This Week's Story

How did you receive your name?

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Zechariah: What’s in a name? part four

I felt our little one swimming and kicking inside of me. For weeks, I tried unfamiliar sounds hoping to find a name for little one. I listened to names. Some were flat, others hinted music. What did they mean? And then there it was—Alyce! It was music and meant noble humor or of noble character.

Our swimmer needed a middle name. What about a family name? My husband’s grandmother and mine were named Lena, but there was a problem. Alyce and Lena did not flow together. I went into labor and still we had no middle name. Then unexpectedly and easily my husband suggested, “Let’s put an A before Lena.” We said it aloud, “Alyce Alena.” Those lovely sounds became our daughter’s name.

That happened in Ferndale, Washington in the 1980’s. About 2,000 years ago in a town outside of Jerusalem another little one received a name. His was a birth filled with unusual supernatural signs. His parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were elderly. An angel appeared to the father and told him that he and his wife were to have a baby to be named John. God had given him a special mission.

When the baby was eight days old, he would be circumcised and named. Circumcision was a physical act. It represented purity of heart and God’s covenant with the Jewish nation. The name he received was to reveal his character and background.

The day of the ceremony everyone attending was excited and very curious! Zechariah still could not talk, because he had not believed the angel. He and his wife knew what the baby’s name was. No one else present did.

“Name the boy after his father,” they urged.

“No!” Elizabeth declared emphatically. “He must be called John.”

“But none of your relatives are named John. What name does Zechariah want for him?”

They made signs so Zechariah could answer the question. On a writing tablet he wrote, “His name is John.”

Surprise lighted every face. The name meant God is gracious. Immediately Zechariah began to speak. For more than nine months no words had passed his lips. Now he knew that the angel Gabriel was right. God had allowed Zechariah and Elizabeth to have a child. It was His plan. Zechariah began praising God and gave prophecy for the future.

“Praise the God of Israel. He is raising a deliverer from our enemies. He will bring freedom and grant us the right to worship Him without fear. For generations, His prophets have promised deliverance. God remembers His promises to our forefather Abraham. My child, will be the Prophet of the Highest and the Lord’s forerunner.”

The neighbors and relatives were astonished. For days and months, they talked about the events they had seen and heard but did not understand. What would this baby become and do? How would he prepare people for the Lord? Throughout the hill country of Judea, the news spread.

Years passed. John’s body and spirit became strong. As a young man, he lived in the desert until it was time to show himself publicly to Israel and begin his mission.

This is Barbara Steiner presenting the baby who became John the Baptist.

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