The Bible links our name with our reputation. God even changed people’s names as He dealt with them, to give them a new identity or reputation.
God changed the names of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob and Simon. And God called people by alternative names to point out something in their character. For example, God referred to Israel as ‘Sodom’, to show that God’s people had fallen away from God.
Our reputation is built on all the names that would be ascribed to us, describing our character. A good name is the same as having a good reputation.
“A good name is to be preferred over great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1
God’s reputation is expressed in the many names for God. When God declared His name, He was declaring His reputation. When God defended His name, He was defending His reputation.
When God says He has put His name in some place, it is the same as saying He has staked His reputation in that place.
When Solomon dedicated the glorious Temple he built for God he asked that God’s name be placed there.
“The Lord told him, I have consecrated this house which you built to put my name there forever, and my eyes and my heart will be there perpetually.” 1Kings 9:3
One of the key elements of God’s name, or God’s reputation, was revealed to Moses and was often called on by God’s people in the centuries since. It is the quality of ‘mercy’.
Moses asked permission to see God, so God showed a portion of Himself to Moses. As He did, He declared a description of Himself, including His character of mercy.
“The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin …” Exodus 34:6,7
God had already declared His quality of mercy when God spoke directly to the Israelites from Mount Sinai.
“You shall not bow down to idols or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on their children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving devotion to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:5,6
So part of God’s good name is being a God of mercy, who forgives those who don’t deserve to be forgiven. This is a vital aspect of God we rely on all the time.
None of us is righteous and nothing we do can make us right with God. We desperately rely on God being a God Who forgives and Who gives mercy to those who deserve judgement. This quality is a key to God’s reputation.
So when the Israelites sinned in the wilderness and God suggested He would wipe them out and build a new nation out of Moses, Moses protested and pointed out that it would be bad for God’s name; God’s reputation.
“The Lord said to Moses, I have seen this people, and they are indeed a stiff-necked people. Now therefore, let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” Exodus 32:9,10
“Why should the Egyptians say, He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people.” Exodus 32:12
God showed mercy to those who offended Him, because that is consistent with God’s name and reputation. Repeatedly God has had to do this, including in each of our lives.
When the prophetic worshipper, Asaph, saw vision of God’s future judgement on Israel he pleaded with God, based on God’s name and reputation.
“Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Help us, God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us and purge away our sins for your name’s sake.” Psalm 79:8,9
Later the prophet Jeremiah pleaded with God, based on God’s name.
“We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, and the guilt of our fathers. Truly, we have sinned against You. For the sake of Your name do not despise us; do not disgrace Your glorious throne. Remember Your covenant with us; do not break it.” Jeremiah 14:20,21
God’s reputation is that He shows mercy to those who don’t deserve it. However, it is not given away like lollies at a party. It is given to those who seek it.
Jesus has paid for the sins of the whole world, so everyone can be saved. But not everyone will be saved. Only those who put their faith in Jesus will receive the mercy, salvation and forgiveness God has made available.
For all those who recognise that they are sinners and who want to be right with God, and who put their faith in Jesus to save them, God displays His character of mercy.
To those who reject God, God displays His judgement upon the wicked.
Friends, none of us deserves to be made right with God. We repeatedly fall short of God’s standards and deserve to be judged and punished, like the nation of Israel through the centuries. But God will uphold His name when we call on Him to be Who He declared Himself to be; a God of mercy.
May the mercy of God be freely released to you today as you call on Him for salvation, repent of your failings and rely on God upholding His glorious Mercy Reputation.