Thursday, February 28, 2013

For His Name's Sake

One of the most encouraging things I find in the Bible is the affirmation that God acts. I find it encouraging not only to know he acts, but because he acts purposefully, in just the right way, at just the right time. He acts purposefully in the right way, at the right time not because we as believers have all our stuff together. He acts not because we ourselves have aligned all the necessary pieces to make the puzzle complete. No, God acts "for his name's sake."

That message is spoken of a number of times in the Bible and today it was spoken to me again in Psalm 106. It begins with the encouragement:
Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Then it begins recounting all the ways that Israel rebelled against God. It states that they didn't consider his "wondrous works" despite God parting the seas. The Psalm continues and states that they exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox. They sacrificed their sons and daughters and despised the land that God gave them. It's clear that Israel didn't live up to their name as God's chosen people. Yet in the middle of man's sin and mess-making, God was working. Verse 8 states:

Yet he saved them for his name's sake,
that he might make known his mighty power.

In the middle of man's sin, God saved "for his name's sake" - because that's who God is: mighty and powerful. Mighty and powerful is how God wants to be known. It's who he is - it's wrapped up in his name. Again, God had raised up the right man for the hour, Moses who, in verse 23, stood before God and pleaded for mercy on the Israelites:

Therefore he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him,
to turn away his wrath from destroying them.
The rest of the chapter goes on to talk about many more things the Israelites did wrong. Reading it, one could get the idea that there was no good reason that God would continue to hold his promises to them. One could reasonably think that God should have sent them right back to Egypt. After all, who were they to grumble about their circumstances having been brought out of slavery and in such miraculous ways? But God's heart was not - and is not - to punish, but to restore:

Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress,
when he heard their cry.
For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
Abundantly loving, always loving is how God wants to be known. It's who he is - it's wrapped up in his name.

The chapter ends with:

Save us, O Lord our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.
And then a promise in Romans 10:13: " For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

How can we not be encouraged? God, mighty and powerful, abundantly and always loving is ready, willing, waiting to act purposefully in just the right way at just the right time. And perhaps the greatest act he will do for us is to save anyone who will call on his name. It's who he is, and he'll always do it - for his name's sake.

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