A believer’s knowledge of the historical accounts about God affects or establishes his faith. In his article A Theology of Ezekiel: God’s Name and Israel’s History, Alex Luc points out the relation of Israel’s condition to God’s name.
At the heart of Ezekiel’s teaching is the holiness of God, which refers both to the name and glory of Yahweh. Luc suggests that God’s name is given more emphasis than His glory (Luc 137). The focus of Ezekiel is the punishment and restoration of Israel, and he lets his listeners know that in these conditions God is concerned with His name. The Judahite crisis is God’s discipline upon His people as a result to their continuous and increasing rebellion against God. Ezekiel 16 and 23 show Israel and Judah’s apostasy, and of Judah’s worsening rebellious condition. Thus, the people’s sinful deeds have already gone beyond the tolerance of God that Yahweh had to put an end to this increasing trend of rebellion (Luc 139).
God meant all of this to happen in order to “redeem” His name. The people of Israel disdained the name of God before themselves and other nations because of their godless way of living. If they identify themselves as the people of God, yet live unbecomingly, then they are putting God’s name in open shame. However, the work of God also includes the restoration of Israel, and this is also for the sake of His name. Being disciplined by God, the nation of Israel seemed abandoned and hopeless. Nevertheless, God will show the whole world His power and mercy by delivering them from their oppressors and restoring the nation of Israel.
In observation, it is difficult to say that God is more concerned about His name than His glory, as Luc suggested in the article. The Bible consistently holds that God’s glory is His ultimate concern. In Isaiah 42:8, God gives an emphasis on His glory by telling that He will never let it be taken away from Himself. Every believer is called to do all things “to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). God’s entire plan of salvation is “to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12-14). Hence, the safest and consistent thing to do is to consider both terms together as one. For the honor (glory) of God is the same with His reputation (name).
Nevertheless, there are also some helpful things seen in this historical account of Israel. First, it affirms that believers bear the name of God, and that God cares about them because they are identified with Him. Second, Hebrews 12:5-10 tell that God disciplines His people, and that it affirms the legitimacy of one’s personal relationship with God. Third, God’s discipline is a call to humility and repentance. The Judahite crisis is God’s means to call His people to turn back from their sins and to turn to God. Fourth, God can use all things for His own purposes. The destruction of Jerusalem is not because of Babylon’s strength but because God allowed it to happen (Luc 140). Lastly, therefore, God is in control over all things. Even believers struggle with this when things seem to be unpleasant. However, this gives assurance and hope that God always work with perfect purposes, and that He is never unaware or unsure with anything in life.
Luc, Alex. “A Theology of Ezekiel: God’s Name and Israel’s History.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 26.2 (1983):137-143. Print.