Names; December 14, 2019

Malachi 1:1 A prophecy: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.

For once, I was struck more by a footnote than I was by the actual text. The footnote in question says, “Malachi means my messenger.” We don’t think so much about names, but historically, and specifically in the Bible, names have had great importance, with God changing people’s names, as in Abram to Abraham (Genesis 17:5) and many others, as well as specifying names. Of course the greatest example of the latter is Jesus, which means, “God is Salvation.” That name was specified to both Mary and Joseph before He was born. Here we have the name of what is called a “minor prophet,” not necessarily because he was less important than others but because he wrote less to be recorded in the Bible. I don’t remember ever noticing the meaning of his name before now, but it is so extremely appropriate that I wonder if it was actually the name he was given at birth. In any case, he functioned as the Lord’s messenger faithfully, delivering messages that could not have made him very popular, particularly with the priests. His faithfulness is attested to by the fact that his messages were acknowledged as Scripture, even long before Jesus was born. Even today people who are faithful to speak what God is saying tend to get in trouble with the authorities, even in supposedly “advanced” countries, with people being arrested in Canada and elsewhere for supposedly “hate speech” by simply stating the Biblical position on gender and marriage. And of course that doesn’t touch what is going on in China as well as Islamist countries for anyone who dares to proclaim that Jesus is Lord. Being chosen as God’s messenger is the highest of honors, but it can be a fearsome one indeed. To me, the lesson from this is that parents need to be careful and prayerful about what they name their children, but what God calls us is most important, hands down.

Before I was born my parents decided on two names, since they didn’t have ultrasound to let them know my gender ahead of time. I have no idea what girl’s name they chose, but the one that was given to me was chosen by asking my paternal grandfather, Ernest Perry Jackson Garrott, which of his names he liked best, and then adding my paternal grandmother’s maiden name, Maxfield (which was also my father’s middle name, and the one he went by), making me Jackson Maxfield Garrott. When I was an infant someone said to my mother, “That’s a mighty big name for such a small baby.” She replied, “He’ll grow.” I don’t remember ever disliking my name, but I do remember choosing to be called “Jack” rather than “Jackie” from the point I entered the 1st grade. I have always considered it a great honor to carry one of my father’s names, and particularly the one he went by. (My brother received his actual first name, William.) As grateful as I am for my name, I understand that what God calls me is far more important. I would be more than honored if He called me Malachi, but I hardly think I rise to that level! I do desire to be faithful in speaking out in love all that He speaks to me and to be immediately responsive any time He calls me, whatever He calls me!

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that I have indeed inherited a good name from my ancestors, (Proverbs 22:1) with no stain of disgrace or rebellion against You that I am aware of. May I indeed carry the name of Christian and the title of Disciple in all faithfulness, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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