Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name?
Surely you know! (Proverbs 30:4 ESV)
Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11 ESV)
Have you ever noticed how often ‘the name of God’ or ‘His name’ is mentioned throughout the testimony of Scripture? If so, have you ever really thought about why the name of God is so significant and even central in the Word? Why is His name a refuge and strong tower (Proverbs 18:10), why is it so important that we never take the name of the Lord in vain (Exodus 20:7), why is it imperative that we bless His name (too many verses to list) and exalt His name and praise His name, and why, if we pray in His name (John 14-16) and ask for things, will He respond?
If you really think about it, it doesn’t totally make sense to the 21st century mind that the concept of a ‘name’ could be so important as to be referenced in almost every book of the Bible. But it is. And this is why: biblically, a name is not just a name, it’s an entire identity. It’s a story. It’s a revelation. It’s a message. It’s the description of the unique attributes, character, and personality of an individual.
The reason that we sing “What a beautiful name it is” is not because “Jesus” is a beautiful word or an especially nice-sounding name, it’s because Jesus is a beautiful and glorious Person. When we run into the strong tower of His name and we are safe, it’s not because His name has special protective powers, it’s because Jesus Himself is our refuge and our strength. We begin our prayers to the Father, as Jesus suggested, with “Hallowed be Your name,” or we end our prayers “In the name of Jesus,” because we enter into His presence with thanksgiving and we have confidence to draw near to the throne of grace when we remember who Jesus is and what He’s done (Heb 4:14-16). In fact, the only way we truly enter into His presence with boldness is by our certainty of His identity and as we love and worship Him in all His beauty and splendor. And the commandment to never take His name in vain really parallels the command to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and strength, and thus we are never to take God for granted or belittle who He is, especially with our lips. His name is holy, because He is holy. His name is the reflection of and testimony to all of the glory and goodness that makes Him who He is.
The whole of our worship is wrapped up in the wonderful name of Jesus because our faith exists and has all of its life in the identity of the beautiful God-Man, Christ Jesus, our Lord and King. He has the name that is above every other name, because He is supreme and preeminent in His identity and existence (Col 1:18). And at the mere mention of His name, all of our thoughts and emotions should instantly shift into remembrance of the totality of His love and glory.
This is the God who created the stars, the planets, and the galaxies, and holds them all together by His word even as you sit and read this devotional (Gen 1, Col 1:16-17). He is the One who put the mountains in their lofty places and set the boundaries of the oceans, ‘this far and no more’ (Ps 65:6, Ps 95:4-5, Prov 8:29-30, Job 38:8-11). He tells the flowers to bloom in Spring and opens His hand to feed and satisfy the desire of every living thing (Mt 6:28-30, Ps 145:15-16). God is the One who inspired and sustains the very breath in your lungs (Gen 2:7, Job 12:10, Isa 42:5, Acts 17:24-25). He is the incomparable One who is slow to anger, rich in mercy, abounding in love, compassionate, kind, faithful, true, and just. Our God left His throne with a multitude of angels singing His praises day and night, and He wrapped Himself in dust (Isa 6:1-3, Phil 2:6-8). The God who made the heavens was laid in a dirty manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes under a starry sky in Bethlehem (Jn 1:1-3, Lk 2:7). He grew in wisdom and stature, and all the while, with every word He spoke and every movement of He made, He was revealing the God Most High through the life on earth of the Word Made Flesh (Lk 2:40, Jn 1:14). God-in-the-flesh walked the long road of Calvary carrying a Cross that was not His. He let men, with the very hands that He Himself knit together in their mothers’ wombs, nail Him to that Cross of shame, crying out “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk 23:26-49). God, the Son, gave His life so that we could be with Him where He is (Jn 17:24). But even death itself could not contain the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Indeed, the Risen Christ overthrew the power of death, and before returning to His Father and His throne, He visited His dearest friends and made sure they knew He hadn’t left them after all and that He never would, even to the end of the age (Mt 28, Lk 24). This is our God, who even now sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for you and for me and leads our lives with cords of loving-kindness. We simply say His name and our hearts reel with unrelenting longing for His return and nearness… “Come, Lord Jesus, come” (Rev 22:20).
We remember His goodness, His glory, His beauty, His tender mercies, His justice, His faithfulness, His kindness, His patience, His zeal, and His great love, and we bless His Name. We remember His story and His word, and we exult in His great name. We remember how He’s led our lives with such faithfulness and kindness and how we can see His hand in every twist and turn, and we sing praises to His wonderful name. We realize that there is no one like Him, no one who even comes close to Him in comparison or worth, and we fall to our knees and worship His holy name. We worship His Name, we pray in His name, we hide ourselves in His name as a refuge, we sing of His name, we delight and exult in His name, and we never ever take His name in vain, all because this Name is the fullness of who God is… it is the revelation and identity of God Himself in all His unsearchable glory. What a beautiful Name it is… the name of Jesus Christ my King… what a beautiful Name it is… because absolutely nothing compares to Him.
Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the Lord is to be praised! (Psalm 113:2-3 ESV)