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GOD will Hallow His Own Name!
Liberty is not God,
but an Instrument for Exhibition,
Response and the Taste of Reality
God will hallow His own name!
We find this for example in Ezekiel 34-39. It is He who
|seeing the lamentable lacerations of His law, design and way for man, His
which he had runinously wrought in that very liberty
which should have enabled fellowship with felicity with deity Himself,
|did not merely submit to such things.|
Such intransigent ruin on the part of His
rambunctiously errant creation, mankind,
was not a gun at His head, even if He had then been incarnate. It was occasion for His glory.
Thus, instead of supinely settling for
co-existence with such folly from His creation,
|in this case,
Israel in its wallowing in broken covenant,
|Israel to be
exiled, to be called to account,
but not to be extinguished, since it was a carrier for His covenant
and a testimony to mankind of the glory of God in His provisions for the race:
He declares that He will have pity on His name, regard to it, and that He will act.
His action in this case, exhibited in Ezekiel, is munificent, magnificent, liberal in love, intensive in realism.
If man insists on making such a massive mess of things in a crushing malady of major and multitudinous follies, then the Lord will Himself uses initiatives of deliverance and creates situations which will sustain the truth, maintain the message of mercy and bring judgment on evil to the point that good is brought from it (Genesis 50:18-21)*. Thus the wise may consider it, whilst on the other hand, the evil will by no means be merely short-circuited. Instead, its clownish calamities will bite, and the mercies will be right, and the collation will be effective. God's actions will reveal truth, show mercy where the heart is ready and judgment where no other option lies within reality.
In what way then will He be glorified, when He hallows His own name, in acting to bring back His people, though theirs is no good desert, to their land ? In what way will He bring grace and wisdom to bear on such an apparently riotous ruin, once so fine, now so smitten with their own sins ?
He will, by bringing them back, He will by showing them mercy, He will, by sprinkling them with clean water, as they are brought to the baptismal substitute for the Old Covenant with its blood (necessary since the blood of the Saviour would replace that of animals, and it, it was strictly limied at the physical level, cf. Isaiah 53, 66:3ff.): He will discover to the world, make it a moral adventure, a spiritual lesson, a practical lab work, that God is who He is and not another. He is not to be predicted by clammy hands building images.
He will show that His integrity is unquestionable, that He will overcome evil with good, that He will pay for the difference between judgment and mercy, He will HIMSELF bring equity and care, thoughtfulness and a Creator's loving realism to bear on a wayward and cruel creation, as in much it had become. His word would be His bond; His promise would be as good as infinite security, His compassion would match His passion, the former for pity, the latter for its cost. The whole wonderful loveliness of deity would be brought to bear on the evils, BECAUSE GOD IS LIKE THAT. Some say ...
" 'These are the people of the Lord, and yet they have gone out of His land.’
"But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went.
"Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God:
"I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord," says the Lord God, "when I am hallowed in you before their eyes ...' "
(Ezekiel 36:21-23, bold added).
God will HALLOW His name in care as in judgment, in faithful reliability as in teaching, in compassion as in fatherly discipline. It might appear to superficial judgments, partial assessors who see neither all nor why any; but the truth will still out, reality will declare itself in the end and in the many 'ends' before the finality of ultimate judgment, of which the restoration of Israel provides an example.
That is what we see in Ezekiel 36, where He stresses it: NOT FOR YOUR SAKES am I doing this! Be ashamed! For My name's sake, I do it, having pity on My name. He would not allow His truth and His mercy, His faithfulness and integrity, His love and His practicality, the cost or the showering of good on those who had wrought evil against Him, any or all of these things to shake Him from His purpose. Unchanged, He would produce, immutable He would be reliable, righteous He would never merely get His own back; if vengeance were to be, it would be for the sake of sin itself, on those who implacably refused to surrender into loving truth, continued their despicable self-will and the lacerations of licence which this produces, whether by lust of flesh or of mind, or indeed, of spirit.
Man failed ? yes. Man as priest made a mockery of the shepherding skills, using it for advantage, to gain power, to despoil equity, to show a measure of understanding unworthy of a stone ? Yes, but HE, the Lord would not only preserve the image of who He is, the appearance, the testimony, in word; He would do it in deed.
That is the burden of Ezekiel 34. If the 'shepherds', the priests and the false prophets, in which our own generation abounds in parallel to those of ancient Israel then: if these were to become hollow resonance tubes of their own throbbing pride, then HE would come and do it Himself. For His name's sake, He would not suffer such a state of affairs to continue. That it would make its evil impact is part of the mission of history to interpret sin; to make it blush. That HE would overcome this by actually dying for His people, the ultimate cost of divine solicitude as in Ezekiel 34, as detailed in Psalm 22, 16, 40, 49, Isaiah 49-55, as put into perspective in Micah 5:1-4, as set to imagery amid fact, in Zechariah: this was also, this the ultimate, pitying His name, pitying His people, asserting His holiness. Yes, it was hallowing His own name, being what He said, doing what it took, and completing it without malice, but rather in the passion for forgiveness to the last, from which it found source at the first.
In Ezekiel 34:11, we find this: "For thus says the Lord God, 'Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.' "
In Ezekiel 28:21ff., the Lord refers to a devastation against Sidon. "I am against you, O Sidon," He declares, "I will be glorified in your midst; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I execute judgments in her and am hallowed in her." Sword and blood will be emblems of this in this case. The pricking briar, the painful thorn against the house of Israel, the work of those who despised her, this will be no more. Nor was it! It had its own tally to pay for its thrusting contempt.
Again, in Ezekiel 39:27ff., we find a very different application of this hallowing of the Lord's name. In this case, Israel, after much taunting, following foolish vaunting of its own will, and after many desolations by those who threw their pagan weight at her, as they might, is delivered from a massive onslaught near the end of the Age. This is in that phase of history when Israel is brought back to its land as in Ezekiel 36-37, never more to be reduced as before, and here it is, with it relatively newly back, that it meets this massive invasion. Having used His own divine power to prevent the ultimate bully from destroying the initial nation which God chose to declare His way of salvation to mankind, and having left the slaughtering nations slaughtered, He makes the point in this way, in Ezekiel 39:25ff. (bold added).
"Therefore thus says the Lord God:
‘Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name -
after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness
in which they were unfaithful to Me,
when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid.
‘When I have brought them back from the peoples
and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands,
and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations,
then they shall know that I am the Lord their God,
who sent them into captivity among the nations,
but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer.
‘And I will not hide My face from them anymore;
for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’
says the Lord God."
Declaring that He will restore Israel to its place, not for its own withered sake, but to hallow His great name, to make it holy (Ezekiel 36:22-23), He here announces superb blessings which in Ezekiel 37 do not stop short of the reign of the Messiah, the descendant in human format, of David, as promised.
Thus not only does the Lord refuse to change, to be vengeful, vindictive, but to be inequitable, unjust, self-serving; and He INSISTS on carrying out the gracious promises and initial undertaking He has made, to the uttermost point. What is His, He will not disappoint; and even where a nation like Israel broke the covenant (as in Zechariah 11), and sold their King, yet HE will sell nothing, and settle for nothing less than bringing them to their land, and with the outpouring of His Spirit (cf. Zechariah 12:10-13:1), bringing many to His heart, where pity dwells, where His name is, which He hallows.
Thus when GOD hallows His name, it may be in requiting evil, after giving it the liberty to show what it is, only to meet fatally, what it is not. It may no less be in fulfilling freely taken obligations, those of His magnanimous Spirit, wrought in mercy, present in love, cherished in truth. The word of Asa, "O Lord, you are our God. Do not let man prevail against You!" - II Chronicles 14:11, never rings false, but like Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, shivers into being, is statuesque in life and demonstrates its vision by its results.
The issue seemed clear in the case of Christ. Here was this carpenter turned preacher, as some thought, at last brought to the cross by the theological regime in power, corrupted in its manner of gaining high office, and ready to murder for the squalid gain of survival. Here was He, so great that past healing sickness, He could raise the dead so that the whole local world seemed bent on His praise or services, except those with vested interest in some status quo. God is always hard on some status quo, whatever its name, when He and His Spirit and His word are not paramount. When God paid His call, the Cross was the place for registering cancellation of covenant, and eloquent in its way, it was too.
It seemed that man had prevailed, that whatever Jesus had that worked, it would not because it COULD not work against the statutes and traditions, the rules and the regalia, the ceremonies and the conceptions of a State, such as Israel, even if it were a State within an Empire, which had subdued it.
As Christ committed His Spirit into the hands of the Father who sent Him from His home in heaven in the first place, so it seemed that one more chapter in savvy cunning and gross abuse of power had prevailed into print, and would remain with the unchanged title page, "DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME!"
The name of guile, devil, desperation and the despicable had once more, it seemed, been raised to the top, and raw power and ruined hearts were the place to find if you wanted to know how the earth ticked in the thickets of its rank heart.
God however, in Psalm 2, makes it abundantly clear that such an imbroglio, such a script, an awful oratorio, a libretto was not going to proceed. He had other ideas, had had them before time was (cf. Revelation 13:8, Psalm 40), and indeed would never have made our brand of time if it had not been that He DID have this solution for sin in mind (Isaiah 51:16 cf. No Thanks for Angst ... Ch. 8, *1 in Ch. 3 above).
He would hallow His name by fulfilling His responsible promises, His ardent intentions and His brilliant invention, the incarnation, the atonement and the resurrection, that schema, that splendour incapable of being over-praised. His words, His works, hey would not lag. When the appointed time came (as in Galatians 4:4, and Daniel 9:27 cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), He would act, just as when the appointed time comes, the salvation action being finished, the separation of wheat from tares would ensure, and judgment after that, in its time.
He would do amid His divine enterprises, act and perform:
|1) what He had
|2) when He willed
|3) how He willed
|4) for the reasons
stated and implemented in the manner and circumstances of it,
|5) with the result
|6) and having paid
|7) gain much
|8) having in
personal action, endured what He paid for, and claimed what He chose,
|9) not in
self-will, but in sublime love, this being His very nature,
forcing none, impotent before none, knowing all, gaining some.
In this way, His name is HALLOWED. None breaks it, none is forced by it to be His friend, none is unloved with the initial love which foreknowing all, predestinated accordingly (Romans 8:29ff.), it is imperial but not imperious, sovereign but not selfish, sacrificial but not futile.
Flesh would not prevail against His determined will, though the world should abort itself in an effort to try to do so (and Israel, in particular, gain for itself a 1900 plus year detention out of its land for its pains). It is very clear, a millenium before it happened, how the matter lay, would lie and would come true.
These things are simply but emphatically put in the word of God, with a special emphasis in Psalm 2 (of David - cited in Acts 4, in the apostolic prayer meeting). It is as follows.
"Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
'Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.'
"He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
'Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.'
"I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
'You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ "
"Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him."
The 'anointed', the same word as 'Messiah' here refers to the One to be made Judge of all, whom the Lord will use for the focus of faith, the objective ground of salvation, the concentration of devotion. Since it is only in God and not in man that one must one rest one's trust, this Saviour is God the Son Himself who, since only GOD is Saviour, is just that in the person of Christ Jesus (Isaiah 43:10-11, Philippians 2).
Here you see the vindication of the holy perspective of salvation which came in the resurrection of the body of Christ (as foretold in Psalm 16, and none could stop it or say, Here it is, the dead body, look and see! for it decays). Christ sanctified Himself (John 17:19) to perform this ultimate test to Deity in the vulnerable and temptable form of man, this ultimate of integrity, of courage, of personal power and natural oversight combined, setting Himself to delve into death and defeat it with truth, being innocent of transgression and in Himself, arbiter of destiny from the Father (John 5:;18ff.). A judicious judge ? yes but a jubilant deliverer, sent to secure truth in Person amid the variable idiocies, oddities and outrageous innovations of man.
When then do we find from this ?
SO much is His name to be hallowed, then, that when on earth He set Himself aside as sanctified like a prepared sacrifice. Like an athlete physically, so He morally and spiritually, and yes physically also was dedicated, devoted, but without limit, to His sublime task and His devastating duty, willingly undertaken, for God IS love. Nothing contrary to it is in Him; and what He hates is only sin, the devastation of what love loves, and the answerable responsibility of those who refuse not only to stop it, but to find Him as its resolution.
In His grand schema, nothing failed. Neither did Lazarus fail to arise when called in that dramatic manifestation of RELIABLE divine power in Christ (John 11), nor did He Himself remain to rot, He who in living and tangible form declared before Thomas the physical verification. And that ? it came just as did and does all in the entire performance of this plan of salvation. He has declared before man its verbal verification, in principles spoken; and shown its truth in its practical implementation: things said show it, by things done we know it.
Here is the intimation that this vindication in resurrection, itself a chapter in the book of life from millenia before, was only a beginning of the hallowing of the name of God. There is more to follow, and follow it does.
THIS is what Psalm 2 is amid the schema for salvation, declaring to one and all, asking mankind to realise majesty and truth, while time remains.
What does it then tell us on this point ? It is this.
What sets itself to destroy this salvation would itself meet a kindled wrath, while what would make use of this symphony of divine grace in the Saviour, this would do so through trust in this very same One, who having been set forth by God for the redemption of those who receive Him, is no less set forth for the condemnation of those who deny Him. These prefer the attraction of sin to the retraction of repentance and the restoration of redemption.
God HALLOWS HIS OWN NAME.
It OUGHT to be hallowed because it is true where lies abound, trustworthy where defections multiply, reliable where ruthlessness transgresses, peaceable where war rages as if by delusion, profound where superficiality reigns with man. It has moreover the sheer beauty of loving kindness, where vanity and vacuity add to ignorance to make horror for man even from and in himself. In hallowing this name, one hallows Him who is that of the King of heaven, the healer of souls, the gracious and the wise, the God of creation in terms of whose power and edicts we are made, and function. If one hallows One Sent (as in John 3:16, Isaiah 48:16) from the Godhead TO man, one hallows the Sender no less, and the Spirit which applies these things in the same way, ONE God of salvation, a Being most marvellous, three persons in infinite intimacy, acting as One, of one nature, of a multiplicity of mercy and a wonder of works.
The situation is epitomised in a prelude or preliminary example, pointing to a work of free redemption to come, free both in the provision (Romans 3:23ff.) and in the method of impartation (Romans 5:15), that is, no postage required! The gift of eternal life is both provided for by grace, and gifted by grace so that man's part as a middle man is ZERO.
So in the case of Joseph, grossly misused by his brethren, who out of jealousy in fact sold him as a slave to Egyptians, the time came when the tables were turned, when he was a ruler in Egypt and they supplicants from a famine-stricken country, seeking for food.
When he realised who these Hebrews were, he was overcome with emotion, not for vengeance, but of a pitiful and brotherly kind, so that welling up within him were feelings of mutuality, kindness and a design to help with affection a keynote. He therefore, having shown who he was from whom they were inadvertently seeking help, he told them not to be afraid (he would of course readily have had them killed, whether in justice for their wickedness or by false charges, such as many in power invent to subdue their adversaries or those who, for some reason or other, they choose to hate). Instead he reflected: what YOU did to me, you intended for evil, but GOD in His wisdom has turned it into good, so that our whole race could be saved through me, thus misplaced to Egypt, to feed you when famine threatened your lives!
What the did Joseph say to them ? It was this.
"Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."
Not only so, he actually MADE PROVISION for their needs as well.
"Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Such is the grace of God, sometimes shown through His messengers, His servants, and always of course to be shown by those who are members of His very body (Ephesians 2, 4), integumental to His motions, Christians. In this, they show sharp contrast both with those who seek mere justice, and those for whom 'justice' is an undesirable term. Justice Christ bore, compassion He showed, truth was thus vindicated and goodness, that of God, was exhibited; for He hallowed His name in these things, His character being manifest, His mercy magnificent, His practicality, intense and His mind for man exhibited without the disputations of a devious devil or the computations of those who seek by all means to avoid the obvious. You are, as Paul declares in Ephesians 2, saved by grace through faith, and that whole thing (neuter in Greek), it is not of yourselves, it is of God.
There is nothing like this grace of God, since no other CAN meet the just deserts of man, and not ruin him, CAN change the corrupt heart of man and enable him freely to be gracious without slightly justice and truth, or acting for God without authority, and no other but God CAN go beyond the psychological and pathological configurations of man's nature, fallen, and bring love to bloom, freely and without self-interest but with manifest interest for man; for no other knows or foreknows as He does, or knows the heart of man as He (cf. To Know God ... Ch. 1 and Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 11), being both beyond the superiority-inferiority domain that results from sin, and the self-interest spirits which seek their own.