For the Honor Of His Name.
“…for I acted to protect the honor of my name. I would not allow any shame to be brought on my name among the surrounding nations who saw me reveal myself by bringing the Israelites out of Egypt.” – Ezekiel 20:9 NLT
What’s in a name? In regards to God, everything. His name represents who He is. It encompasses His character and nature. His name isn’t just a label or designation to help differentiate Him from something or someone similar. It is His essence. And as the chosen children of God, the people of Israel were to help set apart His name by living lives that were distinctly different from that nations around them. But in this chapter, God instructs Ezekiel to remind the people of their repeated rejection of Him over the years since He delivered them from Egypt. Over and over again, God says, “But they rebelled…” God had made a solemn oath to deliver them from captivity and give them the Promised Land. In return, He had asked them to get rid of their idols and worship Him alone. But they couldn’t do it. They repeatedly rebelled and refused to obey His law – all throughout their years in the wilderness and even after they arrived in the Promised Land. So God was forced to punish them for their rebellion. He would have been absolutely just in wiping them out completely, but instead, He showed them grace and mercy – all to protect the integrity of His name. He was going to do what He said He would do. He was going to keep His covenant promise to them. He had promised them the land and He was going to give it to them – in spite their unfaithfulness and rebellion. God’s name and His character was at stake. If He would have failed to bring the people of Israel into the Promised Land, the nations would have questioned His integrity. They would have doubted His power. They would have never have seen His holiness or set-apartness – those characteristics about Him that made Him distinct from any other god.
Over the years, the people of God had brought shame on His name. They had been set apart by God as distinct and holy. They were His possession and were to live like it. That is why He gave them the Law. That is why He provided the sacrificial system. Unlike all the other nations, the Israelites were to worship Him and Him alone. But they had failed to do so, and as a result, they had defiled His name. And while God would have been completely justified in destroying them, He had to keep His promises because His name was at stake. He is the covenant-keeping God. If He failed to keep His promise, He would prove Himself either untrustworthy or incapable of doing what He had promised. So when the people failed to honor God’s name, He did it Himself. He protected the integrity of His name. He punished justly, spared them graciously, and continually extended mercy – refusing the wipe them out completely, all because of His name.
Over in Romans 2:4, Paul reminds us, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” God’s interactions with Israel were always based on His character, not theirs. And the same is true in our day. God continues to shower us with mercy and grace, because that is His character. He is a holy God who must punish sin, and He did, by sacrificing His own Son on the cross in our place. He can only allow those who are righteous into His presence, so He exchanged our unrighteousness with the righteousness of Christ. Christ took on our sin and we took on His righteousness. So we stand before God as holy. Everything God has done and will do reflects His character and His name. “You will know that I am the Lord, O people of Israel, when I have honored my name by treating you mercifully in spite of your wickedness. I, the sovereign Lord, have spoken!” (Ezekiel 20:44 NLT).
Father, Your name is great and while I tend to ignore it, demean it, and take it in vain by the way I live my life, You are constantly living up to Your name. It is Your reputation and character. It is who You are. And I am grateful that You live up to Your standards. You never change. You never fail to be who You are. You never step out of character. And because You honor Your name, I can stand before You and honor You as well. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men