Summoned by Name
“But now, this is what the Lord says—He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’” Isaiah 43:1.
Near the end of their exile in Babylon, the children of Israel had done some soul-searching. Although they questioned God’s motives, Isaiah began his ministry by bringing them words of comfort. Isaiah begins chapter 40 with the promise of a return to Jerusalem. After an extensive rebuke in chapter 42, Isaiah shifts his tone back to hope in Isaiah 43:1, which begins with the word “But” as he continues to reassure the children of Israel that God has promised them a better future. These words of compassion extend to each one of us today. We do not deserve God’s love and mercy. However, when we ask for forgiveness, the past is forgotten. Our history of disobedience disappears and an opportunity to start a new life in Christ begins. Why? Because God knows us. Isaiah reminds us that God summons us by name and that we are His children.
In the Bible, names were important. A person’s name revealed the person’s character and identity. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, “for I have made you a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). He changed Jacob’s name to Israel, “because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28). In turn, Israel’s name became the name of the nation. The bestowing of a name was synonymous to conferring a new identity - acknowledging a new character. Naming someone was also an act of authority, denoting possession, responsibility and protection. God calling Israel by name reminded them that they had been embraced into His family and that they belonged there.
I am encouraged and love to know that God knows each of us by our name. He knew our name even before we were born. “He who created you, Jacob, and He who formed you, Israel,” also prompts us to know that He created the heavens and the earth, He created the nation of Israel with a call to Abram and He created us in His image. That is wonderful news, the God of the universe longs to call us personally. He ultimately yearns to form a deeper relationship with us and help us find our identity in Him.
By Lee-Roy Chacon, President