What's In A Name?
Lord God, today I would hear You speak to me once again through Your holy Word. I’m ready and listening.
Read Genesis 35:16-29
 Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty.  And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.”  As she breathed her last-for she was dying-she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.  So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).  Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.  Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder.  While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it. Jacob had twelve sons:  The sons of Leah: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.  The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.  The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali.  The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram.  Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed.  Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years.  Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat great sadness befell Jacob here?
This story reads like the last chapter in Jacob’s life. There are two burials and a son is born just before Rachel dies. There’s a kind of genealogical table that points to the emergence of a new nation. You wouldn’t be surprised to read that they all lived happily ever after; except this is not the end. Soon, the saga of Joseph’s capture and exile will commence, along with Jacob’s long lament. But that’s another story. There are, however, big changes in Jacob in this narrative, marked in two surprising ways. His identity moves from Jacob to Israel from one verse to the next (20,21), and he alters the name of his newborn son to signify his hope, rather than Rachel’s despair (18). New identities are all around! This is where we leave Israel, a man in the process of spiritual transformation. Through him, God’s covenant promises are about to be fulfilled. He has a new name and a God-given identity and promise. His story isn’t over yet!
Are you living out your identity as a child of God (John 1:12). What does this new identity mean to you?
Lord Jesus, thank You for giving me a new identity as the Father’s beloved child. Help me live that way!