God's Naming Ceremony
Excerpts of Pastor Idowu Iluyomade's Sermon at the Thanksgiving Service on Sunday, June 11, 2017
Bible Text: Genesis 35:16-19 [KJV]
In some parts of Nigeria, naming ceremony for a new-born baby is usually done on the eighth day. The baby is given names (an identity) to distinguish him or her from other babies. This identity stays with the baby and throughout its life. The eighth day set aside for naming a child, is also a day for circumcision of a male child. Circumcision connotes you entering into a new relationship with God; you make a covenant with God, and you are separated unto God. A naming ceremony is thus a significant event. It is a day that names are given and it is a day of change. This month incidentally has been declared by God as a month of change, and we expect positive changes in our lives in Jesus Mighty Name. Positive change however places a duty and responsibility on us to activate it through our prayers and actions.
In the story in our text, Rachel named her baby Benoni meaning son of my sorrow. This implies that people are given names sometimes based on the circumstance of their birth. Here, Rachel’s life was characterized by troubles and disappointments - married to a cheat, Jacob; a father, Laban who was also a cheat; and a mean sister, Leah. Rachel fell in love with Jacob and soon got her heart broken on the wedding night when she was replaced by her sister – her very own flesh and blood. She had to wait for 14years before she got married, then she had to wait again before she gave birth to Joseph; her first son whom she named Joseph, which means the Lord will add to me another son. Surely, the Lord added and she became pregnant again. Sadly, she went into hard labour and gave birth to another son but lost her life in the process. However, before she died she named her baby Benoni – son of my sorrow. She must have remembered all her pains, sorrows and in agony she declared her baby a son of sorrow.
What’s In A Name?
What’s in a name we may ask? Does it matter what names we give our children? A name is a tag that naturally follows us. Names can set the tones for one’s life or even make or mar one’s life. Destines have been shaped or manipulated in the process of naming a child. Imagine if Benoni grew up with the name Sorrow. For example, Ruth 1:2 says Elimelech and Naomi named their children Mahlon [Invalid], and Chilon [Pinning, Waste away, Fade away]. Little wonder their lives were wasted and they left no legacy. Also, Nabal in 1 Samuel 25:25 means folly and of course foolishness was his trademark and he acted foolishly. God had to change Abraham and Sarah’s names so they could fulfil their destinies. Abraham means the father of many nations and that he became. Jacob, meaning Supplanter was also changed to Israel; Saul was changed to Paul and Peter to Rock.
Change Of Name
Jacob understood the effect of a name on a child and he had to quickly change Benoni (son of sorrow) to Benjamin (son of my right hand). It is therefore apparent that a change of a name is necessary in some cases. People are also tagged with names because of their circumstances. Some people have been tagged barren, jobless, failure, poor, sick, single…. But we serve a God who can change names and give new identities. I pray that whatsoever name that you have been tagged contrary to God’s plan and purpose for you, will be changed immediately in Jesus Mighty name and God will give you new names. The Bible says in Isaiah 45:4 “ For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel Mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.”
One name that no one should bear is an unbeliever or sinner. The future of anyone bearing this name is predictable, and it also shows who is the father of such a person - Satan. Whose identity are you carrying? The identity you carry will by default determine where you will spend eternity. The God Head is willing to conduct a naming ceremony for you right now if you are willing to renounce your former identity, and He will give you a new name. If you are willing to repent and surrender your life to Jesus Christ, then pray this prayer right now: LORD Jesus, I come to You right now. I know I am a sinner, please forgive me my sins. With my mouth, I confess that Jesus, from today I accept You as the LORD of my life. With my heart, I believe that it is because of me You came to this world. You died for my sins, You took away my sins, take away my problems also, give me a new name, let my life be great, write my name in the Book of Life, and make me brand new in Jesus Mighty Name.