Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ezekiel 36: Your Name in Lights

When the LORD acts it is good news. Christianity is always good news. And Christianity is always about divine action not human action. It’s always the Triune God, the LORD – Father, Son and Holy Spirit saying I will. There is no full and proper coalition here. It’s the LORD. Full stop.

Twice – am going to act not for your sake but for the sake of my name. Ezekiel 36v22, v32 not for your sake… but for the sake of my holy name. Christians dispute: Does God act because he loves us or because of his glory? On the face of it Ezekiel 36 is a big win for the glory guys.

But, what is “my holy name” – what is the name of the LORD?
The name of the LORD has always been his gracious saving gospel character – the name he displayed in Exodus 33 to Moses. “I will proclaim before you my name”. The name is expressed in his deliverance of the people in Exodus 23:21 “I send an angel before you… my name is in him”

The Name dwells in the Tabernacle and Temple (Exodus 20:24, Deut 12:5). Ideas don't live in places - persons do. And priests put the name on people (Num 6:23-27) so they can reflect the name to the nations. 

In Genesis 4, in the days of Seth the people began to call upon “the name of the LORD” as did Abram later. It’s Old Testament language for the saving person of the LORD – for the one in whom the gospel is found. It is the Old Testament language for Christ. Christ who is the name of the LORD, the one who goes out from the Father to display his glory – to shine out his name in the world. Not an attribute but a person. In Romans 10:13 we’re told that everyone who calls upon “the name of the LORD” will be saved. In Christianity it isn't an idea that saves - but a person. And Acts 2:21 “everyone who calls upon the name of the LORD will be saved”

The LORD, the Triune God says through Ezekiel…. Christ has been mocked among the nations but now I will act, not for your sake but for his that he will not be mocked.

What will the Triune God do? Ezekiel 36:24-30
- V24: I will take you from the nations and gather you…
- V25: I will sprinkle clean water on you – cleansing you from your sin and idols
- V26: I will give you a new heart
- V27: I will put my Spirit within you – the one who always cries out Abba Father.
- V29-30: I will make no famine for you – which is a move from curse to blessing. The law said that famine was a curse – e.g. Ruth 1, there is famine in Bethlehem means they were cursed, means they were sinning.

What do you call that? My best translation is LOVE. Lavish, unspeakably wonderful love. This is what he does - and not to some other person, but to Christ, for Christ, in Christ. The promises don't happen in Ezra & Nehemiah - not even close. Only in Jesus.

Jesus The Name of the LORD is the True Israel. Jesus is everything Israel weren't. All four gospel writers want us to see that he fulfils everything about who they were meant to be. From the genealogies that explicitly identify him as Abraham and David and God’s true son. He shares the baptism of his people and is anointed with the Holy Spirit. He endures 40 days (instead of 40 years) testing in the wilderness. He, the LORD the Son, fulfils all that was said of Israel and then climactically at his death he totally completes this.

At the cross he has the sins of his people imputed to him – he becomes unclean. He who knew no sin became sin for us. He was exiled from the presence of his Father who forsook him. He was under a curse heavier than any famine inflicted upon the people. And yet he came through it and was washed clean, raised by the power of the Spirit in whom he finds his relationship with his Father, and he will never again know the curse of the LORD upon him but always blessing from his Father.

When the LORD acts for his name it isn’t in a display of blistering power that blows everyone away, it’s in the sending of the Son to a curse-bearing shame-enduring death. At the cross the love, justice and righteousness of the LORD are perfectly vindicated. In the pusuit of the name we see his love. The glory of God isn't "your name in lights" it's a person.

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