For Christians, name means security, eternity

Judy Brandon: Religion columnist

On the day I am writing this column I also heard that a tropical depression is forming in the Gulf of Mexico. If its winds get to a certain point, this will turn to a hurricane and the hurricane’s name will be Alex.

Alex is the first of the season. As more hurricanes form and as our country braces for their fury in on the southern and eastern coasts, the names given those hurricanes will follow the alphabet letters. We just hope that there are not enough hurricanes to go straight through to the letter “Z.”

What’s in a name? For example, the National Weather Service will identify by name a hurricane in the making, predict its direction and classify its force. Back in September 1996, Hurricane Fran hit the East Coast and left $1 billion worth of damage. In 2005, New Orleans was devastated even worse by Katrina, a terrible hurricane.

I don’t think a hurricane has ever been named Judas. I learned this name early on because of our jaunt everyday from Kansas City, Kan., to Kansas City, Mo. The highway was a viaduct that spanned the stockyards, and as we crossed it, I could look overhead and see the enclosed livestock bridges that stretched above and across the highway.

On many trips, Judas, the old ram, was a common sight. He led the rest of the animals to slaughter. We could look up and see Judas leading a line of animals to a sure death to the slaughterhouse on the other side.

I doubt if the National Weather Service would name a hurricane Nero. Tradition says this guy played the violin while Rome burned.

Nero put to death many Christians and anyone else he took a mind to kill.

An uncle owned an old dog he kept in the barnyard, chained up, named Nero. Anytime anyone would come around, Nero would growl, show his teeth with fierce anger and lunge at visitors because he was always in the attack mode. I was terrified of that dog and vowed that if I ever got a dog, I would choose a nice name like Fluffy.

Is there a spiritual perspective to this name concept? The Bible talks about a “new name,” no matter what our old name.

In Biblical times, names were important. Jacob means “trickster” — he tricked his brother. Jacob humbled himself before God and became Israel. Saul became Paul after his conversion.

The ancient concept of immortality was based upon the continuation of one’s name.

In ancient Egypt, people believed the soul could be eradicated with the disappearance of one’s name. Thus a pharaoh would have his name inscribed upon monuments.

If his successor did not like him, the successor would have the names chiseled off. It was believed that if all the names of a dead person could be eradicated, his soul would be destroyed in eternity.

In New Testament days, the courts observed a certain custom. When a person had been accused of crime, and that person was tried and acquitted, he was given a certain white stone as a symbol of release. This was proof to any official that the person was cleared of the old charge.

For the Christian, the promise is in Revelation:

“To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17)

What’s in a name? For the believer, it is absolute security and a name for eternity.

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at:

cbrandon@plateautel.net