Do You Uphold God’s Name and Reputation?
WHAT is the general attitude of people toward God? Do they speak well of him and his name Jehovah? Do they look to him for guidance, and endeavor to obey his laws? Or, have you noted, rather, that people frequently blame God for misfortunes, and that some even curse him for the evils that exist?
It is obvious that the majority of mankind do not uphold God’s name and reputation. They do not have the attitude of the Bible psalmist who said: “O Jehovah our Lord, how majestic your name is in all the earth, you whose dignity is recounted above the heavens!” (Ps. 8:1) Nor do they respond to the invitation: “Let them praise the name of Jehovah, for his name alone is unreachably high. His dignity is above earth and heaven.”—Ps. 148:13.
Why do so many persons not have this high regard for God’s name and reputation? Why are they not inclined to “praise the name of Jehovah,” and honor him for the grand things that he has done? It is vital that you know.
GOD’S NAME PROFANED
The answer lies in events that happened at the outset of human history. At that time there was a rebellion against God by one of his heavenly angelic creatures, who brought God’s name and reputation into question.
This spirit creature used a lowly serpent as a mouthpiece in speaking to the first woman Eve, making it appear as though the serpent were actually doing the talking. He cast doubt on God’s command that prohibited, on penalty of death, eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. He claimed: “You positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.”—Gen. 3:1-5; 2:16, 17.
This was a misrepresentation of God, a lie about him. (John 8:44) The angelic opposer, Satan the Devil, in effect accused Jehovah God of withholding from the first human pair something that would be to their benefit. The result was that Eve, and then her husband, were induced willfully to disobey God’s righteous command. Such disobedience was a profaning or defiling of God’s name and reputation.
Ever since that time the spirit son who became Satan has been responsible for sponsoring ideas that misrepresent God and that cause people to question the rightness of his ways. The profanation of God’s name has thus continued through the centuries. Do you know why God has permitted Satan to remain for all these years? Do you appreciate the issue that was raised?
THE ISSUE RAISED
The issue that Satan raised in Eden was not a question of who had the greater might. Satan did not challenge God’s strength, which obviously was superior. In fact, had Satan known Jehovah as a God given to uncontrolled, violent outbursts, he could only have expected immediate, on-the-spot extermination for his course of vilifying God’s name and reputation. Rather, it was a moral issue that Satan raised. It had to do with God’s moral right to exercise universal sovereignty or supreme authority, and to require complete obedience and devotion of all his creatures.
Satan actually set himself up as a ruler who is a rival to Jehovah, challenging God’s rulership. In Job’s day Jehovah brought into the open before all his assembled angelic sons this challenge of Satan. But what occurred there brings to the fore a secondary or subsidiary issue that arises from the primary issue of God’s right to universal sovereignty.
THE RELATED ISSUE
That related issue has to do with the integrity or loyalty of creatures. What occurred in Jehovah’s heavenly courts in the days of the man Job makes clear that man’s integrity toward God was at issue in addition to the matter of rulership. Consider what took place:
“Jehovah went on to say to Satan: ‘Have you set your heart upon my servant Job, that there is no one like him in the earth, a man blameless and upright, fearing God and turning aside from bad?’ At that Satan answered Jehovah and said: ‘Is it for nothing that Job has feared God? Have not you yourself put up a hedge about him and about his house and about everything that he has all around? The work of his hands you have blessed, and his livestock itself has spread abroad in the earth. But, for a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch everything he has and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.’”—Job 1:6-12.
Yes, Satan made the claim that the loyalty of Job, and, by implication, of all of God’s intelligent creatures, was not wholehearted, not based on true devotion and genuine love. So Satan challenged that he could turn all men away from God, even the one of whom God said “there is no one like him in the earth.”
To settle this matter would require time. It would take time for the truth or falsity of the charges to be demonstrated, for the heart attitude of God’s creatures to be proved, and thus for the issue to be settled beyond any doubt. Therefore Jehovah permitted Satan to remain for a limited time.
AN ISSUE THAT CONTINUES TO OUR DAY
The issue of universal sovereignty and man’s integrity still remained alive when Jesus Christ was on earth. This is seen from Jesus’ confrontation with Satan in the wilderness. The serpentlike tactics employed in his temptation efforts toward God’s Son followed the pattern seen in Eden some four thousand years earlier. Satan’s offer to Jesus of rulership over earthly kingdoms if Jesus would bow down before him and do an act of worship made clear that the issue had not changed. Satan was still holding himself forth as a rival ruler to Jehovah.—Matt. 4:1-10.
This is also true today. The issue is still alive. Therefore, what is your position in connection with it? Are you faithfully upholding God’s name and reputation as Jesus did? Whom do your actions show that you are serving as ruler, Jehovah God or Satan the Devil?
The Bible reveals how that question can be answered when it says: “Do you not know that if you keep presenting yourselves to anyone as slaves to obey him, you are slaves of him because you obey him?” (Rom. 6:16) Yes, the ruler whom we are serving is revealed, not by the claims that we may make with our mouth, but by whom we obey, by whose will we are doing.—Matt. 7:21.
This should cause us to think seriously. Really, whom are we obeying? Are we actually doing the will of God? Do we diligently study the Bible to learn what God’s requirements are, and then do our utmost to obey them? For instance, when we learn that God requires that his servants live morally—not stealing, not getting drunk, not committing fornication or adultery—do we obey these commands? (1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Gal. 5:19-21) Or when God’s Word counsels Christians not to forsake the gathering of themselves together, and to share in preaching about God’s kingdom, how do we respond? (Heb. 10:24, 25; Matt. 24:14) The answers to such questions will indicate whom we are really serving.
SANCTIFICATION OF GOD’S NAME VITAL
We cannot minimize the importance of the issue regarding God’s right to universal sovereignty that Satan raised in Eden. Actually the entire Bible account revolves around it and how God determines to settle it. The settling of the issue will result in the sanctifying of Jehovah’s holy name, cleansing it of all reproach and false charges. In fact, God’s purpose to sanctify his name provides the key for understanding the reason behind his actions and his dealings with his creatures as set forth in the entire Bible.
Thus, we find that the nation of Israel, whose history forms a large part of the Bible record, was selected to be a ‘name people’ for Jehovah. (Deut. 28:9, 10; 2 Chron. 7:14; Isa. 43:1, 3, 7) Jehovah’s law covenant with them laid prime importance on their giving exclusive devotion to Jehovah as God and not taking up his name in a worthless way, “for Jehovah will not leave the one unpunished who takes up his name in a worthless way.” (Ex. 20:1-7) When Israel showed a rebellious attitude in the wilderness, Jehovah dealt mercifully with them and did not abandon them. However, he revealed his primary reason in saying: “I went acting for the sake of my own name that it might not be profaned before the eyes of the nations.”—Ezek. 20:8-10.
Throughout the history of the nation of Israel, Jehovah kept the importance of his sacred name before them. The capital city, Jerusalem, with its Mount Zion was the place Jehovah chose “to place his name there, to have it reside.” (Deut. 12:5, 11; Isa. 18:7; Jer. 3:17) The profaning of Jehovah’s name there would bring certain destruction upon the city and lead to the casting away of the temple itself.—1 Ki. 9:6-8; Jer. 25:29; 7:8-15.
In foretelling his restoration of his name people to Judah and their cleansing, Jehovah again made clear to them his main concern, saying: “And I shall have compassion on my holy name . . . ‘Not for your sakes am I doing it, O house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have come in.’ ‘And I shall certainly sanctify my great name, which was being profaned . . . and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah,’ is the utterance of the Lord Jehovah, ‘when I am sanctified among you before their eyes.’”—Ezek. 36:20-27, 32.
Jehovah God therefore makes clear that his primary purpose is the sanctifying of his own name, thereby cleansing it of all the reproach that has been heaped upon it. God’s Son Jesus Christ instructed his followers to pray about this, telling them: “You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.’” (Matt. 6:9) Do you pray this prayer? Is it really your heartfelt desire to see the name of God cleared of the false charges laid against it? What part can you individually have in the sanctifying of God’s name?
Well, since the issue of rightful rulership involves the matter of whether humans will faithfully serve God, you can do God’s will at all times. Failing to do so brings reproach upon Jehovah’s name, and pleases his adversary Satan. Thus true love for God and his name will motivate you always to obey Jehovah, and thereby you are sharing in the sanctifying of his name. And should you at times fall short due to human imperfection, love for Jehovah will move you to go to Him in prayer, telling him you are sorry and asking forgiveness for your shortcomings.
JEHOVAH’S SOVEREIGNTY PARAMOUNT
When matters are viewed in their proper perspective, then, the sanctifying of God’s great name is seen to be the most vital concern of the universe, taking precedence over the salvation of humankind. Actually, since all men are sinners, they are justly worthy of death. It is only by God’s undeserved kindness and mercy that any will gain life, life being a gift from God.—Rom. 5:15; 6:23.
The Bible psalmist expressed the true perspective of matters when he humbly and wonderingly exclaimed: “O Jehovah our Lord, how majestic your name is in all the earth, you whose dignity is recounted above the heavens! . . . When I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have prepared, what is mortal man that you keep him in mind, and the son of earthling man that you take care of him?” (Ps. 8:1, 3, 4) The sanctification of Jehovah God’s name rightly means more than the life of all mankind.
Since Jehovah could, in full justice, put an end to all sinful mankind, the greatness of his mercy and undeserved kindness is exalted all the more by his saving some of mankind for life. (John 3:36) Yes, Jehovah is patient and long-suffering, forgiving repentant ones “in a large way.” (Isa. 55:6, 7; Ps. 130:3, 4) However, at the same time he will not let the willfully wicked escape the execution of his judgment. Not that Jehovah takes pleasure in the death of the wicked, for he does not, but he will not tolerate forever a situation that reproaches his lofty name.—Ezek. 18:23; Amos 9:2-4; Rom. 2:2-8.
Thus, Jehovah shows a beautiful and perfect balance of justice and mercy. Really, are we not motivated to want to uphold the name and reputation of such a merciful and just God? It is indeed a privilege to serve as witnesses for the great God Jehovah, upholding his rightful sovereignty at every opportunity.
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Satan raised the issue of man’s integrity toward Jehovah’s rulership. Job proved himself loyal to God. Do you?