What Does the Bible Say About Hearing Your Name Called?

God calls people by name at important points in the Bible. The most reliable and consistent means of hearing from God today is through the Bible.

What Does the Bible Say About Hearing Your Name Called

It is quite a common phenomena for people to experience hearing their name called, only to realize that there was no one there calling. Often we are left wondering whether or not we were imagining things. But does the Bible have anything to say about hearing your name called? It is true that God spoke audibly to His people in the Bible. It is also true that He continues to speak to His people today, particularly through Scripture by means of the Holy Spirit.

God has created all of humanity and knows each person by name. In the Bible there are several examples of God, or a messenger/angel sent by God, calling both men and women by name.

“But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (ESV) Isaiah 43:1

There are a few categories in the Bible to describe the times when God calls people by name:

  • Definitive Calling – There are times when God or an angel sent by God calls people by name to commission them to a particular task.

  • Personal Knowing – At times God intimately calls people by name and declares something to them.

  • Covenantal Naming – There is often a covenantal aspect to God’s naming. The Bible at times speaks of God calling his people collectively by name (Israel, the Church, Jesus’ “sheep”), with the assumed idea that the group is made up of various individuals who are also called or named by God (Mark 3:13; Romans 8:30).

What Does the Bible Say About Hearing Your Name Called (KJV)?

“Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.”Deuteronomy 4:36
“And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.”Deuteronomy 5:24
“Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.”Isaiah 49:1
“For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.”Isaiah 45:4
“And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.”Exodus 33:17
“To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. … My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”John 10:3, 27

Types Of Voices In the Bible

The Voice of God

“…diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes” (ESV)Exodus 15:26

By far the most prominent voice in the Bible is the voice of the Lord. God’s voice is the definitive voice that calls creation into being and speaks into creation to reveal his character. God’s laws reflect his character; obeying God’s voice is equated to obeying his laws and submitting to his self-revelation through Scripture (Psalm 95:7-11). Jesus states that his sheep hear his voice and they follow him (John 10:27). Here Jesus’ voice is equated to God’s effective calling of his people.

As 2 Timothy 3:16 reveals, the Bible itself operates as the definitive voice of God in the life of the Church. To hear God’s voice today is to hear and respond in faith to the Good News of Jesus’ death in our place for sin, and to become participants in his resurrection which promises eternal life with God for those who are united to Christ through faith.

The voice of God’s messengers (prophets, angels), although distinct from God speaking directly into creation, are those who speak on behalf of God the words which God has commanded (Jeremiah 28:13).

The Voice of the Antagonist

Not all voices mentioned in the Bible are aligned with God’s gracious purposes for the world.

“But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.” Luke 23:23

The voice of the crowd demanding Jesus’ crucifixion led to the death of the Son of God. In other places in the Bible, the voices which oppose God are less outwardly hostile but are no less opposed to God’s will (Genesis 3:16, 16:2).

The Voice of the Needy

The Bible describes numerous places where voices are lifted to the Lord as a cry for help, salvation, deliverance from physical and/or spiritual oppression. God hears the voice of children (Genesis 21:17), people in slavery (Exodus 2:24), people in distress (Psalm 18:6; 2 Samuel 19:4). Elsewhere the people of God are called to lift their voices in praise to God (Psalm 68:4).

What Does the Bible Say About Hearing Your Name Called

Biblical Meaning of Hearing Your Name Called in a Dream

There are numerous instances in the Bible when God speaks to a person in a dream, either directly or through an angel. On a few occasions, God calls a person directly by name in a dream:

  • Jacob (Genesis 31:11)
  • Joseph (Matthew 1:20)

God’s calling of these people by name in a dream reveals a sense of intimacy in the relationship, a personal knowing. Further, in both of the examples, God gives both Jacob and Joseph some kind of instruction. With Jacob, God was declaring that Jacob would be the carrier of God’s covenantal promise to bless the nations through Abraham. 

Although people may experience dreams and experiences of various kinds, the primary and most reliable means people should expect to hear from God today is through the Bible.

Who Did God Call by Name in the Bible?

  • Hagar (Genesis 21:17)
  • Abraham (Genesis 22:11-12)
  • Isaac (Genesis 28:13)
  • Jacob (Genesis 46:1)
  • Moses (Exodus 3:4)
  • Elijah (1 Kings 19:9)
  • Samuel (1 Samuel 3:10)

God commissions various prophets in the Old Testament through a direct calling (e.g., Jeremiah 1:5).

What Does it Mean When God Calls Your Name Twice?

In the few examples in the Bible of God calling someone by name twice, there is a sense in which the additional call signified the importance and urgency of what God had to say. 

“God urgently stopped Abraham from fulfilling the command given to sacrifice his son, proving to Abraham God’s good character and faithfulness to his promises. ” Abraham (Genesis 22:11-12)
“God wanted his full attention to encourage him to travel on to Egypt to be with Joseph until the end of his days.” Jacob (Genesis 46:1-4)
“God called to Moses twice to let him know that He was in God’s presence, and to tell Moses of His plans to free Israel from Egypt.” Moses (Exodus 3:1-10)
“God declared to Samuel his plan to judge Eli and his sons for “blaspheming God” (3:13). ” Samuel (1Samuel 3:10)
“Jesus’ twice call of Martha’s name is the beginning of a loving but firm correction on the priorities of heartfelt, Christ-centered worship. ” Martha (Luke 10:41)
“Jesus called Saul by name twice, asked him why he was persecuting Him (Jesus). God chose Saul to be an instrument for spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles.” Saul (Acts 9:1-22)

Stephen D

Stephen Dillard serves as a Bible Scholar with Wycliffe Associates and is a contributing writer on Revelations.org. He is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. He and his wife, Madison, have four children and make their home in Indiana.

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