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God has His reasons why He would change someone's name and who are we to question Him? The April 1980 issue of Good News magazine carried an article called "History of Church" that helps us to understand why Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter: "...and He gave him a surname prophetic of moral and spiritual strength he would eventually demonstrate. Jesus bestowed upon him new name, before he had earned it that it might be an incentive to him to realize what Jesus had expected."
After going to bed, about to fall asleep, Isaiah 29:1 flashed into my mind. What's amazing is that I had never memorized that Scripture! It reveals that Ariel is a nickname for JERUSALEM! I now understand why God Father had chosen Ariel for me. Anyone who knows me knows that Jerusalem is always on my mind (Jer. 51:50), especially after my first visit there to celebrate Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) in 1980. God has shown me that He's stirred me up and given me a burning desire for Jerusalem and Israel (Isa. 62:1, 6-7). I finally realized that God was calling me a "SON OF JERUSALEM."
I got out of bed, got down on my knees with tears in my eyes, and thanked God for truly knowing us inside and out, just like His Word says, and embraced new name God had given me! I also accepted it as a SPIRITUAL GOAL: to live worthy of one named after holy Jerusalem and all that it ideally represents.
I end my prayers facing Jerusalem every night with "Yerushalayim shel Zahav" (Jerusalem of Gold), a plea for Jerusalem to fulfill its calling (2 Chron. 6:38-39; Dan. 6:10). Later, I began to understand how Ariel can also refer to Judah and King David. Since my family tree is traced back to British and Scottish Royal Families (the Royal House of David) it's also befitting that Ben-Ariel can mean "son of David" and "son of Judah" (whose tribal emblem is lion).
I'm convinced that God of Bible, God of Israel, and God of my forefather David, has blessed me with name of Ariel. Even if I chose Ariel for myself - which I did not, I originally objected to it - there wouldn't be any harm in that since such a practice is Biblical: "One shall say, I am LORD'S; and another shall call himself by name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto LORD, and surname himself by name of Israel" (Isa. 44:5).
God surnamed me Ariel back around 1982, however it wasn't until 1989 that I finally changed my name legally. I knew that even though God had given me name that I didn't necessarily have to change my name. I was also hesitant to do so because I am only son and only Hoover males alive (that I'm aware of) were my grandfather and myself. I didn't want name to die out, not that I'm married and have any sons anyway (although God assures His "eunuchs" that we'll be given excellent and eternal names - Isa. 56:5). I began to see that Hoover was possibly an Anglicized form of German Huber (since many immigrants changed their names upon arrival in America).
I also didn't want to hurt or offend my grandfather or possibly get disinherited, but I made up my mind that since I was about to seek citizenship in Israel, starting a new chapter in our family history, I was going to take lead and change my name. My grandfather ended up dying about four months before fact, unaware of what I planned to do. So now I've been David Ben-Ariel for years and my family and friends are used to it.
My God-given name is ESTABLISHED BEFORE GOD who mentions Jerusalem twice in it: City of David and Ariel.
David Ben-Ariel, an American author who has travelled widely and who has lived throughout Israel, shares a special focus on the Middle East and great interest in Jerusalem, reflected in hard-hitting articles that help others improve their understanding of that troubled region. Check out www.benariel.com