20:44 — “Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel,” says the Lord God.
If God did not deal with us on the basis of His mercy and grace, none of us would have any hope of a happy future. But because He acts according to His loving nature, we have the brightest future imaginable.
20:44 you will know. God purposed all of this great restoration so that repentant, renewed Israel knew that He is the Lord, a key theme, as in v. 38. Also, those of other nations will know by this who He is and render Him due reverence (v. 41; 36:23, 36).
20:44 for the sake of my name Yahweh didn’t punish them according to what they deserved for their sin. He punished but then saved for the sake of His reputation (see note on Ezek 20:9).
20:44 The first fulfillment of this promise (when I have dealt with you for the sake of my name) took place immediately after the exile. It also awaits a future fulfillment, according to Paul in Rm 11:25. When used in application to morality, the term corrupt acts occurs elsewhere only in Gn 6:11–12 where it describes the corruption of the human race before the flood.
44. Here at length God pronounces that his glory would be chiefly conspicuous in the pity which he bestowed upon those who were desperate and abandoned, gratuitously and solely with respect to his own name. Hence Paul so specially celebrates the grace of God in the first chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, as that mercy by which God deigns to call his own elect in a peculiar sense—his glory; for his glory extends further than his pity. (Ver. 6, 12, 14.) As thy name, so thy praise is extended through all lands, (Ps. 68:10;) for God deserves no less glory when he destroys the wicked than when he pities his own people. But Paul calls that gratuitous favour glory par excellence, by which God embraced his own elect when he adopted them. So also it is said in this passage, then ye shall know that I am Jehovah, since I shall deal with you on behalf of my name, and not according to your sins. But when God wishes his glory to shine conspicuously in gratuitous pity, hence we gather that the enemies of his glory were too gross and open, who obscure his mercy, or extenuate it, or as far as they can, endeavour to reduce it to nothing. But we know the teaching of the papacy to be that God’s gratuitous goodness either lies buried or enfolded in dark obscurity, or utterly vanishes away: for they have invented a system of general merits which they oppose to God’s gratuitous favour. For they distinguish merits into preparations, good works acquiring God’s favour, and satisfactions, by which they buy off the penalties to which they were subjected. Afterwards they add what they call the suffrages of the saints; for they fabricate for themselves numberless patrons, and various reasonings are concocted for the purpose of obscuring God’s glory, or at least of allowing only a few sparks to be visible. Since therefore the whole papacy tends that way, we see that they professedly oppose God’s glory, and those who defend such abominations are sworn enemies of God’s glory.
For ourselves, then, let us learn that we cannot otherwise worship God with acceptance unless we adopt whatever pleases him as pertaining to our salvation. For if we wish to come to a debtor and creditor account, or to consider that he is in the slightest degree indebted to us, we in this way diminish his glory, and as far as lies in our power we despoil ourselves of that inestimable privilege which the Prophet now commends. Hence let us desire to acknowledge God in this way, since he treats us with amazing clemency and pity out of regard for his own name, and not according to our sins. And since that was said to his ancient people because they returned to the land of Canaan, how much more ought God’s gratuitous goodness to be extolled by us, when his heavenly kingdom is at this day open to us, and when he openly calls us to himself in heaven, and to the hope of that happy immortality which has been obtained for us through Christ?
Ver. 44.—“For my Name’s sake.” The grounds of the Divine action are not man’s deserts, but considerations in regard to God himself. This is the secret of our hope. “He hath not dealt with us after our sins” (Ps. 103:10). He hath dealt with us after his Name. God’s Name stands for what is known of him—his revelation of himself; it also represents his fame, and then his honour—as we should say, his “good name.” No doubt the latter is the meaning of God’s Name in the present instance, although this rests upon the former meaning, and in a measure includes it. Our word “character” has this twofold meaning—what is known to be in a person and the reputation he bears—the subjective and the objective characters. We may say that God saves us for the sake of his own character in both senses.
- His public character. 1. God is honoured by his fidelity. His name is pledged to his word. His promise involves his Name. When a man has put his name to a deed, he is bound to fulfil its conditions. If he fails, his name is dishonoured. Promoters make great efforts to secure for their enterprises names that will inspire confidence. God will keep his word for the sake of his credit—for this at least, though we know also for deeper reasons. 2. God is honoured by his success. The name of the artist goes with his work. If he sends out a bad piece of work, his name suffers. Now, Israel was God’s rescued people. All the world gazed in wonder and admiration when the poor helpless slaves were wrested by Divine power from the iron grip of Pharaoh. They were seen to be a nation made by God, his workmanship. If they came to ruin after this, God would seem to have failed. Moses used this argument (Exod. 32:12). 3. God is honoured by his mercy. Cruel earthly monarchs of the old heathen type were proud to record on their tablets the number of kings they had slain, and the number of cities they had sacked. We have learnt to see a greater royal dignity in the saying of William III. concerning a certain nonjuror, “The man has determined to be a martyr, but I have determined to prevent him.” God is more honoured by saving the world than he would be by damning it.
- His personal character. 1. God acts from regard to truth. After all, it is but as an accommodation to human views that God can be said to keep his promises for the sake of his reputation, that his Name may not be dishonoured. He is essentially true and eternally constant. Though men may provoke him to change, he is firm and holds on to his purpose. Thus Christ persisted in his saving work, even when those whom he came to bless rejected him. He had a great purpose, and no action of man would turn him from it. 2. God acts from regard to righteousness. He desires to establish righteousness, and to extend its domain. For this purpose it will not be well that sin should be left to run its own fatal course unchecked, nor will it be best simply to visit the sin with vengeance, and to cut down the evil tree root and branch, sweeping the sinner with his sin into utter destruction. A silent desolation, in which every enemy lies low, smitten to death, is not the noblest victory. The conquest of the foe by his conversion to friendship is far higher. This is God’s method. His righteousness is most honoured by the regeneration of sinners. 3. God acts from regard to love. His name is love. When we penetrate to the heart of God, love is what we see there. If, then, his Name expresses his inmost character, when God acts for his Name’s sake he acts in love. Therefore, though he might smite, extirpate, and destroy them, he redeems, saves, and restores his unworthy children.
 Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Eze 20:44). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Eze 20:44). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Calvin, J., & Myers, T. (2010). Commentary on the First Twenty Chapters of the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (Vol. 2, pp. 344–345). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.