Hebrews 12:1-2

"..let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." - Hebrews 12:1-2

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why God Acts

Here's a truth that I, along with a bunch of other people, am trying to grasp hold of and accept, even if I don't fully understand it:

When good things happen to "good" people, God is at work.
When good things happen to "bad" people, God is at work.
When bad things happen to "good" people, God is at work.

Right now you might be wondering "What is going on in his life to prompt such a statement? Has something bad happened?"

Let me put aside any questions of the sort by stating that nothing bad has happened to me or Lisa or our baby. In fact, everything is going really well at the moment, praise God!

So where is this post coming from?
It's coming from a small verse tucked away in the Old Testament.
It's coming from a time when the nation of Israel was suffering and in bondage.
It's coming from the book of Ezekiel.
It's coming from God to His people who had turned from Him.
It's something I heard quoted a few weeks ago and have had rolling around in my head ever since.

"Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 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 Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes." - Ezekiel 36:22-23

"Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.' "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Once again I will yield to the plea of the house of Israel and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep, as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the LORD." - Ezekiel 36:36-38
In this passage, God is telling His people exactly what He is going to do to free them from the bondage they are in and how He is going to restore the nation of Israel in the Promised Land. He is laying out His reasoning why in every step and it is not because He loved them above all other people. Read it through again if you don't believe me. Sure, God had heard and decided to "yield to the plea" of Israel, but their sorrow and suffering was not His reaoning for bringing about this change.

God determined to free Israel and re-establish them because He wanted His name to be glorified and magnified to the nations. God wanted to use the Israelites to be a visible witness of His Holiness to the nations around them (Ez 36:23) - the very nations that had seen Israel "profane among them" the name of the Lord.

God did not have to free Israel - He was in no position of obligation.
Israel was in bondage, in part, due to their defamation of God - they had nothing to offer God for salvation.
And yet, God inclined His ear to the Israelites and heard their plea.

But when God chose to act, He did not do so out of pity, charity or empathy.
- God chose to act for His name's sake.
- God acted in such a way so that His glory could be revealed to the nations.
- God acted so that others might see His Provision and praise Him as the One True God.
- God acted so that His people would turn from their wicked ways and give Him the honor He deserves.
- God acted so that His name might receive the praise and adoration He is due.
- God did all these things to the other nations and for Israel in order to garner Glory.

And that is hard for me to grasp.
I always think of God taking care of His people out of love and compassion, but that is only a portion of why He acts. God takes care of His people in order to be praised by others and by His people.

As one of His Children, am I living in such a way as to bring more glory, honor and praise to God in every aspect of my life? The obvious answer to that question is a resounding "No!", but in asking the question I cause myself to take a look at my life and take notice of the aspects of it that are either lacking or nonexistent.

If I love God, which I do, then I should live in such a way as to proclaim His Name and Glory to not only the nations but to my neighbors, friends and family as well. (Isaiah 26:8)

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