When I was growing up, me and my brother had a game which was to invent words to describe situations, feelings, circumstances that didn’t have a name. For example we had a word for that feeling you sometimes get late in the evening and you are thinking really clearly about all your priorities and life style. Coming up with names is fun and creative, it causes you to think outside the box.
In this passage, Adam is invited to name all the animals. God brings them to him and his job is to name them. What an honour, a privilege and a task. In this post I want to explore some of the implications of this process.
1) Adam is invited to work alongside God. We also see this at the beginning of the chapter where it talks about both man’s work and God’s watering being required in order for things to grow. It seems the God of Genesis 2, is not so much interested in accomplishing things, as He is co-working with man. This is why man names the creatures, but it is God who brings them to him in the first place. Co-working with God. We’ll explore this more in another post on work. But for now, let us be encouraged that God wants to work with us to accomplish His goals.
2) Adam can step into some of his God-like Capacity. In the last chapter of Genesis, God decides to make man in His image and likeness – thereby giving him God given capacities. It seems that one of the God-like capacities is naming things. In Genesis 1, God is seen naming things, naming light and calling it day, naming darkness and calling it night. He looks at the water and calls it sea, and dry ground and calls in land. In this chapter God is saying to Adam, “now it’s your turn” name these animals.
3) Adam is tapping into the authority God has given him. We explored in another post that God provides authority and it is our job to steward it. Here that authority is put into action. In this culture, to name something is to declare a sense of authority over it. In fact, one commentary said that in ancient Near Eastern culture to name something was to engage in “destiny decreeing”! To name something, is to know it.
This is pertinent for us as Christians, we should be careful about the words we use. There is power in words. May we speak faith, declare truth and use our words towards purposes of freedom, encouragement and life.
4) God has named Mankind, and He will name us again. In the very last book of the Bible, Jesus promises that to those who overcome He will give ‘a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it’ (Rev 2:17)
We are highly esteemed by God, He values our efforts, opinions and work. He listens to what we call animals and goes along with it. He wants to work with us. God trusts us and wants to work with us.