I will show the holiness of My great name, which has been profaned among the nations--the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when I show My holiness in you before their eyes.
I. THE ISRAELITES HAVE PROFANED GOD'S NAME AMONG THE HEATHEN. They are universally known as the people of Jehovah. When exiled from their land, they are the objects of derision and contempt to the heathen who behold them, and who, despising them, despise also the Name of Jehovah.
II. THE LORD IS MOVED WITH PITY FOR HIS OWN NAME. The language, nay, the very thought, is remarkably bold. But especially as it is repeated, it must be taken as deliberate and intentional, and as corresponding with a wonderful and Divine, though but partially comprehensible, reality. His Name, his reputation, even among the heathen, is dear to him, and he deigns to be concerned when men speak lightly of his Name and blaspheme him openly. In human language, he is distressed at the evil things which are said of him among the enemies of his people.
III. THE PURPOSES OF GOD'S MERCY ARE NOT PROMPTED BY ANY DESERTS OF ISRAEL. "I do not this for your sake, O house of Israel." This is a principle which should ever be borne in mind in interpreting Old Testament history. The Hebrew writers are faithful, candid, and outspoken in describing the national character, in relating the actions of their countrymen. They were a rebellious and stiff-necked people. They had their good qualities, but their many and grievous sins are not extenuated. If God chose them as his peculiar people, it was not for any special excellence or meritorious ness in themselves. And when he restored them from captivity, he let it be understood that he did this not from a regard to their deserts.
IV. GOD'S PURPOSES OF MERCY TO ISRAEL ARE PROMPTED BY A REGARD TO HIS OWN NAME. He had made certain promises to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and those promises he must needs fulfill. He has intentions of mercy to mankind to be realized by means of the "children of promise," and he will not allow those intentions to be frustrated. He has his own faithfulness to vindicate, his own moral attributes to manifest. By his Name must be understood his character, especially as known among men; and, this being the case, it is not difficult to comprehend the meaning of "having pity on his holy Name."
V. PITY BECOMES PRACTICAL IN THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL TO THEIR OWN LAND, BY WHICH GOD'S NAME IS SANCTIFIED. There is dignity and even moral grandeur in the resolution which is expressed in this passage; it is felt to be worthy of him in whose lips it is placed by the prophet. When the great work of restoration is achieved, the nations who behold it see that the taunts and ridicule in which they have indulged are both foolish and blamable. Israel is proved to be the consecrated nation, preserved by God's wisdom and goodness as the instrument in effecting his purposes. The Lord God is seen to be, not powerless like the so-called gods of the nations, but omnipotent and just. His promises are vindicated as faithful. "I will sanctify my great Name and the nations shall know that I am the Lord." - T.
I will sanctify My great name.
I. THAT GOD MIGHT HAVE VINDICATED HIS HONOUR AND SANCTIFIED HIS NAME IN OUR DESTRUCTION. Two methods of glorifying His name are open to God. He is free to choose either; but by the one or the other way He will exact His full tale of glory from every man. In Egypt, for instance, He was glorified in the high-handed destruction of His enemies; and glorified also in the same land by the high-handed salvation of His people. In the one case He proved how strong His arm was to smite, and in the other how strong it was to save. In like manner God sanctified His name on the plains of Sodom, sanctifying it, on the one hand, in the destruction of His enemies, and on the other, in the preservation of Lot. Since there are two ways open to God, by either of which He may sanctify His great name, He might therefore, at the fall, have vindicated His justice by swift and unsparing vengeance, by destroying the whole human family. What unsparing vengeance did He execute on the fallen angels! Of these there was no wreck or remnant saved. Not one escaped. No ark floated on the waters to which, like Noah's dove, a flying angel, pursued by wrath, might turn his weary wing. Can it be doubted that the measure meted out to fallen angels, God might have meted out to fallen men? — sanctifying His great name in our ruin rather than in our redemption. Now, before I show how He sanctifies Himself in the redemption of His people, let me warn you, that what God might have done with all, He shall do with some; certainly do with all those who despise and reject, or even neglect salvation. This day I set before you life and death. Will you do His will in heaven, or suffer it in hell?
II. GOD SANCTIFIES HIS NAME AND GLORIFIES HIMSELF IN OUR REDEMPTION. It is easy to destroy, to inflict irreparable injury on character, virtue, life. Falling with murderous strokes on yonder noble tree, the woodman's axe demolishes in a few hours what it has required the springs and summers, the dews and showers and sunbeams of centuries to raise. It is both more difficult and more noble to repair than to destroy. In this material body man destroys what God only can make; but in this more precious and immortal soul, Satan destroys what God only can save. It needs but a devil to ruin a human spirit; it needs Divinity to redeem it. Excepting, of course, the preacher's — for with Paul we magnify our office — of all earthly employments it appears to me that the physician's is the noblest; and that of all arts the healing art is the highest, offering to genius and benevolence their noblest field. In the eye of reason, and of a humanity that weeps over a suffering world, his is surely the nobler vocation, and if not more honoured, the more honourable calling, who sheds blood not to kill, but cure; who wounds, not that the bleeding may die, but live; and whose genius ransacks earth and ocean in search of means to preserve life, to remove deformity, to repair decay, to invigorate failing powers, and restore the rose of health to pallid cheeks. His aim is not to inflict pain, but relieve it; not to destroy a father, but, boldly standing between him and death, to save an anxious wife from widowhood, and these little children from an orphan's lot. And if, although they be woven around no coronet, those are fairer and fresher laurels which are won by saving than by slaying, if it is a nobler thing to rescue life than destroy it, even when its destruction is an act of justice, then, on the same principle, God most glorified Himself when revealed in the flesh, and, speaking by His Son, He descended on a guilty world; His purpose this, I came not to judge the world, but to save it; and this His character, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.
I. HIS POWER IS GLORIFIED IN THE WORK OF SALVATION. The path of redemption is marked, and its pages are crowded with stupendous miracles. At one time God stays the waves of the sea; at another He stops the wheels of the sun; and now, reversing the machinery of heaven to confirm His Word, He makes the shadow travel backwards on the dial of Ahaz. Heaven descends to earth, and its exalted inhabitants, mingling with men, walk the stage of redemption. But to glance at the change wrought by redemption on man himself, what amazing power does it display! What a glorious combination of benevolence and omnipotence! Punishment is confessedly easier than reformation. Nothing is more easy than, by the hand of an executioner, to rid society of a criminal; but to soften his stony heart, to turn his steps from the paths of crime, to wean him from vice, to get him to fall in love with virtue, to make the cunning rogue, the brutal ruffian, an honest, high-minded, kind, and tender man — ah! that is another thing. Hence, among politicians callous of heart, and deaf to the groans of suffering humanity, the preference given to prisons over schools, to punishment over prevention. Well, then, since it is confessedly easier — easier, but not better, nor cheaper — to punish than reform, I say that God's power is more illustriously displayed in pardoning one guilty, in purifying one polluted man, than if the law had been left to take her sternest course, and bury our entire family in the ruins of the fall. The power of divinity culminates in grace. Oh, that we also may be made its monuments, built up by the hands of an eternal Spirit to the memory and glory of the Cross!
II. HIS WISDOM IS GLORIFIED IN REDEMPTION. That work associates such transcendent wisdom with love, power, and mercy that the Saviour of man is called the wisdom of God. The apostle selects the definite article, and pronounces Christ to be "the power of God and the wisdom of God." Nor can the propriety of the language be doubted, if we reflect but for a moment on what a hard task Wisdom was set, what a difficult problem she was called to solve, when man was to be saved. She had to forge a key that could unlock the grave; she had to build a lifeboat that could swim in a sea of fire; he had to construct a ladder long enough to scale the skies; she had to invent a plan whereby justice might be fully satisfied, and yet the guilty saved. The mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, a "daysman" such as the patriarch desired, with the right hand of divinity to lay on God, and the left hand of humanity to lay on man, and thus the "fellow" and friend of both, to reconcile the estranged; in short, a man to suffer and a God to satisfy, this was a thought which it never entered the noblest minds to conceive. We find nothing corresponding to it, nor guess nor glimmering of it, in the creeds and religions of a heathen world. Every way but the right one was thought of.
III. HIS HOLINESS IS GLORIFIED IN REDEMPTION. What saith the prophet? Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity. Nothing might appear more strongly to express the holiness of God than this language, Thou canst not look on iniquity; and yet His hatred of sin is more fully illustrated, and much more strongly expressed by the very way in which He saves the sinner; more fully expressed than if, relentless, executing vengeance with an eye that knew no pity, and with a hand that would not spare, He had made an utter end of sinners; such an end that, to borrow the language of the prophet, there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped. What man, being a father, has not felt this on reading the story of the Roman who pronounced sentence of death upon his own son? Had that sternest of patriots condemned common criminals enough to make the scaffolds of justice and the gutters of Rome run red with blood, such wholesale slaughter had been a feeble expression of his abhorrence of crime compared with the death of this solitary youth. When the culprit, his own child, the infant he had carried in his arms, the once sweet and beautiful boy who had wound himself round a father's heart, rose to receive the immolating sentence at a father's lips, that man offered the greatest, costliest sacrifice ever made at the shrine of justice, and earned for Roman virtue a proverbial fame. But that is nothing to the spectacle which redemption offers. The Son of God dies beneath His Father's hand. Innocence bleed for guilt; Divine innocence for human guilt.
IV. HIS JUSTICE IS GLORIFIED IN REDEMPTION. The prophet, addressing God, says, Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil; but then, as one perplexed, unable to reconcile the attributes of God's character with the dealings of His Providence, he asks, Wherefore lookest Thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest Thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? This question implies that clouds and darkness are round about Jehovah's throne. Still, whatever mysterious shadow present events may seem to cast upon His justice, and to whatever trial, as in the wrongs of a Joseph or David, faith may be put, in believing that there is a just God upon earth, His justice appears as conspicuous in redemption as was the Cross, which illustrated that justice to the crowd on Calvary. Sinners, indeed, are pardoned, but then, their sins are punished; the guilty are acquitted, but then, their guilt is condemned; the sinner lives, but then, the surety dies; the debtor is discharged, but not till the debt is paid.
V. HIS MERCY IS GLORIFIED IN REDEMPTION. To do justice to God, to the Saviour, and to our subject, we must be careful to distinguish between pity and mercy. The poor old man, into whose trembling hand you drop your alms as he begs his way onward to a grave, where, his head sheltered beneath the sod, he shall feel neither cold nor hunger, appeals to your compassion, not to your mercy. He has done you no wrong. He has not stolen your goods, nor traduced your character, nor inflicted injury on your person, nor in any way whatever disturbed your peace; and so it is only pity that walks forth in the charity which shares its bread with the hungry, and spares a corner of an ample cloak to cover the nakedness of the poor. Mercy is a higher attribute; an act of mercy is a far nobler achievement. She sits enthroned among the Graces. On her heavenly wings man rises to his loftiest elevation, makes his nearest approach and closest similitude to God. This distinction between compassion and mercy is clearly enunciated in the sacred Scriptures. We are told that like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him; bat the Lord is merciful to them that fear Him not. He so loved the world as to give up His Son to die for it; but more than that, He commended His love to us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We pity simple suffering; but let pity and love be extended to guilty suffering, and you have now the very element and heavenly essence of mercy. Mercy is the forgiveness of an injury. Pity relieves a sufferer, but mercy pardons a sinner. Now, understanding mercy to be the forgiveness of a wrong, the pardon of a sinner, the kindness of the injured to the injurer, where, I ask, as in redemption, where but in redemption, is this crowning attribute of the Godhead to be seen?
VI. IN REDEMPTION, GOD IS GLORIFIED IN THE COMPLETE DISCOMFITURE OF ALL HIS AND OUR ENEMIES.
1. He is glorified by Satan's defeat. Observe yonder skilful wrestler! He embraces his antagonist, and, lifting him from the ground with the power of an athlete, he holds him aloft. Ah! he raises, but to dash him back on the earth with a heavier fall. So fared it with the Evil One. God permits him to push on his sap and mine, to scale the walls, to carry the citadel by assault, and plant for a time his defiant standard on the battlements of this world, just that from his, proud eminence He may hurl Satan into a deeper hell; and, angels rejoicing in man's salvation, and devils discomfited in their leader's defeat, both friends and foes might be constrained to say, Hast thou an arm like God, or canst thou thunder with a voice like His!
2. While God is glorified by Satan's defeat, He is glorified also by the very time and manner of it. Here are no marks of haste. Not for four days, nor even four years, but for the long-drawn out period of four thousand years, Satan holds all but undisturbed possession of his conquest. God leaves the invader ample time to entrench himself; to found, to strengthen, to establish, to extend his kingdom. And why? bat that a Redeemer's power might appear the more triumphant in its ignominious, and more complete in its total overthrow.
3. God is not only glorified in Satan's defeat, and also in the time and manner of it, but preeminently glorified in the instrument of it. Man falls; the world is lost; Satan triumphs. And how does God pluck the victory from his hands? He might have hurled thunderbolts at his audacious head. Summoning the forces of heaven, He might have overwhelmed this enemy, and borne him back to hell by legions of embattled angels. Not thus is the Prince of Darkness defeated. He is met and mastered by a solitary man. Out of the mouth of a babe and suckling God ordaineth strength, and by the heel of a man of sorrows He crushes the Serpent's head. A son of man is the saviour of his race; a brother rises up in the house of exile to redeem his brethren; a conqueror is born in the conquered family. Never was tide of battle so strangely, completely, triumphantly turned.
( T. Guthrie, D. D.)
PlacesEdom, Jerusalem, Mount Seir, Tigris-Euphrates Region
TopicsAffirmation, Clear, Declares, Hallow, Hallowed, Heathen, Holiness, Holy, Midst, Myself, Nations, Polluted, Profaned, Prove, Sanctified, Sanctify, Says, Sight, Sovereign, Unclean, Vindicate
Outline1. The land of Israel is comforted, by destruction of the heathen, who spitefully used it
8. and by the blessings of God promised unto it
16. Israel was rejected for their sin
21. and shall be restored without their desert
25. The blessings of Christ's kingdom
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEzekiel 36:23
1060 God, greatness of
1185 God, zeal of
1115 God, purpose of
LibraryJanuary 2. "I Will Cause You to Walk in My Statutes" (Eze. xxxvi. 27).
"I will cause you to walk in My statutes" (Eze. xxxvi. 27). The highest spiritual condition is one where life is spontaneous and flows without effort, like the deep floods of Ezekiel's river, where the struggles of the swimmer ceased, and he was borne by the current's resistless force. So God leads us into spiritual conditions and habits which become the spontaneous impulses of our being, and we live and move in the fulness of the divine life. But these spiritual habits are not the outcome of some …
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth
May 30. "I Will Put My Spirit Within You" (Ez. xxxvi. 27).
August 25. "And I Will Put My Spirit Within You, and Cause You to Walk in My Statutes, and Ye Shall Keep My Judgments and do Them" (Ezek. xxxvi. 27).
The Holy Nation
A New Heart.
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The Covenant Promise of the Spirit
The New Heart
What Self Deserves
The Stony Heart Removed
Let Your Hearts be Much Set on Revivals of Religion. ...
God Has Everything to do with Prayer
How those are to be Admonished with whom Everything Succeeds According to their Wish, and those with whom Nothing Does.
Jesus Angry with Hard Hearts
The Everlasting Covenant of the Spirit
Touching Jacob, However, that which He did at his Mother's Bidding...
Pastor in Parish (I. ).
Be Ye Therefore Perfect, Even as Your Father which is in Heaven is Perfect. Matthew 5:48.
The Person Sanctified.
Evidences Internal and Experimental.
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