Summary: Christians are responsible for developing God’s reputation in the world. The failure to do this well always leads to action from God.
Holiness and the Name of God
Text: Ezekiel 36:16-27
Introduction: Proverbs 22:1 says, "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." Now of course what’s being talked about here is not really a quality name, although if you’re thinking about one for a future baby to be born to your family, I would like to recommend "Kerry." It’s very versatile! No, we recognize that the writer of Proverbs is not referring to one’s name, but rather one’s reputation, and of course, we all agree that reputations matter. Have you ever considered how difficult it is to shake a bad reputation? Consider the case of a substitute teacher of a 4th grade class at the Fuller School in south Chicago. On May 9, 1994, a group of students accused him of sexually molesting several of them. By that afternoon the school board had met and promised to bring in counselors for the children. By evening the story was all over the local news broadcasts. But the next day police investigators came and interviewed 14 of the children, and authorities determined the charges were false. Apparently the children made their false accusation because the substitute teacher threatened to report their unruliness. One radio announcer reported that a child had promised to give his classmates a dollar if they would join in the lie. Speaking to this problem, Jackie Gallagher, a spokeswoman for the Teachers Union said, "Sexual abuse charges are one of the hazards of the profession--a new one. Kids get sharper. It is akin to putting glue on a teacher’s chair twenty years ago." The Teachers Union president said that exonerating the teacher doesn’t always make things better. "What usually happens when a person is accused of this kind of thing is they’re exonerated by the board publicly but then later, quietly, they’re let go." IT’S HARD TO RESTORE A GOOD REPUTATION even when we’ve done nothing to tarnish it.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the church is the visible representation of Christ to the world (See Acts 1:8-- We are Christ’s witnesses). So it is not out of line to say that people will develop an opinion of Jesus based on the evidence we present. The question we must ask ourselves today is, "What kind of reputation have we established for Him?" In the text that was read this morning, we see that the same thing was happening with regard to the nation of Israel. They were building the reputation of Yahweh to the nations. The only problem was that they were doing a lousy job of it. Let’s take a moment and look at this passage and see what went wrong.
Background: The Israelites, a holy nation (See Exodus 19:6), were given a holy land (See Psalm 78:51-54) which was made so by the presence of a holy God (See Exodus 3:5) with a holy name (See Exodus 36:22). Yet they failed to acknowledge and honor His holy name (Contrast with Exodus 20:7 and Matthew 6:9) and instead tarnished His reputation among the nations by engaging in their pagan practices. As a result the Jews were the objects of God’s wrath, first through the Assyrians and then, later, through the Babylonians. It was during this latter time that Ezekiel was commissioned by God to prophecy about their return. In the passage we’re looking at today, Yahweh addresses the prophet and reviews what happened and, then, reveals His plan.