Called by name.
We are studying the book of Exodus in our Sunday morning Bible study. God’s people were in slavery in Egypt after a period of favor during Joseph’s time. God hears their cry for help and uses Moses to rescue them.
That’s the short version of the story—the Exodus account has quite a few more details that I won’t share here. But there is one detail that I want to make note of: the Pharaoh that came to power and started mistreating the Israelites is never mentioned by name in all the account of Exodus (Exodus 1:8).
Why is this significant? One reason is because the names of people in the Bible are significant. Jacob is called the “heal-grabber”—always trying to get things for himself. Abraham’s name means the “father of many nations.” Naomi wants to change her name to Mara because Mara means “bitter.” Names have meaning.
But here is another reason why names are a big deal: God says to his people,
“I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” // Isaiah 43:1
God is calling us by name because names are personal. I like it when people actually use my name instead of “hey you,” or “number 26, you’re up”—the DMV seems to like that impersonal numbering system. Not God. He uses our personal name and by that name he calls us.
Then he goes one step further:
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. // Isaiah 49:15-16
You are of such significance to God that he would actually write your name on his hand. This is not because he is prone to forget, referring to how we might write down a phone number on our hand or use our hand as a post-it note when none is available. God puts our name in his hand because we are so treasured by him—just the way a baby is treasured by their mother. And if you want to see how much God treasures you, just watch how the young moms and dads in our congregation adore their little babies. God’s love for you is even greater than theirs.
May you live today knowing that God so treasures you. You are engraved in the palms of his hands. He has called you by name.