“But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.”‘
You may think by the title that I refer to the Third of the Ten Commandments and the seemingly constant frivolous misuse of the names of the Lord mindlessly abused by almost everyone. But no, the verses above tell the story I’m addressing. It has to do with not only Israel during the Babylon Captivity but I believe for Christians too. This occurred to me when I read these verses a few days ago, so I list the complete text at the bottom of the page in support.
First by no means does my theory deny the infinite love of our magnanimous Savior for His creation, otherwise the very intimate and personal sacrifice of His Son in the excruciatingly painful crucifixion and death on the cross is incomprehensible. Certainly we have a difficult time plumbing the depths of the verse from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” God does cherish His creation and creatures.
But His love not withstanding, God does judge the sin in the world. It is inescapable when reading the Bible from cover to cover to see both God’s deep and abiding love and forgiveness balanced with His powerful judgement. He postpones judgement time after time in hopes that His people will return to their senses, and sends His messengers to them time after time after time. But there comes a time when a line is crossed and time is up and all the multitudes of warnings have fallen on deaf ears and the promised judgements are rendered.
But it isn’t the judgement that concerns me here. It is for whom God is acting that makes me pause. Usually we human beings look at everything we go through in life from the perspective of – guess who – ourselves! Doesn’t it seem that everything starts and ends with how it affects us and our little world? “What will I eat?” “What will I drink?” “What will I wear?” (Matt. 6:31) Self preservation is very strong in all of us, so, such self centeredness is not surprising. And when we read of God’s mercy on the remnant of His people in the Old Testament we instinctively think it is mainly for their welfare He acts.
But these verses make it crystal clear that it is for the sake of the holiness of God’s name that He acts. It is so His name will not be profaned any longer that He does what He must do. He judges and He restores, not for man’s sake, but for the glory of God.
This should give the Christian great pause. The Born Again Believer should not be proud of heart that he was chosen from among the many to become a child of God, because, one, he was selected based on nothing that he had done deserving it, and two, it wasn’t done for his sake, but was done for the greater glory of God. This should humble the heart of every Christian. The Believer is made a child of God in order to bring glory to the majestic and magnificent Creator of all things, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Many of us are still living our lives trying to come to grips with what this really means in our daily, moment by moment lives. Many of us are still clinging to the attachments and distractions of this world, trying to figure out how to let the Holy Spirit empower us, to let Him control our desires, our temptations, our hopes, our dreams. We’re still finding it too easy to succumb to the worldly temptations, to give in to the lusts of the flesh, to ignore His Word, to mute His voice, to diminish His influence in our behavior, thoughts and actions.
But bear in mind, God is acting on us all. And while He loves us and wants to give us the very best His creation has to offer, He ultimately has the holiness of His name to protect when it has been profaned with such abuse and excess day in and day out since the Fall so many thousands of years ago. He promises to restore all things. He promises to bring His remnant through all the bad times. But through it all He promises that in doing so “they will know that I am the Lord.” Yes, this phrase “They will know that I am the Lord” is such a vital message that is occurs 26 times in the book of Ezekiel and no where else. It is a declaration to Israel and to the rest of the nations. The world has forgotten Who it was who created them, Who gave them life, from Whom are all things. And Who is holy. But He has promised – they are soon going to remember!
Here is the section in its entirety. It is especially pertinent to Believers today.
Eze 36:21 “But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went.
Eze 36:22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.
Eze 36:23 “I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.
Eze 36:24 “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.
Eze 36:25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
Eze 36:26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Eze 36:27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
Eze 36:28 “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.
Eze 36:29 “Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.
Eze 36:30 “I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations.
Eze 36:31 “Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations.
Eze 36:32 “I am not doing this for your sake,” declares the Lord GOD, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!”
Compare with Isaiah 44:3 and Joel 2:28.
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]