What an Unusual Name for a Child

His name was Maranatha. He was a little towheaded boy in my cabin at New England Keswick Bible Conference and Camp during the summer of 1970, and I was his camp counselor. He was a funny little guy. I’ll never forget the night he fell out of his bunk bed onto the hardwood floor landing with such a thud that it sounded as if a bowling ball had been dropped through the roof. No bones were broken, and he didn’t even have a bump on his head, but it really gave us all a scare. Needless to say, we made him sleep in a lower bunk from then on. But I remember thinking, “Maranatha” what an unusual name for a boy.

Maranatha is an Aramaic expression which occurs but once in the Bible, specifically in Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians [1 Corinthians 16:22] meaning, “Our Lord, come!” In the early church, when Christians were persecuted for the faith and didn’t know who could be trusted, marantha was used commonly by believers as a watchword [a password]. It expressed what early believers of the first century longed for, the personal and visible return of the risen Christ to rule and reign over the earth as both Lord and King.

Old and New Testaments alike speak of the coming of one called “the Son of Man,” “the Son of David,” “the Messiah” or the “Anointed One,” that is to say “the Christ” to reign over the world. The New Testament records a first coming as a matter of history, and anticipates a second coming yet future. What the Old Testament saints didn’t comprehend nor even the prophets who wrote of it, was that the Messiah they anticipated would need to come twice in order to fulfill two very different and distinct lines of prophecy spoken of him. It was as if there were two missions to be fulfilled. The missions were related, and the latter would be based on the former, but two separate and distinct advents were essential nevertheless.

One line of prophecy spoken of by Isaiah, Daniel and Zechariah, concerned a suffering servant or Messiah whom Israel would reject, a Messiah who would be afflicted for the sins of the nation, a Messiah who would be cut off. Isaiah spoke of him in these words:

“Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, the punishment which brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away and who can speak of his descendants, for he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.” Isaiah 53:4-8 NIV84

But then the prophets also spoke of a very different coming, in which the Son of Man would come in glory to judge the nations and establish His kingdom over the earth.

“I was watching [Daniel writes] in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14 NKJV

Is this Messiah who comes once to suffer and the Messiah who comes a second time to reign as king really one and the same Messiah? Listen to the words of the prophet Zechariah.

“In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them. It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” Zechariah 12:8-10 NKJV

The New Testament identifies Jesus of Nazareth, as that Christ, the Messiah, who alone fulfills both the mission of the suffering servant, and will come again a second time, to fulfill the prophecies of a reigning Messiah, who will judge the nations and rule in righteousness and peace over an everlasting kingdom. Jesus himself understood that.

You will recall the words of Jesus on the night he was betrayed and forced to endure the mockery of a trial before the Sanhedrin.
“Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God,”  he was asked.

“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you. In the future you will see the Son of Man [simply another designation for the Messiah] sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 26:63b-64 NIV

At that, he was charged and dispatched ultimately to Pilate, who ordered him crucified. But then on the third day following his death, Jesus rose bodily from the dead, later to ascend in a cloud into heaven, where he is presently seated at the right hand of the Father. But we are reminded that he will return just as he left, first for the church (1 Thessalonians 4:161-18), and then to judge the nations (Matthew 25:31-48). Maranatha!

“For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:27
“’Surely I am coming quickly’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! ” Revelation 22:20b NKJV

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hiddenarrows

Ed presently serves as the Lead Pastor of Leesburg Alliance Church, Leesburg, FL. He has had over 30 years of ministry experience, sixteen of them at Greenwoods Community Church in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. More recently he has fulfilled transitional interim assignments for the Alliance Southeast of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Englewood and Spring Hill, Florida. In addition, Ed has had nearly 13 years of experience in the field of geriatric healthcare. His wife, Lynn, is a true partner in ministry, having served Greenwoods Community Church as its Children's Ministry Coordinator for over ten years. She is a decorator, colorist, instructor in furniture painting, and an artist in her own right. For over 20 years she had her own business, Whimsical Brushes, teaching and traveling throughout the Northeast. Ed’s passion and heartfelt prayer remains for genuine revival and awakening in our nation. One of the keys to past workings of God especially in New England has been related to pastors mentoring pastors. God has given Ed a burden to be a mentor pastor, developing leaders for the church in the 21st Century. One way in which he is fulfilling that calling is through Rockbridge Seminary, where he serves as an adjunct professor of Spiritual Formation. Ed has earned degrees from Cairn University (B.S. 1971), Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M. 1979), and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min. 2007). He has published several articles on the Spiritual Heritage of Litchfield County, Connecticut, and led several tours of sites associated with the Village Revivals that spawned the Second Great Awakening in New England. In his spare time, you are likely to find Ed at the piano or pecking out a blog on his blog page https://hiddenarrows.blog

2 thoughts on “What an Unusual Name for a Child”

  1. Names are powerful and packed full of meaning. Many years ago you allowed me the opportunity to speak at Greenwoods Community Church in Ashley Falls. I shared this vignette about names.
    Nehemiah 3.25 says “Palal the son of Uzai, over against the turning [of the wall], and the tower which lieth out from the king’s high house, that [was] by the court of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh.” (KJV, 1998)
    At first blush, this verse is not what could be called a John 3:16. No high-profile athlete is painting this verse on a piece of athletic gear to drive curious sports fans to their Bibles. No eager fan is holding up a placard hoping a television camera catches a glimpse of Neh. 3.25 during an extra point conversion attempt at a nationally televised professional football game. Perhaps in the drudgery of a through the entire Bible reading effort, you pretended to scan this jewel in the rough. Palal the son of Uzai, Pedaiah the son of Parosh, I can hear the casual Bible reader sputtering why cannot these guys have normal names like John, Juan, Jean or Giovanni.
    Well, Pedaiah is a great name. It says something about what this family thought about their God. Pedaiah means “Jehovah has ransomed.” (Strong) God has ransomed each one of us for a price. As Christians, we know the ransom paid by God the Father. God the Father provided the life of his Son as a ransom for The Church. It is the old redemption story, Victory in Jesus.
    But whose son was Pedaiah the son of Parosh. The name Parosh means flea, Jehovah has ransomed the son of Flea, a blood-sucking parasite. So if God ransomed the son of a flea to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he certainly can use every man, women and child called according to His purpose to rebuild the walls of their lives even though they may feel like their address remains on the butt end of the family dog. Remember, Jerusalem’s walls even had a dung gate where all the city’s excrement was taken, and someone rebuilt the sewage treatment gate.

    Liked by 1 person

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