“Hi I am John but my Hebrew name is Yochanan. Just like the Apostle John or John the Baptist. ” His face beamed with pride at the association.
I told him my name (only the first). He quickly gave me the Hebrew version and the meaning. I smiled in acknowledgement and thanked him. I loved his fervour. It was infectious. We were decades apart in age and maybe in dimness of view.
I sensed a deep love for the people of God. The light in his eyes told me that he loved the lessons gleaned from their lives. I felt a bit of sadness inside though. I felt lead to ask him: ” What has Yahweh said about you? What is your purpose, your destiny? What makes you unique?”
I was about to ask the question when I remembered my reason for passing that way. I quickly bid him goodbye. Nature called and I obediently answered.
While I was in the restroom, I reflected on the brief conversation. He was not the first person who told me his Hebrew name and association to a person of God. Brief conversations with others made me realise that they had considered changing their name to associate with one of God’s chosen people from the Torah. There was nothing new about it. I had encountered similar things at other places of worship, I visited. I have always encountered people who were trying to become a copy of someone they admired.
“Was there duplication in the Bible, with the people who were called?” I pondered.
I remembered what God said to Joshua: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Jos 1:5). Joshua was similarly anointed with wisdom, the working of miracles, leadership skills and strategies as Moses. He had other qualities that Moses struggled with. He was audacious. A man of tremendous faith. And a skilled warrior. He received Moses’ mantle but he was not Moses. Similar in calling but not the same.
There are also many other people God used whose lives were chronicled in the Bible. Numerous prophets, judges, priests and other persons were used by God over many centuries to accomplish very different tasks. Despite similarities, there was one consistency. They were originals.
Each person was used for a specific purpose by God. Very few had someone continuing the ministry they started. We have Joshua continuing the legacy of Moses. Elisha continued Elijah’s work. Solomon also completed the work of his father David. Yet their ministries were marked by very specific accomplishments that were entirely attributable to them.
God gifted them with unique talents and spiritual gifts to ensure that they were equipped for their tasks. Noah was gifted with tremendous courage and perseverance to prophecy for over 100 years about impending danger. He preached to the people of the ancient world by performing a great sign in their midst. He built an ark. Something they had never seen before because it had never rained on the land (Genesis 6:8,13-22; 2 Peter 2:5). This was a phenomenon. Abraham was taught patience and faith. God called him to follow him on a journey that he had nothing to help him. His only reference was the rhema Word of God (Genesis 12:1). Faith in the Word of God and a close relationship with the God of Israel (Yahweh) were is only keys for success.
Others who were also gifted includes Samson, who had supernatural strength. Esther had grace, favor and obedience. Daniel was given wisdom, human languages and the interpretation of dreams and visions. These are but a few of the people that the records showed that God used mightily and in a unique way.
When we trace our recent history there are persons who God called and anointed for their service to mankind. Mother Teresa was called to feed and care for the poor in India. Martin Luther King, Jr to challenge racial prejudices in a peaceful manner. Martin Luther to stand up to the religious rulers and advocate for the scripture to be used as the basis for validating religious practises, of the time. Sola Scriptura (Latin “by Scripture alone”) was one of the main theological beliefs he pioneered. Katherine Khulman taught people about fellowship with the Holy Spirit. God bore witness to her work with healings and miracles. There are a plethora of others – Smith Wigglesworth, William Seymour, just to name a few.
Today, there is much talk, among some members of the body of Christ, about people receiving the mantle of someone that the Lord uses mightily. It has become the norm to expect the inheritors to operate in the same manner as their spiritual parent. I have heard someone even speak in the same spiritual tongues as their leader. Something that I can say, based on experience, is a sign that you have received the anointing that is on someone. However, it struck me that this was the only tongues the deputy spoke. It made me uneasy.
God is a God of originals. What makes you unique? Have you spent time at His feet to learn what makes you stand out from the crowd?
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.