So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in Egypt. But 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.…
Yet the people of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and destroy them in the wilderness. But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out….
‘But the children rebelled against me… So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness. But I withheld my hand, and for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. (Selections from Ezekiel 20)
For the sake of His name, God did not destroy the Israelites, even when they deserved it. He would not have the nations see him as wishy-washy or weak. He was and is the Holy Almighty One, and he must be considered such. All glory is due to Him, and Him alone.
Do not profane my holy name, for I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the LORD, who made you holy (Lev 22:32)
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another. (Isa 48:11)
God orchestrated His will throughout time so that the Israelites and all nations would know Him and exalt Him. See how the chapter of Ezekiel 20 ends:
Go and serve your idols, every one of you! But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name with your gifts and idols. For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord, there in the land all the people of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them…and I will be proved holy through you in the sight of the nations…You will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices.” (Eze 20:29-30)
Then look at all of these passages that foretell how God’s name will be known and glorified throughout the whole earth.
All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. (Ps 86:9)
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Ps 46:10)
The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. (Is 2:11)
…for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. Isa 11:10
From the west, people will fear the name of the LORD, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. (Isa 59:19)
Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder. (Zeph 3:9)
Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Rev 15:14)
And how do we glorify God’s name? How did Jesus glorify God’s name? He died, and because of his death and resurrection, the Good News was spread to people throughout the world.
Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” John 12:27-28
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32
Last night we had a time of honoring at church. We all shared stories of how someone had encouraged us by serving. And I thought, “It may seem like people are being glorified here, but it is actually God.” God’s name was being exalted, because it was due to him that we all were serving.
As I was praying yesterday, I was thinking about the first part of what Jesus said here in John 12, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” As I have written before, I get hung up on performance and accomplishment. But I realized that the most useful thing I can accomplish for God is to die. Like a dead animal buried as fertilizer, my death to self will help God’s work to progress far more than my self motivated efforts. As Paul said, “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (I Cor 3:7)
God’s name can be glorified by our deeds of service to him. But even more, He is glorified by His deeds that we have nothing physically to do with. “A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” (Mark 4:27)
And I am so glad that it isn’t up to me to establish God’s glory for the world to see, although I do want to do my part. Indeed, I may be more like the Israelites, reliant on God’s mercy that He will not destroy them for the sake of His name! But I must be utterly reverent. My life should be much more about praising and thanking Him, and bringing Him praise. It’s not up to me to prove anything, I just need to exalt Him.
However, my life can show that God is real. This month’s Reader’s Digest lists the 100 most trusted people today. They are all famous individuals. But just being famous doesn’t make you trustworthy. Those who are philanthropists, known for giving, are the ones who were named most trusted. People are influenced by what they see in someone’s life. They will be influenced by what they see in my life as well.
I exalt God in my heart, and this causes me to exalt him in deed.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15)