The Importance of Names in the Bible—and Why They're Still Important Today - Finds.Life.Church

The Importance of Names in the Bible—and Why They’re Still Important Today

by Laura Ketchum

Certain parts of the Bible tend to capture our attention more than others, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the lists or forget the importance of names featured throughout. Learn more from this extended entry from The Good Work Bible Plan.

Tell me if you’ve ever experienced something like this:

You sit down for your quiet time, your Bible and journal in front of you, your coffee in hand. You’ve been reading through whole books of the Bible, and you’ve found yourself increasingly invested—the stories you’ve read of God doing mighty works and heroes of the faith parting seas and conquering giants have captivated you. You honestly can’t wait to see what you’ll find in today’s reading.

You set your coffee down, open your Bible … and find a list of names staring back at you.

Yes, lucky you. You have found one of the many genealogies scattered throughout the 66 books of the Old and New Testament. And more quickly than you would have thought possible, you find your enthusiasm for the day’s reading has disappeared. You might trudge through those names. You might skim them or skip them entirely. You’re sure the names are of historical value, but it’s not as if those names have anything to teach you. Right?

Well, here’s the thing: the Bible tends to have more depth than we ever give it credit for. Even the sections containing long lists of names.

So, what can these lists of names teach us? Well, here’s a place to start:

In the Book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah takes on the work of rebuilding the ruined wall around Jerusalem, the wall that’s needed to protect the city. As we read Nehemiah’s account, we witness his tireless, heroic work as he is threatened again and again by those willing to kill him to prevent him from accomplishing his goal. But Nehemiah remains focused on the work God has given him, and eventually, we see him accomplish his goal. The formerly exiled Jewish people return to the city of Jerusalem and a huge celebration ensues as the people rejoice and glorify God for all that He’s done.

Seems like that would be a fitting place to end the book, doesn’t it? But that’s not where it ends. The book of Nehemiah continues for a few chapters, and one of the last portions of the book is dedicated to the list of Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem.

Another long list of names to trudge through. But here’s the thing. That tireless, heroic work Nehemiah did for the glory of God? Those are the names of the people impacted by Nehemiah’s work, whose lives were changed by the risks he took and sacrifices he made. And if you do God’s work, one day, you’ll have a similar list, made up of the names of lives changed because of the risks you took and the sacrifices you made.

So the next time you find yourself facing off against a list of names in your quiet time, think of the names in the book of Nehemiah. And think of the names on the list of lives you’ve changed by doing God’s work. Every word in God’s Word and every name on your list are important. They’re all there for the glory of God.