In my last post, Three People Given a New Name by God, we looked at God renaming people to give them a new identity.
Today we will consider the opposite: people whose names were changed in order to strip away their identity. I’m talking about a young man named Daniel and his three friends. These lads were forcibly relocated after their country was overthrown. They were removed from their families and all they knew in order to be indoctrinated into the king’s service.
In a final act of reprogramming, they were stripped of their Hebrew names and given new identities. This was not to encourage them or elevate the trajectory of their lives as God did with Abraham, Sarah, and Israel, but an attempt to remove every last bit of who they were, including their faith.
Daniel became Belteshazzar, Hananiah became Shadrach, Mishael became Meshach, and Azariah became Abednego.
We live in a world that continually gives us names, names to push us down, names to remove the identity God gave us or how he sees us. Though these may be in the form of nicknames, such as “Shorty,” “Gomer,” or “Blondie,” they are more often labels: loser, worthless, klutz, or stupid.
Daniel and his friends didn’t let others reprogram them from who God made them to be — and neither should we.
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