“Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.” (Genesis 1:4-6)
Names were sacred and meaningful to the ancients, as they still are today among many peoples. A name was considered an extension of a person’s being or essence, an expression of his or her personality. Here we see that God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, from “father of many” to “father of many nations” as a way of reaffirming His covenant and the promise of many descendants. Sarai is named Sarah, or princess. The meaning did not change but the new name is a sign of a new relationship with God, a blessing about to take place. The son promised to them was about to be conceived. All these promises would be fulfilled by God’s grace, not by Abraham’s efforts or schemes.
In our day many people strive to make a name for themselves, to make their name known, respected and perhaps feared, to have their 15 minutes of fame. This seems to be the motive of some serial killers but also the actions of adrenaline junkies, celebrities, and the movers and shakers. As for the rest of us most want to do something that will make us unique, something for the record or history books. This seems to be a desire intrinsic to our nature. We all want to be remembered, to be known. We do not want to be forgotten in this life or after death. But in God’s economy worldly achievements are not very important. But what is really important is not earthly fame but a heavenly relationship, a relationship with the Lord. But that is something we do not achieve by our efforts but by grace through faith.