Weekly Torah Commentary – Ki Tisa March 16, 2017

Torah reading: Exodus 30:11-34:35

Haftorah reading: Ezekiel 36:22-36

Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them.  And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.  Ezek. 36:22-23

Grace

This week’s Haftorah reading opens with a powerful declaration by God Himself.  It is a definitive explanation regarding His plan and purpose and removes any and all thought that His miraculous intervention on behalf of Israel was somehow connected to their good deeds, but rather it is God Himself, vindicating His own holiness and His exalted name.  The benefits to Israel are a byproduct but the central message is God’s vindication of Himself.

Vindication for us human beings is simply the need to feel right.  At an extreme, vindication translates to “I win; you lose.”  This is an identity-based need and relates to face-saving.

At some point, all of us have been hurt to the point that we want to retaliate or at the very least, make the other person feel something close to what we feel. We are naturally prone to desire vindication if we have been misunderstood, maligned or slandered.  If we are wrongly accused we vehemently defend ourselves and actively seek to prove the accuser wrong. We do not want people thinking evil of us, nor do we tolerate unjust speech about us that could damage our reputation in the eyes of others. In a word, when anything like that happens, we want to be vindicated, we want to be proven right.

However, God is not a man like us. When He speaks of ‘vindicating His Holy name’ it’s an entirely different issue.  The human desire for vindication is self-centered; it’s about ‘me’. Not so with God. Ezekiel’s passage above tells us:

God created us for his glory:  ‘Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.’ (Isaiah 43:6-7)

God called Israel for his glory:  You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified (Isaiah 49:3).

I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory. (Jeremiah 13:11)

God rescued Israel from Egypt for his glory:  Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works . . . but rebelled by the Sea, at the Red Sea. Yet He saved them for His name’s sake, that he might make known His mighty power. (Psalm 106:7-8)

God raised Pharaoh up to show his power and glorify his name:  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show My power in you, and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Romans 9:17)

God defeated Pharaoh at the Red Sea to show his glory:  And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord . . . And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen. (Exodus 14:4, 18; cf. v. 17)

God spared Israel in the wilderness for the glory of His name:  I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. (Ezekiel 20:l4)

God gave Israel victory in Canaan for the glory of his name:  Who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? (2 Samuel 7:23)

God did not cast away his people for the glory of His name:  Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord . . . For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake. (l Samuel 12:20, 22)

God saved Jerusalem from attack for the glory of his name:  For I will defend this city to save it, for My own sake and for the sake of my servant David. (2 Kings 19:34; cf. 20:6)

God restored Israel from exile for the glory of his name:  Thus says the Lord God, It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name.. . . And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name. . . . And the nations will know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 36:22-23; cf. v. 32)

Vindication from God’s point of view is that all men everywhere might know His love, His goodness, His faithfulness, His power, His might and His strength.  He doesn’t need vindication to make Him feel good!  He IS God, after all.  The vindication of His holiness is when God Himself displays His wondrous goodness to an unbelieving world.

In Tune with Torah this week = human vindication is self-centered; God’s vindication is redemption centered.  God wants all men everywhere – every nation, tribe and tongue – to recognize Him for Who He is – Creator, Sovereign King, Heavenly Father, Caring Shepherd, Abundant Supplier of all we need, Healer, Deliverer, Redeemer.  He is all that and more and His love for mankind is boundless.  May our individual lives reflect that love to those around us that men and women, boys and girls who have yet to appreciate the goodness of God may learn of it through our lives.

Shabbat Shalom

 

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