For the Sake of His Name
Ezekiel is a fascinating book. In fact, the man Ezekiel is a fascinating man, who lived a fascinating life. He was one of the men God hand-picked as a prophet. The prophet’s job was to warn the people of God’s impending judgment and how to avoid it (normally, by true repentance).
In the first chapter of Ezekiel, we see the events unfold to the point where God finally reveals Himself to Ezekiel and by the time we get to Chapter Two, God is speaking directly to Ezekiel. It is an awesome spectacle to even read about, much less behold, as Ezekiel beheld it.
God wastes no time in announcing to Ezekiel that He had appointed him to go to the house of Israel and speak to them. God warned Ezekiel that he was to speak to them “whether they listen or not” (2:5, NET). God also warns Ezekiel that he must not be afraid of them, or their reaction to what he was to tell them.
In many ways, the job of the Christian is to speak to those who are lost. We are to tell them the things of God and specifically, we are to tell them of the only available means of salvation: through Jesus Christ. We are to tell them, whether they listen or not. We are also not to be afraid of them or their reaction to the truth.
As far as Ezekiel is concerned, he was being sent to an obstinate people, a people who majored in being rebellious. It is almost as if they looked for ways to disobey God’s clearly-revealed will. Interestingly enough, today, we have the complete revelation in the entirety of the Bible. Are there things we ignore, or refuse to do because of “grace” that God extends to us? Are there things that we do not comply with because it is inconvenient for us, or because we just do not want to comply? If so, then how are we different?
Over the course of the next few chapters of Ezekiel, God indicates the punishment He will rain down on the house of Israel, due to their rejection of Him through rebellion and disobedience. It’s not a pretty sight if we consider the things that God said He would do to Israel.
We know from history that all of the things found in Ezekiel came true regarding Israel. They were fulfilled literally, over time. It doesn’t matter if God spoke of the other nations taunting Israel, or when plagues, or beasts, or famine or something else altogether was sent against Israel. What matters is that they were not figuratively fulfilled, but literally fulfilled. This is important to understand.
Beginning in the 8th chapter of Ezekiel, we see the sins of Israel brought to view. Some of the sins which Israel participated in were thought to be done in secret, yet it is clear that nothing is a secret to God. He allows nothing to “slide” in spite of His love and seeming unending patience.
Nothing of course is hopeless where the Lord is concerned. In Chapter 16, God is already stating that He will heal them, and restore them, because of the covenant He made with them. Rebellion is again not far behind. By the time we reach Chapter 20, Israel has rebelled again, but God indicates that He will have it out with them a final time. He will make them pass under the rod and He will deal directly with them, as one to another.
One must ask, why God continues to do this, time after time, in spite of the fact that Israel continues to reject God? Why does He persist in causing them to return to Him, only to see Israel reject Him once again? Why could God possibly continue to deal with Israel in such a way? Why not simply give up on the nation and move onto the Church?
There is one major reason why God does anything. This holds true not only of Israel, but of you and me. Why does God continue to persevere in bringing us back to Him when we consistently sin against Him? Why would God allow Israel (or anyone), to reject Him time after time? The answer is found in the 20th chapter of Ezekiel, as well as many other places throughout Scripture.
Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for the sake of my reputation and not according to your wicked conduct and corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the sovereign Lord (Ezekiel 20:44)
This reality is often overlooked by many. If God were to simply reject Israel with permanence, then no matter how the Bible is manipulated, God will have lost. If it is said that He gave up on Israel, replacing her with the Church, no matter how you look at it, God lost His “war” with Israel. He apparently could never get them to do His will. He could never gain the upper hand, or the victory where Israel is concerned.
Yet, throughout the latter part of Ezekiel, He clearly states that the reason He continues to deal with Israel is for the sake of His reputation. It is not possible for God to simply walk away from Israel, somehow claiming that He will “continue” His work with Israel through the Church. Any way you consider it, if He could do that with Israel, then nothing can stop Him from doing the very same thing to YOU.
God’s promises to Israel were eternal (lasting until the end of time). Because they were made to Israel within the scope of time, they would last until the end of time. Yet, today we have individuals who believe that God switched gears in mid-stride, determined to reject Israel (because they rejected Him one too many times), and start fresh with something else; the Church.
This belief is arrived at by spiritualizing Scripture; taking what is literal, and finding fulfillment allegorically. But please note, that no one has a problem with understanding and agreeing that God’s punishment on Israel the many times throughout history was in point of fact, actual. His punishments were literal. All of a sudden though, when we get to His approval of Israel, or His appeasement, this then becomes allegorical to represent the Church.
This is garbage, to put in bluntly. If people cannot see that God is still working in and through Israel, to bring them to repentance, then they are sadly, blind. They are usually blind due to some form of anti-Semitic leaning, yet they would deny this charge.
The truth is in the Scripture. What He has done and will do with Israel is all for the sake of His Name and His reputation. Casting them aside permanently proves nothing to the nations. It also proves nothing about God’s trustworthiness. What it proves is that God cannot be believed when He makes a promise. That is reprehensible.
The choice of course, is yours. Will you understand the Scripture to be literal only when it speaks of punishments against Israel, or will you understand the Scriptures to be literal when referencing God’s punishments and His rewards where Israel is concerned? If you choose the former, you are stating that God does not honor His commitments. If you choose the latter, you understand that while salvation has always been and always is the same for all people, His will and purposes for nations and individuals is not always the same.
Entry filed under: dispensationalism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology. Tags: allegory, anti-christian, anti-zionist, book of ezekiel, christianity, covenant, covenant of grace, covenant of works, dave macpherson, end times, ezekiel, ezekiel 20, ezekiel 38, ezekiel the prophet, for the sake of his name, for the sake of his reputation, house of israel, israel, israel is not the church, jew, jewish, literal hermeneutic, literal method of interpretation, man of lawlessness, mighty men of renown, prophecy, prophet ezekiel, rapture, second coming, the church is not israel, tribulation.