When I read scripture sometimes I imagine how the passages may sound to an outsider. I then challenge myself to figure out an explanation as to what the context is.
Ezikiel 36: 22-23 “Therefore, tell Israel, ‘Message of God, the Master: I’m not doing this for you, Israel. I’m doing it for me, to save my character, my holy name, which you’ve blackened in every country where you’ve gone. I’m going to put my great and holy name on display, the name that has been ruined in so many countries, the name that you blackened wherever you went. Then the nations will realize who I really am, that I am God, when I show my holiness through you so that they can see it with their own eyes.
When the translation quotes God’s messages as “I’m not doing this for you, I’m doing this for me!”, I can’t help but feel like:”Shesh God! That’s a little selfish!”
Of course I know the context, Israel was doing terrible evil and that evil was becoming associated woth God. The thing is the integrity of a name is important especially for God. If we as Christians give God a bad name by the way they live that keeps people from Him. If people are kept away from God, that’s life giving spirit, love and salvation they now won’t receive. Ezikiel addresses this in the next verses:
24-28 “‘For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!
God could have left Israel where they were. I mean they had soiled his name, and I bet to some degree made God seem like a joke to other nations. But God lays out a promise after His rebuke: here’s how I’m going to fix it, I will give you new hearts.
I can’t help but reflect, are there things I’m doing now that soil God’s name? Despite my actions God still set up a rescue plan, He still gives his spirit freely and lovingly. I pray we all lift God’s name high where it belongs and help those around us see Him for who He really is.