Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.” And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Genesis 41:51-52, NKJV)
It was common in the Old Testament to give children meaningful names. Names that parents hoped would define their child’s character, names to describe the location or circumstances of their birth, or names to illustrate something the parents themselves may want to remember. Also, names were changed later to commemorate new experiences.
In Genesis 21: 3-6, Abraham named his son Isaac, which means laughter because Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.”
In Genesis 32:28, an angel of the Lord changed Jacob’s name to Israel because he “Struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
Naomi changed her name in Ruth 1:20 to Mara because she said, “The Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.”
In referring to Jesus, Matthew quoted the prophet Isaiah, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” translated as, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23 and Isaiah 7:14.)
Some names were more flattering than others. Joseph named his children “for God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house” and “for God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” as constant reminders of the goodness of God.
We rarely name children that way anymore, but there are other ways we can put the goodness of God before our eyes every day:
- Read and memorize Scripture.
- Worship even when alone.
- Keep a prayer journal.
- Write Scripture on paper and put it in visible places around the house.
- Fellowship with like-minded people of faith and use right-minded social media to encourage ourselves and others.
When I think of the goodness of Jesus and what He has done for me,
My soul cries out, ‘Hallelujah! Praise God for saving me!’
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to remember Your goodness, grace, and mercy all the days of my life. May I never forget Your sacrifice on the cross, even for a moment. You loved us before we loved You. May everything I do glorify You and Your name. In Jesus’ name, amen.