OT19 | Eden to Exile

NT Connect: Matthew 1:18-25

Weekly Reading: Deuteronomy 34; Joshua 1-4

What’s in a Name?

When I hear the name Moses, I immediately am transported back to my elementary days in Children’s Church singing at the top of my lungs, “Pharaoh, Let my People Go!” And when I hear the name Joshua, I remember singing about how “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down.” There is power in names. Their names recall so much rich history of how God was present with his people and led his people, the Israelites, from slavery into the Promised Land.

At the end of Deuteronomy, God told Moses that Moses would soon die, never setting foot in the Promised Land because of his disobedience. Moses went up to a mountain where he could see the land that God had promised to give to the descendants of Abraham. There, Moses died. After the Israelites had mourned Moses’ death, a new generation looked to Joshua to lead them into the Promised Land.

Joshua’s name means, “The Lord saves.” God had chosen him to lead his people, but it was God, not Joshua, who would save them. Their redemption had to be the work of God himself. The Israelites could do nothing apart from God. He was with them, and he was going to fight for them.

It is not by chance, then, that at the birth of Christ, God names him, “Jesus.” Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua. The angel is clear about why this is the right name: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus is a new and better Joshua. Jesus is our perfect leader. He died and was raised so that Moses, Joshua, and every believer in all of time can enter the promised land of God’s kingdom.

In these New Testament passages where we read about the angel coming to Joseph and Mary to name the long anticipated Messiah, “Jesus,” “Immanuel,” “God with us,” it is a powerful display of God’s hand in fulfilling his promises – a promise of God being with us, and a promise of a Savior.

There is power in the name of Jesus. In the Old Testament, God fiercely pursued his people, even when his people turned their backs on him. In the New Testament, Jesus displays God’s continued pursuit of his people. Jesus is God incarnate. Jesus heals people. Jesus saves us from our sins. The cross is our reminder of what Jesus has done for us: a miraculous saving we could never do for ourselves.

Let us remember the power of God in Jesus: we can do nothing apart from him. He is for us! Let us worship the Son of God, who descended to be born like us. Let us humbly adore him, zealously pursue him, and boldly tell others about the King of all Kings – JESUS. . . there’s just something about that name!

Christa Gaudinier