Well... I am through my first week of study of the book of Daniel. There is so much packed into just a few verses that I could share... I would be typing for days. So, with that said - what is speaking to me today to share with you... Day 4 of Week 1 Was titled Renaming and Resisting.
The scripture treasure for that day was:
The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. ~ Daniel 1:7
The name Daniel means: "God is my judge" Hananiah means: "Yah has been gracious" Mishael means, "Who is what God is?" and Azariah means: "Yah has helped" Aren't the meanings of each of their names beautiful... connected to God.
My given name is Kristen Ann. I looked up my name on babynames.com (I know, not very scholarly) The meaning of the name Kristen is Christian - The origin of the name Kristen is German. The meaning of the name Ann is Gracious, Merciful - The origin of the name Ann is Hebrew. I was delighted to see such a God connection with my name! Christian, Merciful, Gracious... I am a Christian and oh how I desire to be merciful and gracious like my LORD.
As we read in Daniel 1:7 - our 4 friends were given new Babylonian names... Belteshazzar (Bel will protect), Shadrach (inspired of Aku), Meshach (belonging to Aku) & Abednego (servant of Nego). We learned that assigning new names was a common practice in the ancient world.
The intention was to change the entire identity of the person until their life matched the title. The new name was meant to hail a new destiny. We were asked to meditate on the differences of their Hebrew names as opposed to their Babylonian names... I ask you to do the same. How did King Nebuchadnezzar intend to shape their desitinies by changing their names? How do you think they felt - being given a name that was connected to pagan gods of the ancient world. As I meditated...Looking at the names assigned to them and their meanings - I saw an intent to take the identity they had, change where they came from and distance them from God. Giving them new names with connection to pagan gods - the gods Nebuchadnezzar worshipped. He wanted those boys for himself. Separate them from their history, lose their identity and have it shaped by a pagan society rather than a Godly society.
(Please also note that when a name change is ordained by God that name changing can be a good thing - God Himself changed names of many of His chosen - Abram became Abraham, Saul became Paul.)
As I continued to meditate on how changing their names might make them feel I thought back to the time when my name changed. September 22, 1990 - when I went from Kristen Ann Dietel to Kristen Ann Schwark. I remembered sitting on an airplane the day after my wedding, gazing out the window wondering "who am I now? The name I had for 25 years was now different" For some odd reason I felt different. I couldn't explain how I felt, and in a way as I look back I do believe I mourned the "loss" of my birth name. I thought about that today and how differently I see it now. I had to chuckle at that young girl who mourned the loss of her maiden name. I am blessed that my name was changed on and alter, in front of God, friends and family.
My name change was in God's plan - and what I have learned as I know will be more and more evident as I continue my study of Daniel is what was contained in the last sentence of Day 4's study... "the world can call us what it wants, but it cannot change who we are." Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego's names might have been changed... but that didn't change who they were and what God called them to do. My last name might have changed, but it didn't change who I was... who God says I am! I am His!
5 years ago