“As a soothing aroma I will accept you when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered; and I will prove Myself holy among you in the sight of the nations,” (20:41).
They had their nerve. The elders come to Ezekiel to get information from God. And I wondered if they were now seeking God because the news from Jerusalem was growing worse. From our introduction to chapter one we learned that Ezekiel, captive in Babylon, would prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem for seven years, and then Jerusalem would surely fall. And it is now the seventh year.
Now in the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth of the month, certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and sat before me, (20:1).
Was this what motivated them to seek God? It sounds likely. But whatever their motive, were they really interested in hearing Truth? That had not been their habit thus far. And as God knows the heart of every man, surely this was the reason He refused their request.
And the word of the Lord came to me saying, 3 “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Do you come to inquire of Me? As I live,” declares the Lord God, “I will not be inquired of by you,”’ (20:2-3).
For He has made it clear; He will not be consulted by the wicked.
“Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all?” (Ezekiel 14:3).
The Lord is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous, (Proverbs 15:29).
And rather than allowing Himself to be questioned by them, He confronts them with another painful walk down memory lane. How many times would He remind them of how they had sinned against Him, of their idolatry, their evil ways, their corrupt deeds? But even so, it seemed to have absolutely no impact on them. But yet again, God would take them back through His dealings with them, to His numerous acts of mercy and deliverance and their numerous acts of mutiny and defiance.
And on more than one occasion, He was ready to pour out His wrath, to zap them out of His sight. But rather than responding like sinful man, He would act according to His Name, for His Name’s Sake, that He would Prove Himself Holy.
Consider Him Who Will Prove Himself Holy
There are eight repeats in today’s chapter of the Hebrew word translated profane in the NASB.
Profane: to violate something sacred; to treat with abuse, irreverence, or contempt; to desecrate; to abase; to abuse; to defile; to put to a wrong or unworthy use; to debase.
While some versions may translate this Hebrew word using more than one English rendering throughout the chapter (defile, desecrate, profane), in the original language, the same word is repeated eight times. Do you think He was trying to get their attention?
Although they would treat Him as less than He deserved, although they would violate His Name, although they would defile His sabbaths, although their idolatries would profane His worth before the pagans, four times He repeats that He will act for the sake of His Name; and in every act, His Name will not be profaned as He Will Prove Himself Holy in the sight of all.
And with His repeats spoken in today’s chapter, what else can we do, but quiet our hearts, listen to His Word, and pay attention.
“Then I resolved to pour out My wrath on them, to accomplish My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. 9 But I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made Myself known to them by bringing them out of the land of Egypt. 10 So I took them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness,” (20:8-10).
“But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness. They did not walk in My statutes and they rejected My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live; and My sabbaths they greatly profaned. Then I resolved to pour out My wrath on them in the wilderness, to annihilate them. 14 But I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, before whose sight I had brought them out, (20:13-14).
“Also I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands, 16 because they rejected My ordinances, and as for My statutes, they did not walk in them; they even profaned My sabbaths, for their heart continually went after their idols,” (20:15-16).
“But the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, nor were they careful to observe My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live; they profaned My sabbaths. So I resolved to pour out My wrath on them, to accomplish My anger against them in the wilderness. 22 But I withdrew My hand and acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out,” (20:21-22).
“Also I swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them among the lands, 24 because they had not observed My ordinances, but had rejected My statutes and had profaned My sabbaths, and their eyes were on the idols of their fathers,” (20:23-24).
“As for you, O house of Israel,” thus says the Lord God, “Go, serve everyone his idols; but later you will surely listen to Me, and My holy name you will profane no longer with your gifts and with your idols,” (20:39).
Those who listen to Him, those who place their faith in Him, will come to know Him as Lord and profane His Name no more.
And because He does not treat us as we deserve, because He does not deal with us according to our sins but according to Who He Is, He Will Prove Himself Holy.
“Then you will know that I am the Lord when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your evil ways or according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel,” declares the Lord God,’” (20:44).
How do we respond to Him Who Will Prove Himself Holy?
He certainly does not need our help, but the Lord certainly made sure that we would know that He Will Prove Himself Holy. And He has called us to be like Him.
“For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy,” (Leviticus 11:45).
“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Matthew 5:48).
But how? How are we really to be like Him? How are we to be holy and perfect? How can we live so as to never bring shame to His Name? For the flesh pulls toward self, and self will always profane the Holiness of God.
But He has begun the good work of faith in us and we can be confident that He will perfect His good work in us.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus, (Philippians 1:6).
It is as we trust God Himself to sanctify and faithfully keep us that we will be enabled to walk in His Holiness until Jesus comes again.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass, (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
But we do have our part in becoming like Him. For Holiness is not merely outer behavior. And while that is what is visible to others, it is in our heart where holiness must find its roots.
Let us ask Him in faith, to root our heart in Him and to sanctify us entirely that we would offer Him, our choicest of gifts, that we would ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice
For on My holy mountain, on the high mountain of Israel,” declares the Lord God, “there the whole house of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land; there I will accept them and there I will seek your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your holy things,” (20:40).
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship, (Romans 12:1).
And as we offer Him all that we are, let us ask Him to renew us, in the spirit of our minds, through time in His Word that we would be transformed so as understand His will as He grows us in the likeness of Him Who Will Prove Himself Holy.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect, (Romans 12:2).
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth, (Ephesians 4:22-24).
And as He grows us in His likeness, and transforms us in His Righteousness, Holiness, and Truth, let us seek to glorify Him in our behavior in the sight of all as He Proves Himself Holy in us.
“Let our light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16).