READING: Ezekiel 18-20
God is gracious, and that truth has nothing to do with us. In fact, He shows His graciousness in spite of us.
When the Hebrews turned to false gods in Egypt, God was ready to pour out His wrath on them — but, He said to Ezekiel, “for the sake of my name, I brought them out of Egypt. I did it to keep my name from being profaned in the eyes of the nations among whom they lived and in whose sight I had revealed myself to the Israelites” (Ezek 20:9). Later, He was ready to destroy them in their rebellion in the wilderness, but again, “for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in who sight I had brought them out” (Ezek 20:14). The people still rebelled, yet God again said, “But I withheld my hand, and for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned” (Ezek 20:22).
God was patient with His people not because they were deserving, but because of His own reputation. He is a gracious God, forgiving and loving while also maintaining His holiness. He is long-suffering, extending grace toward us much longer than we would likely extend grace to one another. He would keep His hand on His own — even judging them severely to bring them back to Himself — so His name would not be sullied among the nations. He would, in fact, eventually bring His people back from exile to show Himself to the world: “I will . . . gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will be proved holy through you in the sight of the nations” (Ezek 20:41).
You see, our security in Christ rests in Him, in His name, in His reputation, in His desire to reveal His character to the nations — not in us. Even when He judges us as His children, He does it justly because He’s just. He does it lovingly because He’s love. He does it redemptively because He’s a redeemer God. We, like the Hebrews, may “want to be like all the nations” (Ezek 20:32), but our God is quite unlike all the false gods of the nations. They are “wood and stone” made by human hands (Ezek 20:32), but He is the uncreated eternal One. The false gods sit on a shelf, but He resides in our hearts.
And, He is so jealous for His glory that He keeps His hand on us as His children. For the sake of His name, He does not let us go.
- You and I carry the name “Christian.” Evaluate whether you bear that name in a way that honors the Lord.
- Thank God for the number of times He has held on to you for His name’s sake, despite your turning away from Him.
PRAYER: “God, honor Your name through my life today.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Ezekiel 21-22