's Andy?" "She's been in the back room, in her bedroom, bawling for the last five hours." Well, bring her to the phone. Tell her I'm okay." So she came to the phone, and didn't believe it. So I started talking to her. And she kind of stopped for a minute and believed it and I said, "You can stop crying now. I'm okay." And she started crying again. And I said, "Why are you crying?" "I'm crying because you're okay." You know, the Lord was there, and I didn't know it. And for the rest of my tour there I was at peace because I knew that whatever happened to me was the Lord's will and I didn't have to worry.

What's in a name? Think about the Lord's name and all of His first names. As you go throughout your Sabbath and this week, remember the Lord's name.



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