Have you ever heard God call you by your name?
He tells us He does that.
But now, this is what the Lord, your Creator says, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you [from captivity];
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
Isaiah 43:1 (AMP)
But that’s not all. King David penned a Psalm assuring us that God doesn’t just know our names, He knows everything about us.
You have searched me, Lord,
and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely.
In fact, we read later in that same Psalm that God knew each of us from top to bottom, inside and out, before we even arrived on the planet:
For you created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from You
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in Your book
before one of them came to be.
Yet, in our day-to-dayness, we might forget that, or like a Jewish acquaintance I will call Matthew, insist it isn’t true.
Matthew likes to debate people who talk to him about God. He insists there is no purpose to anything in life, and certainly no God Who is actively involved with us. And like our old black lab who would clamp her teeth down on a flattened tennis ball and refuse to release, Matthew has grabbed hold of several empty beliefs about God, and no amount of reasoning will make him let go. Which is how we got into a testy exchange recently about a king named Cyrus who lived long, long before either of us was born.
You see, Israel was once divided into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom was called Israel. The southern kingdom was called Judah. Due to their repeated insistence on breaking the First Commandment, both Israel and Judah were captured by other nations and carried off into exile. Yet, Judah’s captivity was not permanent and God named the Babylonian King Cyrus as the one who would not only allow the exiles in Babylon to return to Jerusalem, but would help them to do so.
For the Lord, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb says this,
“I am the Lord, Maker of all things,
Who alone stretches out the heavens,
Who spreads out the earth by Myself, frustrating the signs
and confounding the omens of boasters (false prophets),
Making fools out of fortune-tellers,
Counteracting the wise
And making their knowledge ridiculous,
Confirming the word of His servant
And carrying out the plan of His messengers.
It is I who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall [again] be inhabited!’
And of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall [again] be built.’
And I will raise up and restore her ruins…
“It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd (ruler),
And he will carry out all that I desire—’
Saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall [again] be built,’
And of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall [again] be laid.’”
(Isaiah 44:24-28 AMP)
Did you see that? God says, “It is I Who says of Cyrus…he will carry out all that I desire…” God names Cyrus by name and declares what he will do. But perhaps you didn’t know this. God proclaimed that about Cyrus two hundred years before he was even born!
My friend Matthew refused to believe it. He insisted there is no God Who speaks to us, or about us like that. I shared some of my own stories about the many times I’ve recognized God speaking to me but Matthew berated me, cutting me off to tell me of a similar time in his life when “no third party helped him” with a life-and-death matter of his own.
And just as I could feel my emotional temperature rising, the Holy Spirit spoke to me in a moment of clarity.
“You’re jealous!” I said. “You’re jealous because I hear God talking to me, and you don’t!”
And for the first time in several minutes, Matthew had absolutely nothing to say.
There are Scriptures in Deuteronomy 32, that are quoted in Romans 10 telling us that God allows His chosen people Israel to be provoked to jealousy by what they see Him doing among the Gentiles.
“But Jeshurun (Israel) became fat and kicked [at God].
You (Israel) became fat, thick, sleek, and obstinate!
Then he abandoned God who had made him,
And scorned the Rock of his salvation.
“They (Israel) provoked Him (God) to jealousy with strange gods [by denying Him the honor and loyalty that is rightfully and uniquely His];
And with repulsive acts they provoked Him to anger.
“They sacrificed to demons, not to God,
To gods whom they have not known,
New gods who came lately,
Whom your fathers never feared.
“You (Israel) were unmindful of the Rock who bore you,
And you forgot the God who gave you birth.
“The Lord saw it, and rejected them,
Out of indignation with His sons and His daughters.
“Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them,
I will see what their end shall be;
For they are a perverse generation,
Sons in whom there is no faithfulness.
‘They have made Me jealous with what is not God;
They have provoked Me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
By “foolish nation” the Lord meant the Gentiles – those of us who are not Jews but become grafted in as legitimate sons and daughters of God when we become followers of Jesus. (See Romans, Chapters 9-11) What the Lord does in our lives can provoke someone like Matthew to jealousy, so that in the end, he will want what he hears God is giving me.
Which is why I can’t wait to tell him how God called me by my name last week.
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