December 30, 2019
The North American Baptist Conference is publishing a devotional for each day of this Advent season. We are pleased to share the devotionals from this past week. Please visit the Conference website for additional details by visiting www.nabconference.org/articles.
Originally published by the North American Baptist Conference.
From the beginning of Genesis to the end of John’s revelation, the names used to describe, worship, or talk about God are varied, but each of them is a window into the different characteristics and facets of His person. Advent is a celebration of the arrival of the Messiah, who, against all expectations, was born of a virgin from a small town in Judea. Beginning December 1 and running through Christmas Day, we will be sharing short devotionals that examine the different names and titles that God has taken for Himself throughout Scripture.
When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, I’m doomed! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”
“It is all right,” the Lord replied. “Do not be afraid. You will not die.” And Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means “the Lord is peace”). The altar remains in Ophrah in the land of the clan of Abiezer to this day. (Judges 6:22–24 NLT)
When Gideon realized it was the angel of the Lord who was instructing him to rescue Israel from the Midianites, he responded first in fear and then in worship, building an altar to Yahweh-Shalom. It might seem odd to set up an altar to the God of peace before going off to battle, but Gideon’s concept of peace was likely much broader than simply the absence of conflict. In all likelihood he understood peace—shalom—to encompass much more: wholeness, well-being, harmony, the way God intended things to be. Gideon certainly had his doubts about his own worthiness for being chosen for this great mission, but he ultimately trusted in Yahweh-Shalom to make all things right.
Read full devotional.
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’ ” (Matthew 1:22–23 NLT)
In the first round of the 2003 NBA playoffs, at the third game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Mavericks, 13-year-old Natalie Gilbert stood in the middle of the basketball court to sing the national anthem. However, two lines into the song, she forgot the lyrics. When he noticed her floundering in front of the nearly 20,000 people attending the game, Maurice Cheeks, the head coach for the home team Trail Blazers, ran to her side, draped his arm over her shoulder, and began singing right alongside her. Soon, the entire stadium joined the pair. After Gilbert sang the last note, the coach gave her a quick hug, and she quietly thanked him as the crowded stadium applauded and cheered.
Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:19–21 NLT)
Repeatedly throughout the Bible we see examples of the importance of names as signifiers. Whether a name serves as a testament to God, like Samuel (“heard by God”), stems out of a description, like with Esau (“hair”), or acts as a prophecy, like Peter (“rock”), naming a child is considered an important and weighty decision.