“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 the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.” (Ezekiel 36:22-23)
Israel’s sin and rebellion against God is described as profaning God’s name. They have maligned and caused disrepute to God’s name. Because of their abominable deeds, the nations have not known God as great, glorious, just, and trustworthy. They thought of him as one tribal deity who was no match against their multitude of gods. The Lord punished Israel but promised to bring them back to himself and to faith and obedience.
Yes, God has compassion on them. That is why he will restore them and reconcile them to himself and promised to give his Spirit so that they will be cleansed and have a new heart. But God’s compassion for them is not God’s primary motivation (“It is not for your sake…”).
His primary motivation for doing what he promised to Israel was his passion for his own glory; his name and reputation is at stake (“for the sake of my holy name”). The “holiness” of God’s name is his being separate from all his creation and the so-called gods of the nations. God is passionate for people to see him as unimaginably great and glorious. Israel’s actions betrayed God’s holiness. They trampled on his name. God will not let that for long. “I will vindicate the holiness of my great name.” God will show to Israel and to the rest of the world who he really is.
That is God’s passion then; it still is.
We must have a God-centered view of sin and salvation. Sin is more than just a human mistake; it is a reproach to God’s great and holy name. Whenever we sin, we belittle God.
Salvation is God’s work of rescuing us from sin. Yes, he loves us. But he loves himself first. God’s love and passion for his name is the rock-solid foundation for our salvation. Our salvation is secured because God promised to act for his name’s sake.
We are saved and sanctified so that we will grow in that same passion to think and act for the sake of his name always (1 Cor. 10:31).
“Father, make me as utterly God-centered as you are. Forgive me for bringing disrepute to your name whenever I disobey your commands. Continue to transform my heart so that I will do everything not primarily for my sake, not for my family’s sake, not for other people’s sake, not for my church’s sake, but only for the sake of your great and holy name. I know that you will do it, Lord, because you are passionate to make your name great in my life and in the lives of other people around me. In your Son’s name I pray, Amen.”