Pastor Steve Ellison
The changing of the calendar from one year to the next causes many of us to make new year’s resolutions. It is always good to do that which is good, significant, and loving. Perhaps we should put more time and thought into our resolutions and our commitments to keep them.
God declared a resolution. You will find it in Ezekiel 20 (NASU). It would be very helpful for you to read this chapter now. Space limitations will require me to leave much out. Three times God said, “I resolved to pour out My wrath on them.” Them refers to Israel. This passage is set during the Babylonian Captivity, but it recounts low points in the history of Israel. Ezekiel is serving as a sort of mediator between the elders of captive Israel and God. The elders of Israel have come to Ezekiel to “inquire of the Lord” which is sometimes a good thing but certainly not in this passage. God puts them in their places with no ambiguity whatsoever. God makes it clear that He, and He alone, oversees all things with no questioning of the Creator by the creatures allowed. At three specific times, God resolved to pour out His wrath on His people.
Please do not miss the fact that each time God followed up “I resolved to pour out My wrath on them” with “But I acted for the sake of My name.” God did not annihilate His chosen nation because He had chosen to love them, care for them, and protect them. The majesty and holiness of His name would appear to be besmirched if His nation perished. For the sake of His name, God would arrive at justice by a different path. In verses 33-38, God declared that rather than pouring out His wrath on the nation, He would purge His nation by pouring out His wrath on the rebels and transgressors among them. Do not miss the climax reached in verse 38, “Thus you will know that I am the Lord.” The purpose of Scripture is always that the creature can know the Creator.
We have passed over a detail that we must not miss. Each of the three occurrences are virtually word for word. Ezekiel 20:13-14 states it plainly, “Then I resolved to pour out My wrath on them in the wilderness, to annihilate them. But I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, before whose sight I had brought them out.”(NASU) God is the missionary God. He does not want His majestic, glorious, holy name sullied in the eyes of the nations of the world because that would be tragic in and of itself. Furthermore, from before the creation of the world, it was always God’s magnificent intention to bring all nations, not just the Jewish nation, under the care of the Messiah. Profaning His name in front of the nations would not crowd them to Him, which is His heart’s desire.
For my new year’s resolution and yours, shall we resolve with the greatest of commitments to focus on honoring and not profaning the name of God? That is the best most effective way to love God and love your neighbor. God has a closing word, “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “I will not be inquired of by you. What comes into your mind will not come about, when you say: ‘We will be like the nations, like the tribes of the lands, serving wood and stone.’ (Ezekiel 20:31-32, NASU) The worst thing we can do for the world is to copy the ways of the world. The best thing we can do is to honor God by obeying Him.