READING: Ezekiel 35-37
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: It’s easy to think today about all the blessings God has given me. Salvation. My wife. A home. A job. Health. Opportunities. Food. Shelter. Grace. Love. Forgiveness. The Holy Spirit. I could go on and on. You could, too, I suspect.
But, today’s reading forces me to “re-think my thinking.” In Ezekiel 35, God again announced judgment on the nations, focusing on Edom. He would judge them because they had treated God’s people poorly (Ezek. 35:5-9). More specifically, though, He would bring judgment on them so they would know that He is Yahweh.
Ezek. 35:9 I will make you a perpetual desolation; your cities will not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am Yahweh.
In Ezekiel 36, God painted a dramatic picture of His restoring His people to their land after their own judgment had ended. He would turn toward them and make them fruitful (Ezek. 36:8-10). In fact, He would make their situation better than it had been before, almost as if it were Eden-like (Ezek. 36:11).
But, here’s what catches my attention today: God did not restore His people for their sake. He would restore them for the sake of His holy name. Read the words for yourself:
Ezek. 36:22-23 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 Yahweh”—the declaration of the Lord God—“when I demonstrate My holiness through you in their sight.”
God would do so much for them (Ezek. 36:24-30). Yes, He would cleanse them. Yes, He would give them a new heart and a new spirit. Yes, He would lead them to follow His ordinances. Yes, He would make them fruitful. But, He would not do these things for their sake. He would make them holy so the nations would know His name.
In fact, His own people would remember just how unworthy they were:
Ezek. 36:31-32 “Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and detestable practices. It is not for your sake that I will act”—the declaration of the Lord God—“let this be known to you. Be ashamed and humiliated because of your ways, house of Israel!”
You see, God’s people were only sinful idolaters, a bunch of dry bones incapable of bringing life to themselves (Ezek. 37). God would indeed restore them, but not for their sake. Instead, He would restore them because of His desire to make His holy name known among the nations.
Ezek. 37:27-28 “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be My people. When My sanctuary is among them forever, the nations will know that I, Yahweh, sanctify Israel.”
So, what am I reminded of today? God saved me so others would know Him. My salvation is not about me. Period.
PRAYER: “Thank You, God, for saving me. Thank You for reaching down to me, a sinner. Forgive me when I make my salvation about me. Burden me for the nations you so love.”
TOMORROW¹S READING: Ezekiel 38-39