I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1
After breaking with our longtime church, my husband and I reunited with the fellowship after three long years. But how would people treat us? Would they welcome us back? Love us? Forgive us for leaving? We got our answer on a sunny Sunday morning. As we walked through the big church doors, we kept hearing our names. “Pat! Dan! It’s so great to see you!” As children’s author Kate DiCamillo wrote in one of her popular books, “Reader, nothing is sweeter in this sad world than the sound of someone you love calling your name.”
The same assurance was true for the people of Israel. We had chosen a different church for a time, but they had turned their backs on God. Yet He welcomed them back. He sent the prophet Isaiah to assure them, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
In this world—where we can feel unseen, unappreciated, and even unknown—be assured that God knows each of us by name. “You are precious and honored in my sight,” He promises (v. 4). “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you” (v. 2). This promise isn’t just for Israel. Jesus ransomed His life for us. He knows our names. Why? In love, we are His.
Why does God welcome His people back to Him? How has He shown that He knows you by name?
Jesus, when I stray from Your arms and Your fellowship, summon me home by name. I’m so grateful to be Yours.
In Isaiah 43, we see how the identity of God’s people is totally dependent upon the identity of God Himself. We might expect an Old Testament prophecy to be filled with dire warnings of cataclysmic judgment, and Isaiah certainly contains that. However, the book also provides immense comfort throughout its sixty-six chapters. In chapter 43, God promises to bring His exiled people back home (vv. 5–6). Typically, a conquered nation would be absorbed into the culture of their victorious enemies. But God’s people are different—even when being judged. Despite their long history of rebellion against God, the exiles remained His chosen people. God can’t deny His own character, and He tells His people, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (v. 25). The identity of God’s people is wrapped up in His character.