The Name of God by James R. Coggins

When we think of praising the name of God, we often think of doing this verbally, as in the psalms, which were the Old Testament worship songs: “I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you” (Psalm 22:22 NIV); “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands” (Psalm 63:4); “I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever” (Psalm 86:12). We do something similar in church services today. Sometimes we do something similar by posting Bible verses on Facebook or other social media.

We need to think of the issue in larger terms. The name of God refers to “Yahweh,” the name by which God chose to reveal Himself. But the name of God is also the reputation of God. Consider these verses from Ezekiel, written about the Jews after they had been sent into exile in Babylon:

• “And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the Lord’s people, and yet they had to leave his land’” (Ezekiel 36:20).

• “I had concern for my holy name, which the people of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone” (Ezekiel 36:21).

• “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone’” (Ezekiel 36:22)

• “I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes” (Ezekiel 36:23).

• “I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel” (Ezekiel 39:7).

• “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The people of Israel will never again defile my holy name—neither they nor their kings—by their prostitution and the funeral offerings for their kings at their death” (Ezekiel 43:7)

• “When they placed their threshold next to my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them, they defiled my holy name by their detestable practices. So I destroyed them in my anger” (Ezekiel 43:8).

Consider this similar comment from the prophet Amos: “They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name” (Amos 2:7).

Consider also these words from the prophet Jeremiah, Ezekiel’s contemporary, who was prophesying in Judah in the last days before Jerusalem fell: “’For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and in my name they have uttered lies—which I did not authorize. I know it and am a witness to it,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:23); “But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again” (Jeremiah 34:16).

Regardless of what the people of Israel said they were doing in the temple of Jerusalem, they were not glorifying God’s name. They were not enhancing God’s reputation. Instead, they were profaning God’s name among the other nations. By their actions, they were declaring to the world that God was not all-seeing or all-powerful or holy. They were declaring that God overlooked and tolerated sin, murder, lies, theft, and oppression of the poor.

Similarly, the reputation of the Christian God does not rest on the songs we sing in church or the Bible verses we post on social media. It rests on our actions seen by the people among whom we live. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Later, when the Jewish religious leaders were astonished by the courage and wisdom of the apostles, “they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).  But when church leaders engage in sexual abuse, when they make ridiculous claims in the religious and political realms, when Christians are racist, when Christians neglect or oppress the poor, when televangelists defraud the poor to enrich themselves, we damage the reputation of Jesus Christ. We profane rather than glorify the name of God, and God will not let that continue. That is why judgement begins “with God’s household” (1 Peter 4:17).

About jrcoggins

James R. Coggins is a professional writer and editor based in British Columbia, Canada. He wrote his first novel in high school, but, fortunately for his later reputation as a writer, it was never published. He briefly served as a Christian magazine editor (for just over 20 years). He has written everything from scholarly and encyclopedia articles to jokes in Reader’s Digest (the jokes paid better). His six and a half published books include four John Smyth murder mysteries and one other, stand-alone novel. In his spare time, he operates Mill Lake Books, a small publishing imprint. His website is
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1 Response to The Name of God by James R. Coggins

  1. Yes. We need to consider all these things and praise Him.


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