Ezekiel: When We Ruin God’s Reputation

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Ezekiel 36:16-21

God called Israel to be His own special people. He had set them up as a “light to the nations”, to be a living example of God’s people. He longed for the whole world to see them and understand what a great and loving God He was.

Instead, Israel’s sin had “profaned His holy name” among the nations (Ezekiel 36:20). They had given God a bad reputation. They had shamed Him. Their sinful ways and their public idolatry had given Him a bad name among nations who knew nothing else about Him but what they saw in their neighbor, Israel.

Their sinfulness finally forced God to punish them in a very public way. He handed them over to their enemies and sent them into exile – the northern kingdom of Israel around 722 B.C., and the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C. Of course, by this forced discipline, the Jews had made God’s reputation even worse. Their failure made God appear cruel and impossible.

But God’s deep, burning love never gives up on His gracious purpose. He loved both His covenant people, Israel, and all the other nations who had been given a negative opinion of Him. So what did He do? He announced that He would act dramatically, in a brand new way:

“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…Then the nations will know that I am the Lord…when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.” (Ezekiel 36:22-23, NASB)

His people had failed to show the world how holy and loving He is. So would God withdraw His blessings, His presence, and His salvation from His undeserving people? No. God’s overall purpose is always driving toward salvation, never away from it. He would make His salvation even greater and more gracious.

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