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Choose This, Not That

The Bible Reading Club: Choose This, Not That – Shame upon His name (Ezekiel 36:20-21)

Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 36-39

Today’s Reflection: Ezekiel 36:20-21

20) But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ 21) But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.

Throughout the bible, God takes great pleasure in praising His loyal servants.  He called David a man after His own heart, one who would do His will (Acts 13:22).  He called Noah a righteous man, blameless in his generation, one who walked faithfully with Him (Genesis 6:9).  And when Satan attempted to condemn all mankind, God replied, “have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (Job 1:8).  These people honoured God and glorified His name by reflecting the truth of who God is through their lives.

But what about those who claim God, but are disloyal through their actions?  Those who proclaim their own righteousness while breaking God’s covenantal promises?  Those who condemn others for their sins while hiding their own?  These don’t glorify God.  In fact they do the opposite.  They tarnish the name of the Lord.  They bring shame upon God.  People who don’t know God but observe the behaviour of those who claim to be His peope will speculate about the God they serve.  They will conclude that the actions of these believers are a reflection of the God they believe in.  If their actions are unjust, greedy and hypocritical, then the God they serve must be unjust, greedy and hypocritical as well.

Romans 2:23-24 – 23) You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24) For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

But far more than just being untrue, this misunderstanding prevents God from His ultimate purpose: offering salvation to all peoples.  He must preserve the integrity of His name, not for His own ego, but for the sake of mankind.

Matthew 12:18, 21 – 18) Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.  21) And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. (KJV)

Therefore God must defend His name from the people who would abuse it.  Who call themselves of God, but live lives completely contrary to the ways of God.  Who attempt to use His authority to fulfill their own selfish desires.  To the world observing, God has to identify those disloyal to Him.  Through His judgments against them God says to the world: these people are not after my heart, these are not righteous or blameless, these so-called servants are not worth considering, except as a warning sign.

1 Kings 9:6-9 – 6) But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7) then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 8) And this house will become a heap of ruins.  Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ 9) Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the LORD has brought all this disaster on them.'”

Ask yourself today, which group do you fall into: those who glorify God’s name, or those who bring shame upon it?  If you claim God as Lord of your life you will be an example to the world: either an example of faithfulness worthy of being imitated, or as a cautionary tale—a proverb and a byword—to be avoided at all costs.

Hebrews 11:16 – But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.



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