By Lynn Metier
There are numerous Scriptural references to being called by God’s name. The prophet Jeremiah claimed: “I have been called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 15:16b) What does it mean to be called by the name of the LORD? While the Hebrew name Jeremiah comes from 2 words which can be translated “Yahweh will be exalted”, surely the Old Testament prophet must have known that to be called by God’s name had more profound implications than just in the translation of his name. And what about today’s “Christians”? Have we looked past the obvious but superficial fact that the term “Christian” is derived from “Christ” – not really His name, but a reference to His mission as God’s Anointed One – to contemplate what it means to be “called” by the LORD’s name?
The word “called” has several meanings, many of which apply in the phrase we are studying. One definition is “accosted”. Now it should be remembered that God’s name is not merely an identification label, but it stands for and depicts the very nature, essence, and character of God; so to be “called” by God’s name can mean to be “accosted” by His nature. This carries the connotation of His approaching and first greeting us with the desire to influence and even seek intimacy with us. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:10,19) It is good to remember that Elohim, the Triune, Almighty God, who spoke the universe into existence, has called us to be His own!
In fact, a second meaning for “called” is “bidden, invited”, and this gives us the insight that God’s character draws us to Him. Jeremiah 31:3 quotes Jehovah as saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” And in Romans 2:4 Paul wrote that “the goodness of God leads you to repentance”. When Moses asked God to show him His glory – i.e., to reveal to him the essence of His Being – God’s reply was: “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you” (Exodus 33:19,20). (See also Exodus 34:5-7.) God’s nature is proclaimed through His name, and that compassionate, gracious, and long-suffering nature of Yahweh (Jehovah) – the eternal “I AM” – continues to call believers to a more intimate relationship with Him.
The third idea that can be conveyed by being “called” by the LORD’s name is to be “renowned, famous”, or “noted for” having His characteristics or displaying a God-likeness; in other words, manifesting the image of God in which we were created. But it goes beyond displaying God’s image by just imitating His character, for as born-again believers it should be the LORD’s very nature that comes forth through our lives, magnifying His name that He has shared with us. One may wonder why Jehovah would share His name with believers. For one thing, when a person has a spiritual birth, Paul states that “you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15) He further explains in Romans 8:17 and Galatians 4:6,7 that we are also heirs, so it is not surprising then that our heavenly Father would impart His nature and His name to His children. Furthermore, the Church is identified as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:28-32, Revelation 21:9), so our Husband places His name upon us.
The first place in the Bible that references being called by the LORD’s name is Deuteronomy 28:10. This was addressed to the nation of Israel, and states that their identification as the people of Jehovah would bring fear to all other peoples. Why was (and still is) that one nation singled out to receive special identification with God? Isaiah 54:5-7 and Jeremiah 31:32 tell us that Israel is the wife of Jehovah.
In the contextual reference promising liberation to the Jewish people and restoration to their land, the LORD identifies as His people: “Every one who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” (Isaiah 43:7) Since those who have experienced a spiritual birth in Christ are also people He has made, formed, created for His glory, and called by His name, Christians are also promised the LORD’s presence, protection, and provision. Thus, being called by the name of the LORD affords special privileges and blessings, as well as marking a distinction and separation from all other peoples.
Have you been accosted by His nature, drawn by His character, and called by the name of the LORD?