During my years at Bible College, I had the opportunity to hear a great many pastors and missionaries speak in Chapel services once a week. To get our attention, most of them began with a joke or funny story. Some of them were real groaners, but one of my favorites was this one:
“Who was the shortest man in the Bible?” Some of you will think, Oh, that’s too easy. It’s Zacchaeus. Sure, we all know the children’s song about him being a “wee little man.” The Bible says in Luke 19 that he was “little of stature,” and couldn’t see Jesus over the crowd of people.
Alas, it’s not Zacchaeus. Nehemiah, then, you say? Yes, his name does sound like he’s only “knee high.” (Don’t start groaning… you haven’t heard the zinger.) Give up? I can’t keep up the suspense any longer… it’s one of Job’s friends – Bildad the Shuhite. You can’t get much shorter than “shoe height.”
I thought back to this joke when I was studying the book of Nehemiah. He was the king’s cupbearer and he got word that the walls around Jerusalem were broken down and the gates burned with fire. When Nehemiah heard this terrible news, he wept, and mourned, and fasted, and prayed before God. (This is a great lesson for us, but not my point at this time.)
As I read about Nehemiah’s quest to rebuild the walls and gates, with the king’s permission, I noticed how many names were specifically mentioned. Why? Every word of God is pure. Every word is important; it’s up to the serious student of the Word to figure it out.
Using Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, I looked up each name. Chapter one, verse one mentions Nehemiah and his father Hachaliah. Put the meaning of father and son together and you get this message: “Whom Jehovah enlightens, Jehovah comforts.” Think about Nehemiah being enlightened about the condition of the wall of his beloved Jerusalem and his reaction. God gave him the task of assembling a team to rebuild the wall, and God also protected everyone the entire time.
The meanings of the names of these willing helpers is an amazing story. Here are just a few: “God will restore,” “God has favored,” “Mindful,” “Rise up,” “Jehovah is my light,” “Friend,” “Jehovah blesses,” “God delivers,” “Righteous,” “In the affliction,” “Trumpet blast.” (Devotionally, I see a message – God delivers the righteous in the affliction when the trumpet blasts! Think about it.) Moving on: “Thankful,” “Joyful shouter,” “My strength is God,” “Fear of Jehovah,” “Healer of Jehovah,” and many more.
I’m sure Nehemiah was comforted by the number of volunteers who carried such great names and were dedicated to the task at hand. Names are important to God; look at all of them in Scripture, recorded there for a purpose! The Bible says this about Jesus Christ: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” We call upon the name of the Lord. There is strength in the name of the Lord. There’s power in the name of Jesus! God knows our name, and after the millennium and the old earth is burned away and the new earth is in place, HIS name will be on our foreheads.
So next time you’re skipping over lists of names in your Bible reading, consider why they are there. You may find a special message just for you.
Note: After I wrote this, I found this meme on my Facebook page: Satan knows your name, but he calls you by your sin. God knows your sin, but He calls you by your name. Serendipitous?
I'm currently working on finishing my second book, Vulcan Dirt Diving Through Life, available soon on Amazon. The book revolves around humorous stories of my fallings , light bulb moments, family, and every day life lessons, all from a biblical viewpoint. ( My first book is not available at this time as I'm updating the cover and content.)