Tuesday, June 9, 2009

For the Sake of God's Name

Ezekiel leaves little doubt that the Israelites are a rebellious people.

In Ezekiel 20 he outlines a number of ways Israel rebelled against the Lord:
  • The Exodus generation refused to get rid of their idols in Egypt (Eze 20:7-8)
  • They rejected God's laws and desecrated His Sabbaths (Eze 20:13, 16)
  • The next generation (in the Wilderness) also rejected God's laws, desecrated His Sabbaths, committed idolatry and practiced child sacrifice (Eze 20:21, 24, 26)
  • Once they entered the Land, they continued to practice idolatry, child sacrifice and wanted to be like the nations around them (Eze 20:27-32)
They did this despite God's incredible generosity to them. He chose them, revealed Himself to them, redeemed them, gave them His Laws, the sign of the Sabbath and the Land. Despite all this, they continually rebelled against Him. They preferred their sin to God.

Before you read further, ask yourself, "Am I so different?" If you are a Christian God has chosen you, redeemed you, put His Law on your heart, given you His Holy Spirit and promised you a place in Heaven. Have you responded with whole-hearted devotion, or are you imitating the Israelites in their sin?

Now, what is God's response to this rebellion? Over and over again, He showed mercy.

He did bring judgment in the form of not allowing the initial generation into the Land (Eze 20:15). He judged the subsequent generations by removing them from the Land (Eze 20:23, 34). This judgment was severe, devestating and total. (Eze 20:45-21:32)

But, the dominant note is not judgment but mercy. He still brought rebellious Israel out of Egypt. He still gave them His Law. He still brought the rebellious wilderness generation into the Land. He will restore His rebellious people to the Land.

Why? Why does God act in mercy to a rebellious people? The answer occurs over and over again in Ezekiel -- so that Israel and the nations might know that He is God and for the sake of His name (Eze 20:9, 12, 14, 20, 22)

Don't forget to praise God today for His persistent mercy for the sake of His own name.

In Christ
Pastor Mike