A New Name

Whitney Capps

Day: 35 | Plan: Genesis

Today's Reading: Genesis 35

Genesis 35:10 (NIV) "God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.’ So he named him Israel.”

In Genesis 35 Jacobs begins a new chapter just as his father Isaac’s chapter is coming to a close. 

In the early verses of chapter 35, God commands Jacob to go to Bethel and build an altar to the Lord. Before going, however, Jacob rids his household of all foreign gods and purifies his family in preparation. After the incident with Dinah, Jacob is probably all the more passionate about modeling and leading his family in holy living.

It is at Bethel where God formally initiates a new season of Jacob’s life; God changes Jacob’s name to Israel. (You may recall that Jacob had his name changed in Genesis 32.) Here in what we might consider a formal name change and ceremony, God confirms that Jacob now has a new name, a new identity and a new purpose.

Jacob’s new name served as an ever-present reminder that he would lead his family into the future of God’s promise. But Jacob’s new name was evidence not just of a future promise but also of a present reality. Something had changed. God had made Abraham and Isaac’s promises to Jacob personally. And now those promises weren’t just to a small family, but a growing tribe.

It’s also in this passage that we learn of the death of Rachel (Jacob’s wife) during the birth of her second son, Benjamin. With the birth of Benjamin we now have a full picture of Jacob’s line–the sons who would later become the 12 tribes of Israel.

Israel will lead the family forward toward God’s promised land. His new name is his new identity. What lies in Jacob’s past isn’t nearly as important as what is promised in Israel’s future. It’s true for you, too. When we allow God to define our identity, what happened in our past isn’t nearly as important as what’s promised in our future.

Prayer: Father God, it is so easy to only remember what’s defined me in the past—hurt, hopeless, broken, alone. Would you whisper to me that in Christ I am redeemed, chosen, healed and loved? Help me live a new story, one that shows how truthful and faithful You are to Your children. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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More Moments:

Here in chapter 35 we also read of the death of Isaac. His death is punctuated with this sweet... Read More

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