March 8, 2012 Leave a comment
This morning I was reading Ezekiel 36 in which we are given a very early glimpse of the New Covenant (‘…I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you…’ vv26-27). This is in the midst of the promises given to Israel (at this time in exile):
I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land…
Ezekiel 36:24 ESV
But we may wonder why God would do this for His people.
Is it because they deserved it? Certainly not; in fact nothing about the nation itself merited God’s favour. This is self-evident in that the nation is in exile due to its unfaithfulness to God. In fact, this point is emphasised when we have a description of why God chose (or did not choose) His people:
It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 7:7-8 ESV
That’s human merit ruled out. So it must be because God loves His people. The verse just quoted shows this to be a truth, but the reasons given in Ezekiel 36 for God’s promise to His people is not His love. It’s this:
It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name…I will vindicate the holiness of my great name…the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes
Ezekiel 36:22-23 ESV
This is a key principle, especially today, because we can very easily become very self-centred (yes, I know that’s hard to imagine amongst Christians!). That is not to doubt for a second that God loves His people and that it is a motivation in His goodness and love towards them, but even greater than the motivation of love is the motivation is the glory and honour of His name – of Himself. This is why when Paul gives his glorious description of what it means to be ‘blessed in Christ with all spiritual blessing in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 1:3-14) he has to pause on three occasions and tell us the motive:
…to the praise of his glorious grace…that we…might be to the praise of his glory…to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14 ESV
Everything God does is for His own glory. The reason why He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die and bear the penalty of the sins of those who trust in and follow Him was, yes, out of love for sinners; but was primarily to bring glory to Himself. If you are a Christian, the remarkable thing is that despite your failings and flaws you can be an instrument by which God is glorified. Perhaps this offers us not only an encouragement to live lives which are honouring to God who saves us, but also gives us a lens through which we can view life in perfect perspective – the perspective that realises God is working all things to His glory.