Names For Life (Just A Minute #133)

Andy Bonikowsky
Written by Andy Bonikowsky

Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego. (Daniel 1:7)

There are many important child naming scenes recorded in the Bible. Esau and Jacob, Benjamin, Moses, Samuel, Ichabod, and John the Baptist are a few. Each of these received special attention in the first minutes of their lives, as their fathers or mothers wrestled with choosing just the right name.

No doubt the parents of Daniel and his three friends all had a story to tell.

But they could never have foreseen the dramatic events that would swell their choices with providential significance. That the parents deeply loved and revered God is obvious: Daniel meant "God is judge". Hananiah meant "The Lord is Gracious". Mishael meant "Who is like God?". Azariah meant "The Lord is my Helper". It is quite likely that among the first spiritual lessons the boys received were the doctrines of God linked to their names.

Judging by what happened next, those parents did a fine job of teaching their boys.

While they were still teenagers, the Chaldean army launched its first attack on Jerusalem, and all four sons were torn from their homes. Did they have time to say goodbye to their parents? Was there even a moment for a quick, last prayer as a family?

We don't know. But we can imagine their long journey to Babylon gave them plenty of time to realize that they would never see their families again. From then on the golden silhouette of the City and its Temple, as it glowed against the setting sun, would only be enjoyed on the screen of their memories.

Along with these thoughts came others that would undoubtedly be hurled at them by ungodly peers inside Nebuchadnezzar's court. Daniel, what kind of insensitive judge is your God? Hananiah, that's an odd kind of grace your Lord has! Mishael, your God isn't any better than the rest! Azariah, where was the Lord when you needed Him?

They were teenagers, with grandiose dreams like young men of every age. But now they traveled towards a strange and uncertain future, still stunned and numb with shock.

Fortunately, the theology of their names had truly burned down into the depths of their souls. Those truths had become what they really believed, and as the initial shock wore off, their minds found firm footing in the doctrines of God.

According to custom, Ashpenaz changed their names to exalt Babylonian deities. But the strategy failed completely. It soon became obvious to all that Jehovah was in fact everything their names implied.

Perhaps you are living a situation that seems to contradict your Christian name. Maybe the circumstances squeezing in on you just don't make sense, to the point that those around you are wondering how you will reconcile your trials with the gracious Sovereign you claim to know.

Take heart and latch on to the example of these four Hebrew youth. They went through a lot to provide us with a model of the right way to live up to a godly name.

Dear Father, the stories of Daniel and his friends are fascinating. But I pray their example would stir me beyond mere respect, and on to courage and determination to follow in their footsteps. Amen.