It is remarkable that the Word of God makes mention of the fact that God called the name of a person two times in a row, and the more remarkable fact is that there are seven people who are called by name twice in a row. Have you ever considered that God may be calling you twice in a row? Maybe there is an urgent message, or a gentle rebuke from Him that He will call you by name two times.
It is with the view to encourage, and to examine the message in the cases of these seven people that God mentions twice in a row.
- Abraham, Abraham – offering Isaac Gen 22. This is the first time that God called someone by name twice. God asked Abraham to offer up his son Isaac as a burnt offering. I wonder what would be going through Abraham’s mind. This was after Abraham had to send Ishmael out of his home. Ishmael is a type of the flesh and when the flesh (old nature) in a believer is prominent, communion with the Lord is broken. Therefore, anything that would hinder communion has to be put out in order for the next test that God sends. We need to remember this is in the Old Testament, and the Lord will never ask us to offer our children as a burnt offering. Even at that time, this was unknown, and the nations were not even doing that, so it would have been unacceptable in the world’s view in those days.
However, Abraham is marked by obedience, as we read in James 2 that his faith in God was justified by the work that followed. When God saw that Abraham’s heart was obedient, and that he was about to slay his son (see Heb 11:17-19), God had to call his name twice, as a matter of urgency to get Abraham’s attention.
2. Jacob, Jacob – When he was on his way to Egypt after hearing that Joseph was alive (Gen 46:2). We see Jacob’s life leading up to Gen 45 that it was all according to his own strength, according to the flesh, and there was not a mention of him praying. Yes, he did build altars and spoke to God, but no thought of asking His will in going to a place. This is why we see him moving from place to place, and trouble coming to him as a result of not heeding God’s voice. It seems that finally he had asked God’s will in going to Egypt to see Joseph who he longed for, and God called him twice to confirm to him not to be afraid to go down to Egypt. Jacob had learned a vital lesson, and we would do well to learn to ask God’s will in making decisions that may have a lasting impact on our lives.
3. Moses, Moses – when Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law in Midian, and saw the burning bush Ex 3:4. God had to call him twice as Moses was about to investigate the wonder of the bush that was burning but not consumed. God was about to call him for a very important task, but Moses had to learn that he was in the presence of a holy God, and that he had to realise that God wanted his attention. We too are in holy ground when in the presence of God, and it may be that if our lives are not upright when we come into His presence, then the Lord may have to call our names twice and remind us that whatever the things in our lives are that do not please Him, we are to get rid of this before boldly coming into His presence to worship Him. Joshua also had to learn this in Josh 5:13-15. The sandals speak of the things of the world that can so easily hinder our worship to the Lord.
4. Samuel, Samuel – when Samuel was serving in the temple under Eli the priest – 1 Sam 3:10. It is striking in that instance that God had called him by name once, as ‘Samuel’ (see verses 4 and 6). Samuel was still young, and even he recognised God calling him before he said, Samuel, Samuel! It may be that God can call our name once, or two times, before He calls us twice in a row to get our attention. This was a message to Samuel about the judgment of the house of Eli because of the corruption in Israel at that time. As the responsible priest, Eli was not effective in teaching God’s Word, and his sons were so corrupt and did evil that God slew them.
We can learn in our day today that God is calling us to share the good news of His grace to the people around us, and we need to be ready and attentive to the message that we are given. It may be that God calls us once, or two times, or that He needs to call us again, but this third time twice in a row.
This is the Old Testament occasions where God called someone twice in a row, and it is wonderful that in each of these instances, the responses of Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Samuel was, ‘here am I’. Do we respond in like manner?
5. Martha, Martha – Luke 10:41. This is the first of the New Testament instances when the Lord Jesus Christ calls a person twice in a row. This was a gentle rebuke by the Lord, who loved Martha, her sister Mary, and their brother Lazarus. Martha was distracted while serving, and wanted her sister to help, but Mary was at the Lord’s feet, listening to Him. When Martha complained, the Lord was gentle with her and showed her that while it is a good thing to serve, it is equally important to sit in His presence and listen to what He has to say.
We learn that we too can be distracted in the service and at times we feel that we are alone, until the Lord has to call us twice in a row, to draw our attention to Him, and not to be focussed on the service. Serving the Lord is a good thing, but this can take up too much of our time from coming into His presence to worship and learn of Him.
It is remarkable that the first instance in the New Testament where the Lord calls a person twice in a row is to a woman. Therefore, it is equally important to learn that women have a role in serving the Lord as do the men.
6. Simon, Simon – this is when Peter was about to deny the Lord but He prays for Peter – Luke 22:31. The urgency here is for Peter to not rely on his own pride or strength, as we see traces of Peter speaking when he should not, or saying the wrong things, even though his faith was in the right Person, it was not the time for what he believed in to happen, e.g. the restoration of the kingdom, and Israel freed from the bondage of the Romans. The Lord used the name Simon, as if to bring to Peter’s remembrance that on his own, he is nothing, and that he needs to rely on the Lord. We too can be proud and think that we are fine on our own, but maybe we need the Lord in His grace to call us by name twice in a row.
7. Saul, Saul – this is when Paul, who was called Saul, was on his way to Damascus in Acts 9. The Lord had to stop him from going too far and doing his own work (Acts 9:4-5). In this instance, Saul had to learn that he was not only persecuting the Christians in every place, but that it was affecting Christ Himself. The risen Christ in heaven identifies Himself with His people, and Saul had to learn the valuable teaching about Christ as the Head of the Church (all true believers in Christ). Paul later writes these truths in his epistles.
In all of these instances when the Lord calls people by name twice in a row, it was a turning point in each person’s life. We see here that the Lord Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament, for who, apart from God Himself, can call people’s name twice in a row and then a response flows out and becomes the turning point in the person’s life?
There are some other instances when names are mentioned twice in a row, and this is also in the New Testament, coming from the Lord Jesus Christ:
- Jerusalem, Jerusalem – Christ weeping for the city before going to the cross in Matthew 23:36.
- Lord, Lord – the Lord explaining about the danger of professing Him without being saved. Matthew 7:21-22. The other instance where it is recorded Lord, Lord, is when the Lord was speaking to the crowd and saying to them, ‘why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?’ (Luke 6:46)
- My God, my God – Psalm 22:1 and when the Lord was on the cross in Matt 27:46, and Mark 15:34.
May we be encouraged by this short study and heed the Word of God when He calls us for specific tasks, or when we seek to do His will, or it may be that we need to sit in His presence more, pray and read His word more before going out to service.