In the book of Genesis, God called and spoke creation into existence. With the same calling, He calls and declares providence on you and me today. When God calls, He’s inviting us into His kind of love and purpose for our lives.
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14, ESV)
Before my mother conceived me, she had the idea to name me Angel Dawn, which my father said was a horrible thought. The name was shot down and replaced with Amber Nicole before my entrance into this world. My name did not have a significant meaning, but being called by name, I knew it was mine.
What does it mean to be "called by a name"?
While "Amber" generally brought laughter and warmth, "Amber Nicole" met a nervous heart with timeout in the corner for my punishment. There may be other "Amber Nicole's," but I am the only "Amber Nicole" my parents call by name with intent, pursuit, and zeal. To give someone or something a name is a mark of love.
Far beyond our earthly parents and guardians here on Earth, someone else calls us by His name, and He is the supreme Author and Creator of each of us. So what does the phrase "if my people who are called by my name” mean?
What was happening in 2 Chronicles 7:14?
Surrounding the context of 2 Chronicles 7:14, King Solomon has dedicated the Temple to the Lord, in which His glory has now filled that place. Because of the Lord's overwhelming presence, no one could enter the location of His occupancy, but they could stand in wonder as they worshipped His Holy Name. Bowing down, praising God, and offering sacrifices to the Lord, verses 8-10 reflect this festival of adoration:
"Solomon observed the festival at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him—a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. On the eighth day, they held an assembly, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the festival for seven days more. On the twenty-third day of the seventh month, he sent the people to their homes, joyful and glad in heart for the good things the Lord had done for David and Solomon and for his people Israel.” (2 Chronicles 7:8-10, ESV)
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After these festivals, and after Solomon had completed all he had in mind for the Lord’s temple and his palace, the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said,
"I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place" (2 Chronicles 7:11-15, ESV).
After obeying and following the decrees of the Lord, God appeared to Solomon in relationship and concern for his people. Explaining that though disaster would soon strike, God promised to fight for His people as long as they would remember that they belong to Him.
What does it mean to belong?
If we belong to Christ, we will recognize that we are a new creation. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV).
If we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and believe in His birth, death, and resurrection, we will humble ourselves before Him, trusting that He knows best. "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" (James 4:10, NIV).
We will acknowledge that He is Lord and fully accept the free salvation that He brings. "That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9, NASB).
Just as a child belongs to a father and mother, everyone belongs to someone or something. "To belong" means to be the property of or part of a particular group, organization, or class—Derived from the Old English belangian, of Germanic origin.
Through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we have all been called by the Lord to belong to Him. 1 Peter 2:9-10 tells us that though we were once sinners, those who are saved by the redeeming blood will be called His child:
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10, NIV)
What does it mean to be God's people and called by His name?:
In the KJV, Scripture highlights our verses with emphasis: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14, KJV).
To be called by God’s name, in the context of the phrase, “called by my name,” can be traced to Strong’s word, qārā', meaning to call, call out, recite, read, cry out, and proclaim. Kaw-raw'; a primitive root through the idea of accosting a person met, also suggests that being called or “accosted” by His nature carries the connotation of Him first approaching and seeking intimacy.
Occurring 734 times in 688 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the KJV, this calling tells us that to be called by God is to be specially chosen and ordained for His purposes for us in love. 1 John 4:19 tells us this, in that we can only love because He first loved us. But beyond mere infatuation with our souls, God has hand-crafted and chosen each of us to be His royal priesthood, with divine purposes for our lives both here on Earth and later in eternity.
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In the book of Genesis, God called and spoke creation into existence. With the same calling that breathed life into dust and created Adam, or called Noah to a heavenly task, He calls and declares providence on you and me today. But even beyond this “accosted” definition, a calling by God’s name also means bidden, or an invitation to partake in this relationship with Him. Just as my parents would call my name anticipating a response, Jesus cries out to each of us, saying, “My child, I have great plans for you.” But it’s up to us to be willing to fulfill that call.
When God calls, He’s inviting us into His kind of love and purpose for our lives. Jeremiah 31:3 of the KJV notes, “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3, KJV).
This everlasting love also creates a clear connection to the third definition of “called,” meaning to be renowned or famous for presenting Christ-like qualities. If we accept the love He offers, we should share, embody, and proclaim that calling of love with others. Perhaps the best translation and application of being called is found in 1 Peter 2:9 shared above: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, CSB).
Let it be known that the Lord desires for all sinners to be saved, and though all have fallen short of the glory of God, He still calls us to belong to Him (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:23; Matthew 23:37; Romans 3:23). However, to be His people, we must humble ourselves in surrender to His holiness, accepting the fallenness of our humanity, and need to depend on Him for eternal life.
Once we have confessed our sins and accepted Jesus Christ into our lives to restore us and make us whole, we are then a new creation beating with the purpose, vision, and passion He first called to us within desire. John 10:10 in the NIV reminds us that God's plan for His people is full of blessing, redemption, and beauty: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
This abundant life not only enables us to live with Christ but to benefit from the overflowing goodness of His new mercies and salvation. Ephesians 2:10 in the ESV remarks, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them," and those who belong to God are richly endowed with eternity in view.
A Call to Christians Today:
In a parallel Scripture, Isaiah 63:19 calls for a cry of mercy upon God's chosen people (Israel) who once followed Him and then turned away to seductive idols. And as much as we scoff at that disobedience, we do the same thing every single day and turn aside from Him.
Today, it's our choice to follow God and be called His people, but that starts with a repentant heart (Isaiah 45:19; Lamentations 3:40-41), willing spirit (Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 55:6-7; Isaiah 59:20; Ezekiel 18:27-30), prayerful mindset (Acts 9:11), and humble charisma (2 Chronicles 6:37-39; 2 Chronicles 33:12-13,2 Chronicles 33:18-19; Leviticus 26:40-41; Deuteronomy 4:29-30; Deuteronomy 30:1-6; Ezekiel 33:11; James 4:9-10).
"We have become like those of old, over whom You never ruled, Those who were never called by Your name.” (Isaiah 63:19, NKJV)
I don't know about you, but I want my name, Amber Nicole Ginter, to be upon the lips of the One who calls my name, and Jesus Christ desires to call you by yours.
Amber Ginter is a teacher, author, blogger, and mental health activist who resides in the beautiful mountains and cornfields of Ohio. She loves Jesus, granola, singing, reading, dancing, running, her husband Ben, and participating in all things active. She’s currently enrolled in the Author Conservatory Program and plans to pitch her book: Mental Health and the Modern Day Church for Young Adults, soon. Visit her website at amberginter.com.
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