THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

A NEW NAME …

Jesus promised those who overcome, that is those who believe in him: ‘I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it’ [Revelation 2:17].
 
There is nothing in the Bible that gives us any definite idea what is meant by this ‘white stone’.  Elsewhere in the Bible, and in Revelation, ‘white’ symbolises cleansing/forgiveness, but refers to white clothing. Elsewhere in the Bible precious stones were attached to the garments of the High Priest to symbolise the twelve tribes of Israel whom he represented in the presence of God [Exodus 28:8-21], but these stones in Revelation 2:17 are not representative, they are given to the individual who overcomes. And perhaps that is the significance of these ‘white stones’: the person who believes in Jesus Christ has, in Christ, the right of access into the presence of God.

This connects with other biblical references to new names:

God changed the name of Abram to Abraham, as part of his covenant with him [Genesis 17:5]. God changed ‘Jacob’ to ‘Israel’ because he had ‘overcome’ [Genesis 32:28]. Jesus changed ‘Simon’ to ‘Peter’ when he acknowledged him as the Christ [Matthew 16:18].

In Hosea 1:4-11 the ‘names’ by which God identified his reprobate and rebellious peoples – ‘not loved’ and ‘not my people’ are reversed. This reversal of names is applied to people of all nations who believe in Jesus Christ in 1Peter 2:10.

In Isaiah 62:2 God speaks of Israel being known by a ‘new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow’ and then in verse 4 says ‘No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called ‘Hephzibah’ (my delight is in her), and your land ‘Beulah’ (married)’.

In Isaiah 65:15 God speaks of giving his servants ‘another name’; this is in direct contrast to the fate of his enemies, which is death.

In Isaiah 56:5 God says:
‘… to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial
and a name better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.’

A new name means a new identity that is [1] grounded in a new and restored relationship with God, and [2] brought into reality by God himself. In the case of the ‘new name’ of Revelation 2:17, it is given by Jesus Christ, in and through whom God’s saving, renewing, restoring, justifying work was fully and permanently accomplished. It is ‘written’ on a white stone. If this ‘written’ is meant to parallel the stones on the High Priests garments, it is ‘engraved’ – it is not able to be erased. The new name, the new identity, the new relationship with God, endures forever.

Jesus gives an additional and extensive promise about ‘names’ in Revelation 3:12: ‘I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God, and I will also write on him my new name.’

These three names tell us:

This person belongs to God.
This person belongs to the city of God, the New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb.
This person belongs to Jesus, the Lamb; to Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

By belief in this name they are saved [John 1:12; 3:18; 20:31; 1John 5:13]. Because of allegiance to this name they are persecuted by the world and pressured by Satan [John 15:21]. But it is also by this name that those who believe in Jesus Christ are protected [John 17:11,12,15] from the world and from the evil one. And by this name they are sealed – safe and secure on the day when Christ comes to judge the earth [Revelation 7:3; 9:4]. By this name the utter security of those who truly believe in Jesus Christ is guaranteed.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2015