The glory of God. The exaltation of His Name.
As Christians, these phrases are well-known as part of our jargon, continually added into our songs, prayers, and speech to one another.
And yet, do we truly realize how important the glory of God and the exaltation of His name are? Are our lives shaped by the truth of these phrases or are they merely something we sing about on Sundays?
About a month ago, my family started reading through the book of Ezekiel. Every morning, we would read through a couple chapters individually and then discuss it that night. To be honest with you, as I began working through Ezekiel, I would often get discouraged reading about judgment after judgment. I know it sounds wrong of me, and it was, but I was struggling with perseverance to continue.
Finally, I asked the Lord to open my eyes to what He wanted to teach me through this part of His Word. Over the next several days, I continued reading Ezekiel just as before, but slowly the Lord began revealing something I had completely missed; something that was found in a small, perpetuating phrase: "So that you will know that I am the Lord."
I know, this phrase seems rather unimpressive. But, it is not just used once or twice. Or even 20 times. This phrase is repeated 53 times throughout Ezekiel! But why is this little phrase so important?
Every time it is mentioned throughout Ezekiel, the Lord had just mentioned something He was about to do in history. Exile of the Israelites. Judgment of the surrounding nations. Restoration of His people. The sins of Israel punished. Grace displayed by the Lord. At the end of the description of what He was about to do, He explained why He was about to do it: "That they will know that I am the Lord."
Let me give you an example of how this phrase is used in just one chapter. Ezekiel 36:21-23 says, "But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went...It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of my great name...Then the nations will know that I am the Lord...when I prove myself holy among you in their sight.'"
Do you see it? If not, let me explain. Throughout the book of Ezekiel, the Lord continually shows us that everything He does is first and foremost for His glory! That is why He says over and over again, "I will do such and such, so that they will know that I am the Lord."
Around the same time that I was reading through Ezekiel, I started a book called Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper. It is a fabulous book on missions, but the first point that grabbed me was not about missions, per say, but the glory of God.
To sum up the first chapter, Mr. Piper explains that God's greatest desire is the furtherance of His glory and the exaltation of His name. And if it is that important to God, it should be that important to us, His children.
As Mr. Piper explains, Isaiah 48:9-11 are probably the clearest verses on God's utmost desire for His glory.
"For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another."
Isn't this so true?! God alone is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and the Author and Perfecter of our salvation. He alone is worthy! He alone should be exalted!
As we see throughout Scripture and history itself, many godly men and women gave their lives for the sake of His name; that was their highest priority! Yet, how much do we care about exalting His name among the nations? Or even within our families? Or our own lives?
1 Corinthians 10:31 sums it up for us, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
Basically, we must be jealous for God, jealous for His glory. In Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary, one definition for the term 'jealous' is this: "Solicitous to defend the honor of; concerned for the character of".
Do we love the Lord so much that we are ready to defend His honor with our lives? Do we cringe when we hear His name being blasphemed or have we become so used to it that we can sit through a movie and not even notice that the holy Name of God was used in vain five times? Are we protective of the time we spend alone with our Beloved or do we just try to get in some Bible reading whenever we have time to fit it in?
O my friends, He deserves so much more! He deserves the unadulterated praise of every being on this planet, yet there are still so many who do not even know His name! This should stir us to action! This should cause us to lose sleep at night, knowing that there is a place on this earth where He is not worshiped!
Does He mean that much to you?
O Father, I know what the response of my heart should be towards You! I know that I should continuously render up praise and glory to Your precious name, for You are worthy! You deserve my everything, Lord. And yet, how many times do I seek to control my schedule, my time, my attitude during the day? My Jesus, I am so in need of Your grace! Make me jealous for the glory of Your name, O Lord! And may You open my eyes to see Your glory shine ever brighter than the day before!