As I wrote in my last article, our first child was born to us on 21 June 2009, Father’s Day in both America and the UK (I’m from the US and my wife is from England).
His name: Caleb Benjamin Lencke.
It’s always interesting to hear how the naming of a child comes about. Some name their children with names that have been in the family for generations. Others name their children with a more unique and original sounding name, which can become fascinating. And, of course, there are a plethora of other reasons. None are invalid, but just a variety of ways we come to name our children.
I wanted to share how we came to the name our son Caleb Benjamin.
It was quite ironic that Cat and I always had a girl’s name in mind when it came to children. For some reason it was just a little easier. But with a boy’s name, it was much more difficult. It took us a few months to really come to a conclusion. I had prayed a few times that, if God had a specific name for our son, He would make that name known. Not to overspiritualise everything, but I simply desired to hear the heart of God for our son. The reason for this?
Well, in Biblical times, the naming of someone was quite important. One didn’t simply choose a name for the sake of choosing a name. There was a sort of prophetic significance being proclaimed as the child was donned with the particular name. We see this in the naming of Eve (Genesis 3:20), Cain (Genesis 4:1), Noah (Genesis 5:28-29), the renaming of Abraham (Genesis 17:5), and so forth and so on through Scripture.
Naming someone was important, because, as I said, it was a prophetic statement over the life of that person. The greatest example would probably be Jesus (or Yeshua in Hebrew). The name simply means, ‘Yahweh saves.’ And that is what Christ came to do – usher in the saving and redeeming kingdom rule of God amongst humanity so that they may be reconciled back to the Father. Hence, we refer to Jesus as Saviour.
In regards to the first name of our son, most would be aware that Caleb was somewhat of a significant figure in the Old Testament times. He did not reach the recognition of a Noah, Abraham or Moses, but he had a unique role amongst God’s people after their miraculous exodus from Egypt.
We are first introduced to Caleb in Numbers 13 and 14. Numbers is not the most prolific of texts in the Bible, meaning we would rather read the Gospels, or Psalms, or Romans, etc. But I think the overall message of Numbers is a very relevant statement for the church today. But that is for another article sometime down the line.
But while Caleb was introduced in Numbers, my main recollection was of what happened near the end of his life mid-way through the book of Joshua. I had remembered Caleb as a strong man all the way to the end of his life. Matter of fact, he and Joshua were the only two from the older generation that had come out of Egypt who were allowed to enter the Promised Land of Canaan (see Numbers 14:30). Everyone else had died out in their 40-year wanderings in the wilderness, a judgment from God for their continual hard-hearted disbelief and complaining.
So being one of only two from the original group that was able to receive the promises of God, I had remembered him as a strong and faithful man even to end of his days. And this is confirmed in Joshua 14:6-15. Specifically, I was re-reading the story this morning and found these words quite encouraging:
10 And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. (Joshua 14:10-11)
And it was that last part of vs11 that had stayed with me: ‘my strength now is as my strength was then.’ Here was an 85-year old man still going strong in God, a man still persevering to the end. That is what I had remembered most about Caleb. And, therefore, in naming our son Caleb, I was making a declaration over his life that he would be one that would persevere and stay strong in God even to the end, all by the grace and strength of the intimate and Almighty One.
But recently, I have been reading through the book of Numbers, which is, as I said, where we are actually introduced to Caleb. In Numbers 13, we read that the LORD had commanded Moses to send twelve spies into the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, to survey the land in preparation for entering it. After this 40-day excursion, the twelve spies returned to give a report to the people of Israel. Ten of the spies confirmed it was a really good land (flowing with milk and honey), but this was overshadowed by their report that there were some serious obstacles in regards to the people who presently occupied the land. Thus, they were gripped with fear and they were unable to believe that they could successfully take what God had promised to them. (I sense another article/sermon here, but on we go…)
After the negative response of the ten of these spies, we read these subsequent words about Caleb:
But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)
When I read those words of Caleb, my heart lept with joy. I was holding my son, who was in a deep sleep, while I was reading this passage. First of all, Caleb quieted the people. This brought to mind a man of grace and wisdom, seeing he was able to quiet a very large group of people. But, even more, I prayed over him that he would be one that would always know that, in God, ‘we are well able to overcome it.’
This simple phrase also brings to mind the well-known passage of the New Testament:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
Therefore, I was declaring these words of Caleb over our son. In Christ, our son is to overcome in all adversity. As Paul stated, we are a people that are more than conquerors.
Finally, I was also strongly encouraged by these words about Caleb as found just one chapter later in Numbers 14:
But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. (Numbers 14:24)
These were the words that had caught my wife’s eyes, that Caleb had a different spirit. Caleb was marked by a spirit after the heart of God, willing to follow His heart fully. This could really only be imparted by the Spirit of God.
And so I was also able to pray these words over my son as he lay asleep in my arms yesterday, that he would be one of a different spirit. When others do not see a way forward, he would see a way forward in God. When other people react in ungodly ways, he would respond with godly wisdom and grace. When others are pursuing those things that are not of the kingdom of God, he would be marked by that different spirit to passionately seek first the kingdom and its righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
Lastly, how did we come about the name Benjamin?
This also is a very well known name, in the Scriptures and in general life. Each of us probably know five different Benjamins (or Ben for short). But the reason why this name was chosen is that the literal translation of the Hebrew name is ‘son of the right hand’. In Hebrew, Ben means ‘son of’ and yamin mean ‘right hand’.
Therefore, this was a declaration about the relationship that would exist between myself and my son. He would be the son of the (or my) right hand. I want to build towards a close, intimate, fatherly relationship with my son. I want our relationship to consist of sharing life together, sharing conversation, sharing fun times, sharing hard times, sharing laughs, sharing tears, sharing guy times, and so much more. Thus, Caleb Benjamin was to be the son of my right hand.
So this is what we have prayed, even prophesied, over our son. We are exited to see this little one formed into the image of Jesus through the whole journey of life. This will by no means be ‘easy’, but it will definitely be life-changing. I can only imagine that we will learn so much about God’s father-love through the raising of our son. In the end, God might teach us more through our son than He will ever use us to teach Caleb. And I will be ok with that. But it will be an epic experience for all.
We are truly elated to begin this journey with Caleb Benjamin Lencke.