Wednesday, August 27, 2008

For His Name's Sake

“For His Name’s sake…”

Does that phrase ever bug you?

The other night I couldn’t sleep, so I finally got up and was reading in my Daily Bible (of which I am woefully behind schedule!) And I was reading in the book of Ezekiel.

In Ezekiel 20, God is relating to the elders of Israel (through Ezekiel) about how He brought them out of Egypt, only they kept rebelling and rejecting His laws.

Several times God says that He would have poured out His wrath, but that, “I withheld My hand and for the sake of My Name, I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations…” (emphasis added)

Over and over in Scripture we keep reading “for His Name’s sake…” It sounds like God does things to keep His name “looking good” and just for “the sake of His Name” so that no one will think badly of His Name. In other words, it looks like He doesn’t want His Name “sullied.”

It’s sorta like when parents tell their children “When you go out, you represent this house, so behave for our ‘name’s sake’…”

“For His Name’s sake”, sounds like God is protecting His Name - His Image…

But, that’s not what it means at all.

It means “for the ‘sake’ of His Name.” In the Hebrew, the word for “sake” is “ma-an” and means “intent” or “purpose”. And as an adverb means “on account of.”

In my study software, in the KJV with Hebrew numbers, we are always given 2 Hebrew words for “sake.” One is always H4616, which is ma-an, but the second word corresponds to the subject matter - whether mercy, or righteousness, or pardon, etc, and therefore means “on account of… His mercy” or “on account of… His Righteousness” or “on account of… His pardon…”

In other words, it is because of what His Name is that He “leads me in the path of righteousness.”

Because of what His Name is, He withholds His hand of anger. Because of what His Name is, He pardons, etc.

It is, actually, an indication of God’s very character!

“For His Name’s sake” is our greatest assurance of His presence and love because it is, Who He is!

Father, for Your very Name’s sake, guide our lives this day! In Jesus’ Name… and for His sake - Amen!

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7 Comments:

Blogger Questing Parson said...

"Doesn't want his name 'sullied'."

Now that will preach!

Thanks

10:14 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Hi... I was doing a search on the net for "name's sake" as I am reading Jeremiah at present and in particular 14vs 20-22. It states "do not abhor us, for Thy Name's sake" and I felt as you, what does that mean? for God not to hate us for His name's sake? Thank you for clearing it up for me (I have already checked out a NUMBER of other sites- to no real avail). Thanks again and many blessings to you

7:34 PM  
Blogger Rev. Dave Moorman said...

The seminary I attended, we did not study Hebrew or Greek. We learned a much more practical language for the pastorate: Euphemism! So I have struggled with "for his name's sake" for years. This week, I ran into a Greek version of the same notion in John 14:13 - "so that the Father may be glorified in his Son."

Thank you for opening up this conundrum.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Joe Varghese said...

The phase "for Your Name's sake.." also appears in Romans Ch 1 vs 5 "Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace ....". Your explanation fits in quite well in this context too.

4:09 AM  
Blogger pringles3030 said...

In your post you mention "because of what his name is " His name is truth, justice, the way. I look at it like this. If he did not stay his hand or give them (Jewish nation) what they deserved, then his promises would be broken. Namely bringing up the Jewish nation and Christ's lineage. But God is truth and he keeps his promises. In Jer. 14:20-21 the NLT puts it this way. (NLT)Jeremiah 14:20-21
Lord, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you. [21] For the sake of your reputation, Lord, do not abandon us. Do not disgrace your own glorious throne. Please remember us, and do not break your covenant with us. For me, this tells me what "for his names sake " means and I can understand why God does what he does.
Great post.
Shawn
Oregon city OR

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Brenda said...

I have been inspired to search out the meaning of "for His name's sake" and Havel been frustrated with shallow answers that simply did not ring with spiritual depth and truth. This on the other hand rings with truth. Thank you. This puzzling phrase has now become living word. Tomorrow I will attempt to do you proud as I teach this to my employees in our daily devotional, because of who He is!

9:47 PM  
Blogger Tech 15 Blogcast said...

I, too, have been struck by this phrase recently. In our current culture of "me-centered" Christianity, it's a real shocker to realize that God doesn't act just for my benefit. He acts because that's who He is, but I also believe there is an element of not wanting His name sullied. I think it's deeper than that, more like He doesn't want His character defamed. Solomon indicates in I Kings 8:41 that "foreigners" will come to Israel seeking the God whose name (character, reputation) about which they've heard so much about--these people are attracted to God "for His name's sake"! This is why we are exhorted to live lives "worthy of the [name of the] Lord" (Col. 1:10).
Thanks for a great post!

8:51 AM  

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