- Eze. 19:1-22:31
In today's reading, GOD recounts Israel's history through the prophet Ezekiel. In the midst of this is an important truth which will serve as today's devotional subject: GOD always protects His Name. Names are very important to people. It's how we identify people, places and things. Your name uniquely identifies you among everyone else in the world. GOD has always placed a high value upon names. He gave Adam, the first human, his name and had Adam name all the animals and his wife, Eve. Several times throughout the Bible we see that GOD gave individuals new names. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. Jacob became Israel. John the Baptist's name was appointed by GOD. Jesus was named by GOD. Saul of Tarsus became Paul the apostle.
GOD places an even higher value upon His own name, which is fitting, since His name is much higher than ours. GOD's name implies two things: character and reputation. GOD's character is the sum of His attributes—such as love, light, gentle, just, merciful, gracious, longsuffering, etc. GOD's reputation is His history of actions. GOD's actions are determined and driven by His character. GOD's character will not allow Him to associate with wickedness. He is holy and He requires that people recognize this and treat Him as such.
GOD told Ezekiel that there were times in His dealings with the Israelites where He was very angry with them because of their rebellion and refusal to listen. He wanted to destroy them, but He changed His mind and turned away from His fierce anger because He didn't want to give the Gentiles a reason to blaspheme His Name, thinking GOD was somehow unable to fulfill His promise to bring Israel out of Egypt to Canaan. But eventually Israel and Judah became so wicked that GOD's longsuffering reached its limits. Sin must be punished and the people were so evil that GOD found it necessary to cast them away from Him. He did this because of His holiness and because He must protect His name which, remember, is comprised of His character plus His reputation.
As always, GOD expects us to imitate His character, and so we should also treat our name with the utmost care. We need to behave in a way that helps protect and build our reputation and to exhibit the character that matches and properly reflects Jesus in our life. Remember this important proverb:
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
(Prov. 22:1 NIV)