When I was four, my parents divorced.
The split was unfriendly, and my father received limited visitation rights. By the end of the next year, my mother had remarried, and adoption proceedings were underway. Regardless of what was in my best interest, I was assigned a new name—that of my stepfather. I bore a different identity for 45 years.
In mid-adulthood, determined to regain the core of who I had once been, I had my stepfather’s name legally removed from my birth certificate. I’ll never forget the joy that filled my heart the day I called my father and said, “Dad, I just wanted you to know I changed my name. I’m so glad to be your daughter.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 is a verse many have been quoting and sharing on social media since the pandemic has swept across the world. It reads, “…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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
While it is important to consider the verse both in context and in its entirety, there is a lot to be gained by considering the phrase, if My people who are called by My name.
First, God’s children know His name; He is our Abba Father and we are safe in his care. When trouble comes, all we need to do is call out and He will hurry to our side. No circumstance is too great for our strong Daddy to manage. Poor health diagnoses, financial hardships, and relationship struggles are all within His care.
Did you notice the word my is used twice in this phrase and, both times, it is capitalized? The writer is emphasizing the pronoun which refers to God. As a small girl, I was legally called by my stepfather’s last name even though he didn’t treat me like a daughter. In the same way, Christians can look to other gods–both literally or figuratively, to provide fulfillment in this life but only God deserves the title. When we make idols of other people, position, or power, then we have forgotten we bear His name as Christians.
Finally, the phrase is conditional and dependent upon human choices. If God’s people reject their pride, seek after Him, pray, and repent, then He will listen.
When God placed people in the Garden of Eden, He gave them the gift of free will. When we sin, we can choose to repent or stubbornly refuse. Like the parent whose teen is caught in a cycle of addiction, God waits patiently for His children to turn to Him and cry out, “I’m sorry, dad. Please, forgive me. I need your help.”
What Does “If My People Who Are Called by My Name” Mean?
The Hebrew version of “called,” qara, means to cry out or proclaim.
Genesis 4:26 provides context for the way in which we are to call out to God. “And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord” (NKJV).
As believers, we are meant to cry out to God—in our daily lives and in our desperate moments. Scripture also exhorts us to tell, or proclaim, the Good News to others. One Old-Testament example that employs the word qara in this way is Jonah 3:2 when the Lord commands, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you” (NIV).
We may not be sent to Nineveh, but Jesus still intends for His modern-day disciples to be on a mission. He left us with these words, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach (qara) the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15 NKJV).
Not only are we to cry out to God and proclaim His name, but we need to remember that as His sons and daughters, we represent Him. We are Christians—little Christs and our decisions, behaviors, and choices can either draw people toward or deter people from Jesus.
With the responsibility of sharing the Good News with others, I want to be careful about the way I conduct myself. We’ll explore practical ways we might do this effectively near the end of the article.
Let’s consider the words my people. When this scripture was written, God was speaking directly to His chosen nation-Israel. This was the nation with whom God had a special relationship. He had birthed the nation from Abram and Sarai and brought them through slavery, hardship in the wilderness, and wars with other nations.
Deuteronomy 7:6-8 reveals God’s heart for the Israelites. “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you…” (NKJV).
God loved His people. He still does, but now because of Christ’s sacrifice that love is available to everyone. We all have the opportunity to be called by His name; to be considered one of His.
Why Is God’s Name so Important?
While many toss God’s name around like a household name, ancient Jews refused to say the name of God for fear of misusing it. We could learn from that level of reverence. After all, the various names of God reveal His incredible character, power, and personality.
Frequently in Scripture, God is referred to as the name of the Lord or the name of God. These verses denote might and strength. At other times He is identified by specific names such I AM, which means self-sustaining, and Yahweh Jirah, The Lord Will Provide.
God’s names remind us that we are secure. As Acts 4:12 reads, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (NIV). There is power and strength in His name—we have nothing to fear when we are in right relationship with the Lord.
How Do We Live Out ‘If My People Are Called by My Name’?
Now that we’ve discussed why we are meant to cry out to God as well as proclaim the Good News of Scripture to others, let’s consider some practical ways we might be able to do this effectively.
The first portion of 2 Chronicles 7:14 includes the word humble. While humility might not be trendy, we can exemplify Christ by exhibiting an attitude of humility in our personal interactions and while on social media (Philippians 2:3-4). For example, instead of releasing a series of critical posts, we might prepare several encouraging Bible verses or inspiring quotes.
Two essential keys to this specific verse are pray and seek. These words mean “to intercede” and “demand.” When we pray and seek after the welfare of others, our nation, and the world, God responds. James 5:16 confirms that “…the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (NKJV). Instead of glibly telling people we will pray for them, believers can make a difference in the lives of others by making a habit of interceding. Keeping a prayer journal is one way to take note of God’s faithfulness.
Finally, we must share the truth of Christ with people who don’t yet know Him. In a world of people desperate for hope, we must be willing to share Jesus. We can do this by giving a word of comfort to the homeless along with a blessing bag that includes a small Bible, preparing adult Easter baskets for an unbelieving family member that include traditional items as well as books like The Case for Easter by Lee Strobel, or taking a meal to the shut-in down the street and writing a note which references a Bible verse.
Our identity as believers is intimately defined by that of our Lord. As children of God, we can rejoice because He is always near—like any good father, waiting for us to pray and seek after Him. What an incredible identity we bear because of Jesus.