This song was born out of a devotional time in Ezekiel 36. This chapter is typically known for its new covenant language, for example in verse 26 where the Lord says, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.” But there is something bigger happening in this chapter – God not only promises to redeem His people from their sins, and give them new hearts that they might “walk in His statutes,” but He tells us why He will do it:
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. (vs. 22-23)
Surely God redeems people because of His great love and mercy, but here He declares that His redemption is about His honor – His reputation, the glory of His holy name. He cannot let their unfaithfulness go unpunished, or He would cease being the holy and just Judge of the universe. And how does He “vindicate the holiness of [His] great name?” Ultimately, at the cross, where Jesus absorbed all of the holy wrath and jealousy due us because of our sin. He did this in order that God might be able to justify (pardon) His people and at the same time remain just. This is what Paul says in Romans 3:26: “so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
As we contemplate the greatness of God’s fame and eternal plans, and the fact that His purpose in saving us is so much bigger than our own lives, we might begin to feel small. But losing ourselves in His glory means finding ourselves in His story – the great story of redemption that will one day culminate when we are able to see His glory face to face. May we sing to our glorious God with humble and awestruck thanksgiving for His saving purposes, and may we long for the day when we can experience the fullness of His glory.