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Ezekiel 33:21 – 36:38

08.30.2010

One of the big themes of this passage, particularly chapter 36, is that God acts for His name’s sake.  It was for His name’s sake that He punished the Israelites, and it will be for His name’s sake that He redeems them.

One question I remember wrestling with early on in my faith is whether it’s right to consider God arrogant.  This seems off to us, this vision of a God that demands praise and that nothing/no one be put above Him.  In humans, this is considered a sign of insecurity.  How is this not the case for God?

I think the difference is in the difference, so to speak.  When I first came to terms with it, the reason was that God was worthy of praise and we were not.  God is claiming what is rightfully His, while an arrogant person would be claiming more than his due.  The injustice in this latter situation is what makes it seem so distasteful.

I think this explanation still holds, but having thought a lot recently on the definition of sin as being unable/unwilling to see things for their true nature, I appreciate this truth more now.  In other words, sin is when we do not recognize what is good and what is bad, when we choose the cheap, low, unsatisfying, destructive path instead of the rich, clean, fulfilling one.  When God demands that we recognize who He is, it is essentially a demand for us to choose that which is better for us over that which is worse, in every way.

In this way, God’s name, his reputation, is tied up in who He is.  And who He is is all those attributes we love to recite: justice, righteousness, love, hope, joy, peace, etc.  When we glorify God’s name, we attest to the world about the true heirarchy of things (good over bad, etc.).  When we profane His name, we essentially make a case for that which is not only false, but destructively so (bad over good). 

When the Israelites persisted in their idolotry and sin, they profaned God’s name, since they were widely known to be His people.  God’s act of punishment thus reestablished the proper relationship between good and bad.  God also restored His people to demonstrate His grace and mercy and love and faithfulness.  The central fact of all creation is Who God is.  It’s no surprise, then, that His actions will center around preserving and promoting that knowledge of His character and His name.

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