June 23, 2014 - A Boy Named Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz
By Scott Harrup
"A Boy Named Sue," Johnny Cash's 1969 hit, tells in hard-knuckle detail the story of a son given the unlikely name. His dad burdened the boy with the moniker in order to toughen him, and it worked. When the son finally meets up with his father in a barroom brawl, the dad has this to say:
"Son, this world is rough
Shel Silverstein wrote the song, almost certainly without the prophet Isaiah in mind. But if ever a son had to face a hostile world with a strange name, it was Isaiah's boy.
God told the prophet to name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:1-3) — roughly translated "quick to plunder, swift to the spoil." The name called attention to impending conquest and ruin at the hands of the Assyrians. Not a popular concept. Little "Maher" grew up with the equivalent of an eighth-century B.C. "kick me" sign on his back.
He wasn't alone. His older brother was Shear-Jashub, "a remnant will return."
Desolation was on the way, and all but a few folks would be wiped out or exiled. Imagine the fun those Isaiah boys had on the playground.
But one detail of this story must remain in focus — Isaiah acted in complete obedience to God. The names of Isaiah's sons were integral to God's plans for His chosen people. The brothers played tiny but key roles in a much bigger picture.
Today names rarely carry more significance than the memory of a favorite relative. But our children are destined to play key roles in God's big picture — if we will give them the foundation they need. Whether they go through life as "Bob," "Kent," or "Sue" (only daughters here, please), they should all be known as "followers of Christ."
That identity will earn them some licks in an ungodly world. But dads who follow Isaiah's example and help their sons and daughters become spiritually resilient can count on God to accomplish great things in their children's lives.
— Scott Harrup is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (sharrup.agblogger.org).
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