People Who Call on the Name of the Lord
“At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:26 NIV)
In the fourth chapter of Genesis we find an obscure little verse: “At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.” And that’s the beginning of corporate religion as we know it.
Adam and Eve had fallen in the Garden and sinned; their son, Cain, had killed his brother Abel; and the descendants of Cain had begun to move away from God. But God granted Adam and Eve another child, whom they named Seth; and the descendants of Seth, it is written, began to call on the name of the Lord.
The people began to sense somehow that the Lord was not only a Creator God, but that he would intervene in the problems that they were facing if they just called on him. I wish I had been there in that moment when their first instinct was to look up to God and begin to call out to him and say, “God, help us with our harvest!” or, “Lord, my baby is sick. Please intervene!” They believed that this God who had created the universe could come and help put back in order that which was sick or wounded in some way.
The Bible tells us that that was really the first name of God’s people: people who call on the name of the Lord. There was no Bible yet, and there were no churches. Abraham hadn’t been born yet; so there was no Jewish nation. The law hadn’t been given yet; so there was no tabernacle and no temple. Nevertheless, the first instinct people had was to call on God—not only in prayer and petition, but also in worship and in praise.
Later on in Deuteronomy, Moses boasts to the people of Israel: “Who is a people like us who are so blessed to have a God who will draw near to us when we call on him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7). Later on, David says in one of the Psalms, “God has set apart the godly for himself; he hears when I call to him” (Psalm 4:3).
This instinct is in both the Old and New Testaments: When I call, God has promised to answer. And this is at the very foundation of religion— that God is a prayer-answering God. Therefore, we don’t have to give up and give in to fear or give in to hopelessness; instead, we can bring our hopeless situations to God. And God says, “This is how I will glorify my name: When you call I will answer; and then people will see how great I am, and how faithful I am to my people.”
Let’s call on his name today!
Read Genesis 4:1-26.