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The Name of the Lord – Ezekiel 36:20-28

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The Name of the Lord

March 15, 2009

Lesson: Ezekiel 36:20-28

Key Verse: Ezekiel 36:23

Introduction

The Larger Catechism (#1) asks the question, “What is the chief and highest end of man?” The answer is given, “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him for ever.” In contrast to the wicked who are “far from (God) shall perish,” the heart of those who are made new in Christ testify, “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works” (Ps. 73:28). We cannot enjoy our Creator and Redeemer unless our desire, in thought and deed, is to declare God’s glory according to his Word. Thomas Watson wrote: “We glorify God, when we are God-admirers; admire his attributes, which are the glistering beams by which the divine nature shines forth; his promises which are the charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of price is hid; the noble effects of his power and wisdom in making the world, which is called ‘the work of his fingers.’ Psa viii 3. To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this rock only” (A Body of Divinity).

The Lord promises that he will make his name ‘hallowed,’ sacred, set apart and noble among the nations: “And I will sanctify my great name” (Ezek. 36:23). Matthew Henry wrote, “Observe, by the way, God’s holy name is his great name. His holiness is his greatness; so he reckons it himself.” There is no other God but God himself that can truly reveal his greatness. The Lord God Almighty has given a covenant, whereby he himself will “open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of prison house;” and he does this because of his declaration, “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images” (Isa. 42:7-8). Peter preached boldly of the glory of the Lord, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Christ alone is the Author of our salvation. The power to save is in Christ alone. The invitation to come to God in Christ Jesus is also of God who drags us out of darkness into his marvelous light. “For he took upon him our flesh once for this cause, that he might be a continual pledge of our adoption. He hath reconciled the Father to us forever by the sacrifice of his death: by his resurrection he hath purchased for us eternal life. And he is present with us now also, that he may make us partakers of the fruit of eternal redemption” (John Calvin).

The Lord’s Great Name – Ezekiel 36:20-23

Israel had a good land and a good God. But they defiled what was good and precious to the Lord: “they defiled it by their own way and by their doings” (36:17). Matthew Henry observed, “It was a good land, a holy land, a land that had the eye of God upon it. But they defiled it by their own way, their wicked way; that is our own way, the way of our own choice; and we ourselves must bear the blame and shame of it. The sin of a people defiles their land, renders it abominable to God and uncomfortable to themselves; so that they cannot have any holy communion with him nor with one another.” Israel was judged by the Lord and dispersed them among the heathen. “And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of his land.” The heathen looked at the people of Israel and saw their hypocrisy. Their actions did not fit their claim that they were the people of God. For it was the Lord who scattered his people among the heathen, “according to their way and according to their doings” the Lord judged them (36:19).

Paul reminded the Jews of his time of their pretense, claiming to “boast of the Lord,” that “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God?” Therefore, “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.” (Rom. 2:17-24). Those who claim the name of the Lord as their Creator and Lord are warned that they must examine themselves as to their thoughts and actions in the midst of a wicked world, that the glory of the Lord must be shown in their claim that they are children of the Most High God. The Christian must see that the Scriptures “principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man” (Shorter Catechism #3). It is the Holy Spirit who brings us to maturity in Christ through the teaching of the Word of God, which has been given to us “by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). The prophets’ claim was clear in their words, “Thus saith the Lord!”—For they spoke the words that the Lord wanted them to speak. “Paul and the other apostles claimed to speak not in words which man’s wisdom taught, but in words which the Spirit taught (1 Cor. 2:13). Not only the substance of their teaching, but also its form of expression, was asserted to be of Divine origin” (L. Boettner).

The Lord God Almighty claims that he alone is to be honored above all others. He said, “But I had pity for mine holy.” His name was blasphemed before the heathen nations. His consideration for his NAME reveals also his compassion for his people. For, in blaspheming his name, i.e. following after the idols of their own making, they were turning away from the Lord who alone gave them life. For it was the “house of Israel,” that “had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.” Ezekiel was to proclaim this gospel that in the Lord is the only Way, Truth, and Life! He was to give this message to the people: “Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.” Both the Lord’s judgment and his redemptive acts rest not in the people but in himself. When we glorify the Lord in our thoughts and actions we are most blessed. For our lives are then built upon Christ Jesus, and not upon wisdom derived from our own thoughts.

The redemptive covenant promise is revealed to his people in these words of the Lord: “And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.” The wicked smirk, amused at the Christians who try to be neutral in their witness, allowing them to take command, i.e. education belongs to the state, evolution is truth, abortion is political, etc. What belongs to the Christian home they say belong to state. Where shall we then stand as the name of the Lord is blasphemed? Matthew Henry persuades us to be faithful, “When God performs that which he has sworn by his holiness, then he sanctifies his name. The effect of this shall be very happy: The heathen shall know that I am the Lord when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes and yours. When God proves his own holy name, and his saints praise it, then he is sanctified in them, and this contributes to the propagating of the knowledge of him.”

Discussion: How are we to praise the Great Name of God?

The Lord’s People – Ezekiel 36:24-28

When the Lord delivers us from the darkness of our transgressions we marvel at the truth that we belong to our Father in heaven, and that he has placed us in his presence, through Christ, as his adopted children. Ezekiel spoke these words of the Lord to Israel; “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.” Their own land being that which the Lord had given them by covenant promise by a redeemer: “And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there” (Isa. 65:9). Paul spoke of this promise of grace: “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace … What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Rom. 11:5, 7).

How will this promise to Israel come to fruition? The Lord spoke, “Then I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. 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.” It is by the grace of God we are saved. The Lord will cleanse us from the filthiness of our sins, from our idolatrous life; he will also give us a new heart and spirit; he will put his spirit within us and cause us to walk in his way of righteousness, truth, and life. Jesus put it this way: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6). By the work of the Spirit and of the Christ the work of grace is manifested in our obedience to the Word of God.

This relationship with God our Father, the Son, and the Spirit, is summed up in the Lord’s word through Ezekiel, “And ye shall dwell in the land in the land that a gave to your fathers: and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.” The Savior defines this fellowship of life everlasting, saying, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). May our faith toward God be an example as did church of Thessalonica to “all that believed in Macedonia and Achaia.” Paul wrote and encouraged their faith, “For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you (church at Thessalonica), and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:7-10). By the same Lord and Savior were the people of Israel delivered.

Discussion: What is the glory of knowing that the Lord is our God and we are his people?


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