When my kids were little and I used their middle names, they knew I meant business. God does something similar in the Bible. When He calls the name of a person twice, He's getting ready to to something radical in that person's life.
There are seven times in Scripture when God calls the name of a person twice.
After 25 years of waiting for a child, Abraham and Sarah finally hold baby Isaac in their arms. He fills their home with such joy and laughter. But years later, God tests Abraham's faith by asking him to sacrifice the promised child. Although Abraham does not understand what God is doing, he obeys, and just as he has the knife posed in the air ready to kill his son, the angel of the Lord interrupts him.
Abraham has passed the test, proving that he fears God. The Lord provides a ram in the thicket as a substitute sacrifice for Isaac, pointing to the ultimate Lamb of God who will one day lay down His life as a sacrifice for our sins.
Jacob just found out that his favourite son Joseph isn’t dead—in fact, he’s second in command in Egypt. Old man Jacob wants to see Joseph before he dies, so packs up his family and begins the journey toward Egypt. On the way he has a vision.
The Lord tells Jacob not to be afraid. He will see Joseph, and his descendants will become a great nation.
Moses was born to Israelite parents during a time when the Egyptian ruler had ordered all baby boys to be thrown into the Nile. Moses' mother hides him in a basket and he is found by Pharaoh's daughter. He is raised in the palace, but knowing he is an Israelite, he has a heart of the mistreatment of his people. In an effort to defend and Israelite man, Moses killed an Egyptian and fled from Pharaoh’s punishment. Now he’s living as a shepherd for his father-in-law, out in the wilderness. One day, while tending the sheep, Moses sees a mysterious sight: a bush is on fire, yet not burning up. Then a voice calls out from the flames:
It is the God of Moses’ ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And the Lord commissions Moses to lead the nation of Israel out of slavery.
In a time when people rarely hear from God, a boy asleep in the tabernacle hears a voice calling him multiple times in the middle of the night. The boy Samuel assumes that the high priest is calling him, but soon learns that the voice is from someone far greater.
Samuel learns to discern the voice of God and grows up to become a prophet of God to the nation of Israel.
Jesus is in the home of His friends Martha and Mary. Mary chooses to sit at Jesus’ feet, listening with rapt attention to His teaching.
Martha, on the other hand, focuses on all the tasks that come with hosting a Rabbi and His followers in her home. She’s annoyed and frustrated that Mary has left all the work on her, so she asks Jesus to have Mary help her.
Jesus tells Martha that she is worried and distracted about so many things—and that Mary has taken advantage of the opportunity to learn from Him, which is the far better choice.
Jesus shared the Passover meal with His 12 disciples , and the hour of his betrayal is drawing near. But the apostles begin bickering about which one of them is the greatest.
Then he turns to Simon Peter:
Jesus tells Peter that even he will deny the Lord, but that after he repents, he will strengthen the other believers. Peter does deny knowing Jesus, but after he is restored by the resurrected Jesus, he goes on to become a leader of in the early church.
A young Pharisee named Saul is a zealous persecutor of Christians. On his way to Damascus with a letter in hand from the high priest authorizing him to arrest and imprison Christ-followers, he is blinded by a vision of the risen Christ.
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
Jesus chooses Saul to be an instrument to witness to the name of Jesus to the Gentiles. Saul, later known as Paul, became one of the greatest missionaries of all time and wrote a large chunk of the New Testament.
As you can see, when God called the name of these people twice, He was about to do something dramatic in their lives and in the story of redemption. God is relational, speaking to get our attention and address our hearts.
Are you listening for God to call your name? If He called it twice, what do you think He would be about to do in your life?