Known before Conception

"On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus,
the name the angel had given him before he was conceived." (Luke 2:21)
"Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:16)

Our understanding of personal identity seems quite different from that of the Scripture. When I hold an infant I often wonder what his or her future might look like. Parents who are expecting a child spend time contemplating the name that they will give the child once it is born. And as we watch the baby develop outside of the womb we start to watch a personality emerge.  Are we really tabula rasa as the philosophers suggest or is there more to us before we are even conceived than we can imagine?

Yes, Jesus is the exception as the Son of God has existed since the beginning of time.  But there is something generally profound about the idea of an angel giving a child its name before it is even conceived.  Do we see this elsewhere?  And when we do, what does it tell us?

Are all of our names known before our unique DNA comes to be or only those who will serve a very special purpose?

As we wait for our child, we wait with a name and that name is our hope.  The name gives our child reality and our cherishing it expresses faith in God's personal promises.

So when that child comes, will we say, "I have loved specifically you for the last eight years?" 

What must it have been like for Mary and separately Zechariah to pray for a child by name before the child was even conceived?


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