Choosing children’s names can be difficult. For each baby, Melanie and I considered a good meaning, a name that sounded appropriate for both a child and adult yet avoided silly abbreviations. We wanted to honour special people. Each name was chosen deliberately to reflect something we desired of our children.
In the Bible, names were not given randomly or because of how nice they sounded. Names gave identity. They expressed meaning. It was a foretelling. It reflected character.
Consider Jacob. As a twin (see Gen. 25:19-26), Jacob wrestled with his brother Esau in the womb. When he was born, Jacob was grasping onto the heel of his twin brother. He was named “Takes by the heel.” But you don’t want to be known as a heel-grabber. Heel-grabbers are cheats, deceivers, people who take down another from behind. This was Jacob – in his early years, he took his brother’s birthright through deception and supplanted his brother (Gen. 25:29-34).
One common name for God in the Old Testament is “The God of Jacob.” Have you ever stopped to consider that God is not ashamed to be called this name? Hebrews 11:16 says “God is not ashamed to be called their God…” He is proud to be associated with a conniving, sly, deceptive man who confessed his need for God! He not only takes on this man’s name, but he is pleased to be called “The God of the Deceiver.”
How could God to be pleased to be called this name? Why associate with someone of such questionable morality? Psalm 24:3-6 gives us some clues:
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who does not lift up his soul to what is false
And does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
Which one of us hasn’t deceived someone else? Who can come before The God of the Deceiver unashamed, standing confidently and acceptable to worship him? There is only One who ever came into God’s presence with perfectly clean hands and a pure heart. In the early Church, Psalm 24 was read on Ascension Day, recalling Jesus as the One who came into God’s presence, passing through the heavens (Heb. 4:14-15), having heaven’s gates opened so that this King of Glory may come in (Ps. 24:7-10). He is the righteous One who imputes to us his righteousness. This imputation means that we, the deceivers, can come to the God who hears our confession, forgives our sin, wipes our records clean, and identifies with us as “The God of Deceivers.” Is there any better reason to confess your wrong, purify your heart, lift up your head, and worship the King of Glory?
So let’s worship the God of Deceivers who takes our bad record, declares to be in right standing, and invites us into his presence with boldness to worship him (Heb. 4:16)!
See you Sunday,
As we gather for Sunday worship, we want you to meet with God and be transformed by the Word. Prepare your heart by reading the passage and listening to the songs for Sunday.