I know God has many names, but in Matthew 1:21 it says His name is Jesus and in verse 23 it says His name is Emmanuel. Can you please explain what this means?!
Matthew 1:21-23 (NASB)
She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”
You actually somewhat answered this question in the question. “I know God has many names.” The best thing to do is to understand why.
One thing I learned early on about God and scripture, is that word usage seemed important to God, especially in the realm of names. Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, and when it comes to God, well let’s just say there’s a whole bunch. The reason isn’t really that hard to understand.
Words are incredibly important to God. Jesus is called the Word and the Bible is called the Word. When God created He used words. The scriptures declare some interesting things. Matthew 12:37 (NASB) says, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Proverbs 18:21 (NASB) says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Romans 10:17 (NASB) says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” These are just a few of many scriptures, but we can easily see that words are important to God.
When He describes Himself, God uses many different names. Jehovah-Shalom (God of peace), Jehovah-Rapha (God who heals), El Shaddai (God almighty), again just to show a few. What’s interesting, is whatever God is called, it’s always a description. It describes aspects of His character and this I assure you is quite purposeful.
Hebrews 11:6 (NASB) tells us, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” This is an incredibly important and often misunderstood verse. This is not just saying that we believe God exists. The Bible declares that this is a given and a fool doesn’t believe! This is saying, if you come to God (if you want what you are after) you must believe IN who He is not just that He is. Coming to God in faith means you understand first that you have place your come but also that He desires to answer when you do because you come trusting and knowing His will. His names are a reminder to us of His will because they are descriptive.
Jesus was His given name, Immanuel was descriptive. At different times He was referred to as different things. He was referred to as Rabbi (teacher), Master, Lord, Friend, among many other things. Jesus called Himself something God called Himself, I Am. This is really what we see reflected in Hebrews 11:6. The whole purpose in all of this is for humanity to understand. What’s interesting is even satan has different names in scripture and though this may surprise you, each is descriptive!
People also sometimes get hung up on the idea of praying in Jesus name. God was not putting the emphasis on saying the exact words but coming with understanding and purpose. The understanding of praying in Jesus name is to understand the authority in the person of Him. To these cultures the name did this very thing. They gave purpose in their petition.
I may go on a limb here and I’ll say this from my own opinion, but I believe when you consider that ancient people had many God’s depending on their desires or needs, God took the time to show that He was everything humans needed. The Greeks had one God for this and another for something else. Our God, the God of the Bible revealed in three persons but still One, is truly our All in All.
The purpose of all God’s names are a reminder to us of who we are dealing with. He isn’t a God just once in a while, but He is our everything. God wants us to understand Him and His desire for humanity because this is really what relationship is all about. God’s desire has always been that His creation would know Him. Past, present, and future our God truly is! What an awesome God we serve!