What’s in a Name?


Century after century, parents of royal and common descent alike have handed down family names to their children. I once taught a student who was seventh in his family line to have the first name Bruno. Then, there are some parents who avoid family names altogether. They want their children to have identities all their own. Why are names so important? Why do we put so much time, effort, and tradition into the naming of a human being? It’s because—for better or for worse—your name is what initially identifies you to the world.

  • When someone hears your name, what things do you hope come to their mind?


“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ 7 By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. 9 And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.


(Today’s questions cover verses 11-14.)

  1. Previously, we read in verses 6-10 that God wants us to offer our best to him. Verse 11 tells us why he demands that. What two-word phrase is repeated three times in this one verse? Where does that two-word phrase repeat itself earlier in the passage, and in what context?
  2. In what ways did the quality of the sacrifices the priests offered reflect God’s name? With what attitude did they make the required sacrifices (vss. 12-14)?
  3. What does God say about himself and the reverence due to him (vss. 11, 14)? How does the attitude with which you serve and worship the Lord reflect his name and reputation?
  4. Be honest. Does the quality or the effort you put into your relationship with God reflect that you value and respect his name, or does it reflect that you see God’s name as less important than the name of your family, your work, and your other interests?


God wants us to bring him our best, but it’s not because he wants to deprive us. It’s because the goal of our lives should be to make his name great in all that we pursue each day. You see, when we bring God our leftovers, what those around us are left to assume is that our God is not worthy of our full devotion. When we serve the Lord, but grumble about how much time or money it requires, what those around us must assume is that our God is not worthy of the effort. His name and his reputation are affected by what we bring. We bring our best to our relationship with the Lord to proclaim to those around us that our God is worthy.  

  • Ask God to show you if there are places in your life that tarnish his name.
  • Pray that you would pursue a life that makes God’s name great, so that people will be drawn to him.