“Therefore, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Lord God says: It is not for your sake that I will act, house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you profaned among the nations where you went. I will honor the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations—the name you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am the Lord—this is the declaration of the Lord God—when I demonstrate my holiness through you in their sight.
“‘For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave your fathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will summon the grain and make it plentiful, and I will not bring famine on you. I will also make the fruit of the trees and the produce of the field plentiful, so that you will no longer experience reproach among the nations on account of famine.”
There are certain names that just carry a reputation with them. Hilter, Stalin, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr. are a few examples we can think of. Whether it is for good or evil, someone’s name becomes easily associated with their reputation.
In this section of Ezekial 36, God addresses the way the Israelites had brought dishonor to His name. They had said and done much to bring a bad reputation to His name. His desire had been for Israel to be a blessing to all nations and an example for all of what a covenant relationship with Him could look like, yet they chose to disregard that and bring disgrace to Yahweh’s name. Still, God would not give up on His covenant with their ancestor, Abraham. He would be faithful to His covenant even if Israel wasn’t. His desire was for all people groups to know His goodness and He was going to make sure that this was done. Therefore, He planned to restore the land He had promised Israel back to them in order to bring honor to His own name. He then promised to place His Spirit within them to give them hearts that were inclined to live according to His ways.
Today it is the collective image of Jesus followers (a.k.a. “the Church”) that brings honor or disgrace to God’s name. How we chose to act as a community of believers honors or dishonors His name. God’s desire is for us to be a community of people that represent Him well to a watching world. Sometimes, though, we fall short of that call (in the U.S.A., at least). Often, we let the influences of our culture and our fears to have a greater say than the priorities of Jesus and thus dishonor His name. In those times, God will allow us to experience the consequences of our actions. It may be a loss of influence in society or political power. It may be the decline of a prominent leader. Whatever the circumstance of our decline within the eyes of the world, it is ultimately about our unwillingness to make His name honorable before others. In those times, God calls us back to His purposes so that we will be the people that represent Him well to the world around us.
- Jesus, help us to be the people that bring honor to Your name in the presence of a watching world.