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What's In A Name?

by Bob Yarbrough

Months before we moved to the farm, my Dad started making a variety of preparations for the big “relocation.”  We had asked him to live with us when we moved.  Mother had passed away five years previously and he no longer wanted to live by himself.  So, he began doing “stuff” in order to get ready.  Already, he was beginning to think in terms of a work shop, outside equipment, tools to take, and most importantly to him – a front gate to the property.   He had envisioned an entrance structure of two tall metal poles on either side of the drive, and a pipe across the top with the name YARBROUGH attached to the underside of the cross pipe.  One day I found him in his old garage (one side of which he had converted into his workshop) making a rather elaborate rectangular metal nameplate.  He had found some eight inch metal letters which spelled our name.  The project framed was about ten inches high by six feet long that he had fashioned in such a way as to attach one day to the cross pipe.  That day finally came. During the final construction process, we employed a welder to help us build our front gate incorporating Dad’s idea for the entrance.   He had made it strong and attractive for all to see.  Sadly for us, Dad was not present to see the finished project, for the Lord had called him home a few weeks earlier.  We have a picture of him, which we treasure, standing beside the two side poles in anticipation of the nameplate being attached.  His true nameplate, however, now is mounted in heaven along with all those who have passed away into the loving arms of Jesus.  Today, when we direct people to our home, we use the nameplate as a reference point.  It serves as a beacon to tell people they have arrived at our place.  I am convinced that our front gate with the YARBROUGH nameplate adds character and attractiveness to our entrance.

Often I look at that nameplate and a host of happy memories flood my mind.  I think of its importance to my Dad and then to me.  But in addition to memories, it has several applications that transcend the literal appearance of the nameplate, and that brings me to this lesson from the farm.  As a young boy I can remember that my Dad often said to me, “Son, remember that you are a Yarbrough!”  I thought I knew what he was talking about, but he always followed it up with a speech about character, about never letting him down, and about remembering that even out of his sight I was his son, so I should never bring reproach upon the family name. Dad understood that it was only a coward’s way out to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”   I knew that I was to represent him in my character.  It was a great speech with a great purpose, but I will confess that I did not fully understand it to the degree I should have until I found myself giving that same speech to my own children.  “You are a Yarbrough,” I would say.  Many dads have used similar language and analogy.  I have since given that speech to my own grandchildren because they are Yarbroughs too.   My Dad wanted the Yarbrough name to stand for all that was right, and good, and honorable.  The Apostle Paul said, “Whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable –if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice” (Phil. 4:8-9).

In scripture, names have significance.  In fact, most names in the Bible had meanings, (ie. Esau means hairy, Jonah means dove).  A good study sometime would be to look up Bible names and their meanings to see how God used these individuals to fulfill His purposes.  Often God told parents what to name their children because the name represented some aspect of character or ministry.  An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “She (Mary) will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name JESUS, because he will save his people from their sins…they will call him Immanuel which means ‘God with us’” (Matt. 1:21-23).  Sometimes God changed the name as in Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, and Saul to Paul.  Each time the intent was to enhance the character and function of the person.  There were times when names were given to represent God’s judgment or condemnation, ie. the children of the prophet Hosea (Hos. 1:4, Hos. 1:6, Hos. 1:8).  Patronymic naming was common (Simon Bar.Jona is Simon, son of Jona), as was geographical identities (Saul of Tarsus, Joseph of Arimathea).  One of the most remarkable name changes will be when God deals with Israel in the millennial kingdom.  Israel will then be called Hephzibah and her land will be called Beulah (Isa. 62:4).  Names represent important things to God.  In fact, God is called by many different names in scripture; ie. Elohim, Jehovah, Adonai, El Shaddai, etc.  When Moses asked God, “Suppose I go to Israel and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, What is his name?  Then what shall I tell them?  God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM.  This is what you are to say to Israel. I AM has sent me to you.” (Ex 3:13-14).  In speaking to the Pharisees this was the identification that Jesus gave of himself:  “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I AM” (Jn. 8:58).  He is the great I AM throughout the entire Gospel of John (John. 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:7; John 10:11; John 11:25; John 14:6; John 15:1)

Today we live in an age of multi-culturalism with its scores of accompanying religions – each one touting its benefits.  However, concerning the name of Jesus, the Bible says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), and “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13).  When a believer is baptized, he is baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; Acts 19:5).   Believers are to serve in the name of Jesus (Col. 3:17).  His name is superior to all others (Heb.1:4).  God “gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).  Since this has not yet become a reality, it remains to be fulfilled.  That time is coming and is foretold by the Apostle John in Revelation 19.  In this chapter Jesus is seen coming back to earth.  He has a name written on him which only he knows (19:12), his name is the Word of God (Rev. 19:13), and on his robe is written the name:  King of King and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16).  Then all will bow and confess the name of Jesus.  For some it will be too late, however.  That is why the Bible says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 3:17).  Jesus said, “You must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect” (Matt. 24:44).

The name Yarbrough is a good name.  I’m pleased to see it on our entrance gate, and that others can see that a Yarbrough lives at this address.  I am proud of my name and will gladly wear it as long as I live.  But there is a new name that has been given me by God himself (Rev. 3:12; 21:27) because I know Jesus as my Savior.  My name was somehow recorded before the foundations of the earth (Rev 13:8; 17:8) in the Lamb’s Book of Life in heaven (Heb. 12:23) and it will never be erased or blotted out (Rev. 3:5).  Admittedly, there is much we do not know about these heavenly records, so we humbly “bow the knee” (to coin a phrase from Kay Arthur), but it is vitally clear that one’s name be recorded there (Mal. 3:16-17).  It is my understanding that the Book of Life will be in evidence at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-15) to confirm and justify that those whose names are recorded therein will not be judged and condemned with all who stand there at that time.  Jesus was judged for me on the cross, and “I have been crucified with him…” (Gal. 2:20).  I am glad I will not be there, because my name is recorded in the Book of Life.  And I pray that a lot of Yarbroughs’ names will be recorded also.

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