Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"For His Name's Sake"

Sometimes when we read the Word a word, or a phrase, or a concept seems to jump off the page and it sticks with us for a time and we begin to see the same thing in multiple places. I suspect this is another teaching tool used by the Lord to bring us to further knowledge of Himself (Eph. 1:17-19). Such is the case with "for His name's sake" as it is found several times directly stated and by implication in other places. The account given in Exodus of Moses and Pharaoh is a prime example. The judgment of Egypt and Pharaoh via Moses is declared in Ex.9:16, "But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." Compare this with Ex. 10:1. Even the ever increasing hardening of Pharaoh's heart was for his judgment and the glory of the Lord. Ex. 14:4 "...I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army." The primary reason for the parting of the Red Sea was in order that the Lord would "gain honor" over Pharaoh and his army, Ex. 14:17 & 18. The Israelites benefited from this in more than one way. Not only were their physical lives spared, but they found a new 'fear of the Lord' and they "believed the Lord and His servant Moses" Ex. 14:31. See the honor brought to the name of the Lord as they sung the new song of Lord's exploits and His greatness---Ex. 15:1-18.

 In Ezek. 20:1-44 we have a running account of the judgments of Israel that were not carried out by the Lord because to wipe out Israel would bring a reproach on the name of the Lord in the eyes of the Gentiles who would say that He was not able to bring them into the promised land (vs. 8 & 9; 13 & 14; 21 & 22). Verse 41: "I will be hallowed in you [Israel] before the Gentiles." There is a thread that runs throughout the Scriptures concerning the elect of God and it is found in James 2:13, "Mercy rejoices [triumphs] over judgment." The display of this principle is seen in Ezek. 20. Perhaps a more glaring example of this can be seen in Jer. 33 where the Lord sends His people into the captivity of Babylon and yet even here we find that His mercy reigns over the righteous judgment He brought upon Israel (see vs. 37-41). The judgments of the Lord upon the lost are eternal, without mercy, irrevocable, and without appeal---all for His name's sake. The 'judgments' upon the elect (Hebrews calls it 'chastening') are for our good and ALWAYS end in mercy---all for His name's sake. The pleading and begging of Daniel for the Lord to show mercy on the captive Israelites ends with these words: "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name." [Perhaps this is one reason why it was said of Daniel "O man greatly beloved" Dan. 10:11 & 19.] "FOR YOU OWN SAKE" show mercy! We deserve all Your wrath, and are not worthy of mercy! Yet, for His name's sake, He gives abundant and eternal mercy to His chosen ones!

It may be objected that He does show mercy for our sakes as well, after all isn't that why He loves us? Such is the narrow, even narcissistic view of modern day Christendom whose error is plainly seen in Ezek. 36:16-32. It begins by recounting the rebellion and idolatry of Israel (who can lay claim to innocence today?) and the corresponding righteous judgment of the Lord. And yet for all of His wrath mercy shines forth, but not for the reason too many have concluded. V. 21: "But I had concern for My holy name which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went." V. 22: "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord God: "I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went." V.23 goes on to say: "And I will sanctify My great name...and the nations shall know that I am the Lord...when I am hallowed in you before their eyes." The next few verses tells us what the Lord will [for His name's sake] do: "I will take you from the nations"..."I will sprinkle clean water on you"..."I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols"..."I will give you a new heart and a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh"..."I will put My Spirit within you [that's the 'new birth' or being 'born again'] and cause you to walk in My statutes and you will keep My judgments and do them"  and on He speaks and in V. 31 says: "Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations." [Ever wonder why that from time to time the past seems to be remembered all too vividly? Read V. 31 again and know that after the memories subside, He is waiting to remind us of the mercy shown to us (for His name's sake) in delivering us from the power of all our sins (Rom. 6:14 & Col. 1:13 & others).] Then we have V. 32, perhaps the 'coup de grace' to the notion that we deserve His mercy: "Not for your sake do I do this, says the Lord, let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel."

The Psalms offer many a reference to this also. 143:11, 'Revive me for Your name's sake'; 109:21 'Deal with me for Your name's sake'; 106:8 He saved Israel for His name's sake; 23:3 He leads me for His name's sake; 31:3 for Your name's sake, lead me and guide me; 25:11, for Your name's sake pardon my sins. Then we have Psa. 69:7-9 where David pours out his heart before the Lord. "Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers and an alien to my mother's children; because zeal for you house has eaten me up and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me." Sound familiar? It should because this is not just David's complaint, but also a prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus (Rom. 15:3; Isa. 53:3; John 2:17 & 7:3-5). "Because for You sake I have borne reproach" speaks directly to the suffering and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus from His betrayal to His death on the cross. He did all that He did for "His name's sake" and we are the beneficiaries of His sufferings. Make no mistake about it, everything that God has done has been "for His name's sake" from the creation (Col 1:16-18), all of history ( as briefly shown above), all future events and even the return of our Lord to this earth will be primarily for His glory in the eyes of his creatures and all of creation.

The New Testament is filled with this over-arching principle that all our Lord does is for His name's sake. 1 John 2:12 "I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name's sake." What other reason could ever be tendered for the mercy of the Lord to His children that would not end in the puffing up of man and the lessening of the glory of God for the work of His Son? Is not 'for His name sake' more than sufficient for the humbled soul who has received His great salvation? What need is there to look any farther? 2 Tim. 1:9, "who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." ["before time began" an interesting phrase also found elsewhere in the NT, but for another day.] Again, we have absolutely nothing to do with whether we are saved or not, but the salvation we have been given was granted according to His own purpose and nothing else. This is made more clear in Eph. 1:1-14 where there is more to be learned than our brains can hold while here on earth. But He does open our hearts a little at a time. Here, we find a different phrase employed to get to same meaning as "for His name's sake" and that is "to the praise of the glory of His grace" (vs. 6, 12, 14). The words may be different, but the end result is the same, only our Lord is worthy to receive all glory. Some may object and say, 'but God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...' Yes, He did, but that shows no indication that He ever intended to 'save' every human being that ever lived, does it? Nor does it show simple pity as any sort of motivation which some may think it does. Pity is not an attribute of our Lord, but judgment, mercy and love are. As is shown time and again throughout the OT judgment comes first, followed by mercy (but only for God's children). Further, we have seen that all of His judgments against Israel were followed by mercy (the exception being AD 70 with the following mercy has been delayed for centuries). What a grand picture of the Lord Jesus Christ! He took the judgment for our sins and we are blessed with His mercy! We suffered nothing and yet we reap the eternal benefits of His Mercy and Love! There was never a "plan B" for Christ or our salvation. He was the One slain from before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). What finer way to showcase the Attributes of our God than through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus? Our sin was judged (final and for all time), His enemies death and the wicked one will be vanquished at their appointed time, man's unrepentant rebellion was dealt a lasting blow and the principalities and powers of this world were made a public spectacle (Col. 2:1 & 15). Then we come to Rom. 2:8, "But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." There is no better way for the Love of God (for He IS Love) to be seen by the redeemed, the lost, or hell's minions than for Christ to have given His life as the ransom for the elect. It will be an eternal reminder of the cost of their rebellion. And it will be an eternal reminder of the praise and adoration due His name as we humbly bow before Him.

"But God, who is rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

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