“The John Wayne of the Old Testament”

Various folks have asked us why we chose the name ‘Josiah’. Emily Renner suggested that Josiah (Jo-si-ah) might be named after Josiah Bartlet, the main character on the West Wing. This is a plausible explanation, given how much I like that show, and especially since I’ve got Steph hooked on it lately. But we actually put a lot of time into picking Josiah’s name. We took several trips to Barnes and Noble and picked the various baby name books off the shelves and made our lists and widdled them down…

‘Josiah’ made the list in the first place because we just liked the sound of it, and it’s kind of unique. But when we looked up the meaning, we were hooked:

Josiah basically means ‘God will help’ or ‘God will save’. But then it gets even cooler in the original Hebrew. It literally means ‘Jehovah will bring fire’, which could then also be translated ‘The fire of Jehovah’ or ‘The fire of the Lord’.

In the Bible, names carry great significance, and even in modern life, it seems like people’s character often fits with the meaning of their name. The name ‘Josiah’ is used 52 times in the Bible, (almost) always referring to King Josiah in the book of 2 Kings.

When we were in the hospital one of the nurses asked us what our son’s name is, and as soon as we told her she said, “Ah, the John Wayne of the Old Testament.” Because that’s exactly who king Josiah was. He inherited his wicked father’s throne when he was 8 years old, and as he grew old enough to make his own decisions, he totally cleaned house in Jerusalem and Judah. He tore down and burned all the idols and alters to idols. He deposed all the pagan priests. He dusted off the Scriptures and had them tought to the people. He even re-instituted the Passover after it had been disregarded for years.

He brought the fire of the Lord to his people.

That’s our prayer for Josiah Michael Riesland.

We want him to grow up to be a fire in our home, in our families, in our community, and in the world at large. We want him to bring a fire of purity. A fire of joy. A fire that burns up our false gods and exposes our idolatry. We want him him to bring the fire of the Gospel to a lost and broken world.

Please join us as we pray for the grace to raise him to be such a man!


  1. hey bud,
    here’s hoping you’ll at least respond to a comment on your blog…

    praying for you all and rest and all that good stuff. miss you something fierce…


  2. Steph and Zack,

    Congratulations on your beautiful baby boy! He’s precious not only in God’s sight but in ours. May God bless him all the days of his life, and grant both of you wisdom, patience, and love for him and strong unity as a family.

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