Ezekiel 20:40-44 (ESV)
40 “For on my holy mountain, the mountain height of Israel, declares the Lord God, there all the house of Israel, all of them, shall serve me in the land. There I will accept them, and there I will require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your sacred offerings. 41 As a pleasing aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. And I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations. 42 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country that I swore to give to your fathers. 43 And there you shall remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves, and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed. 44 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”
Are we God-centered or man-centered? This question is one of great importance that we should often return to. We know, of course, that we are to be centered on the name, the person, the glory of God. Yet, when we examine our lives, our language, and our thoughts, we often find that it is very easy to slip back into a more man-centered philosophy.
Passages like the one above help us to remember that, while God may do us great good and show us wonderful kindness—kindness that we could never give thanks enough for—he does such things for a greater purpose.
Look again at verse 44 which reads, “And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.” Twice in that single verse, God puts the focus of his actions squarely and rightly on himself. God says to Judah, “You shall know that I am the Lord.” At the center of what he is about to do is that the people shall know that God truly is God, the supreme, the Lord, the King. God also tells them that he will deal with them “for my name’s sake,” again putting the emphasis of the action on the person of God and not on the people.
Before we find ourselves wonderfully offended at God for making himself and not us the center of the picture, look at what God is doing. God is rescuing the people from their captivity. He is bringing them to proper conviction of and repentance from their sins. He is renewing his relationship with them, rescuing them from Babylon and returning them to the Promised Land. God is giving them both earthly benefits and spiritual, heavenly benefits. They will see God in action. They will see god’s glory. They will be God’s people. They will have the greatest blessing people can have. The people in no way lose in this deal.
While the people get wonderful joy in the actions of God, we must be careful not to assume that the people are the central reason behind it. God is displaying his character. God is defending his name and his glory. God is supreme. God cannot pretend that the people are the highest value in this event, for to do so would be for God to set them above himself. To set something above God is idolatry, and God will not be guilty of that. However, God displays his glory, focusing on his own name, and in doing so, he gives the people the greatest of blessings. They get to see God’s glory, which is the supreme good, and they are rescued by God’s mighty hand.
So, are you God-centered or man-centered. God is God-centered, and this is the best thing for mankind.