Ezekiel 36:22, “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the SOVEREIGN LORD says: It is not for your sake, people 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.'” (NIV)
Mankind is inherently drawn to conditional affection. If others are nice to us then we can be nice to them. If others care for us then we can care for them. But what happens when people are rude to us? Or unkind to us? Naturally, we will want to write them off, or cast them aside. Such is the behavior of conditional affection, which can quickly change with situations. So when we come to a passage like Ezekiel 36:22 it should convict us because we witness the unconditional love of God.
Ezekiel is riddled with God’s railings against Israel and Judah. Even in captivity, and exile, many Hebrew people still refused to acknowledge their mistake of spiritual unfaithfulness. Their impulse to worship false gods and practice activities that violated God’s expressed commands were akin to taking God’s holy name in vain. The people of God distanced themselves from God, and were either ashamed of the Lord, or unconcerned with the Lord. Either way, they did not respect God as they should. And yet in the midst of this divine rebuke (in Ezekiel) God conveys an unconditional affection – an unconditional love.
The lesson being, it is not because of man’s good deeds or earnest intentions that God bestows His love. Sure, noble acts affirm a God-honoring character, but they do not merit more divine compassion. God gives us His complete, perfect love because that is Who He is. And once we can acknowledge this believers can then move out in appreciation, not expectation. Simply put, we are eternally loved and no mistake on our part can change this. And no honorable movement can earn more of it. The Lord’s unparalleled, matchless name and character never change. They never shift. And they never will.
Kevin Orr (8/30/2018)