My understanding is that God saves us because he loves us.
John 3:16 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Whereas when I read Ezekiel God seems to come across as an ego-centric wanker who doesn’t actually care about Israel and only saves them from their sins in order to show off his power and glorify himself.
One example in particular jumped out at me when I was at a protestant bible study last night. It made me very uncomfortable. Forgive the long quote but it’s worth reading the entire passage.
Ezekiel 36 The Renewal of Israel
16 The word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their doings; their conduct before me was like the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity. 18 So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood which they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it. 19 I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries; in accordance with their conduct and their deeds I judged them. 20 But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that men said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ 21 But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel caused to be profaned among the nations to which they came.
**22 “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. **23 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, says the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. 28 You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses; and I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominable deeds. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, says the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.
33 “Thus says the Lord God: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. 34 And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. 35 And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now inhabited and fortified.’ 36 Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places, and replanted that which was desolate; I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.
37 “Thus says the Lord God: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their men like a flock. 38 Like the flock for sacrifices,** like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”**
I don’t mind that he gets glorified by saving Israel (us), but surely that is a secondary issue and the main reason he saves us is because he loves us. If his primary motivation is to glorify his holy name… I just don’t see how that is love: it is self-centred rather than other-serving. Ezekiel seems to lend a lot of support to the Calvinist position that the purpose of everything is to glorify God.
I was talking to my fiancee about this, and she had no problem with this passage whatsoever (she is a fundamentalist/Calvinist. We are a strange match). She seems to find it absolutely natural and perfectly acceptable that the main reason God saves us is to glorify himself, and that he doesn’t do it because he loves us. She maintains that God is allowed to be selfish because he is God - he is all-powerful, completely sovereign and can therefore do whatever he wants. When we are selfish it is a sin but when God is selfish it is perfectly acceptable.
I refuse to worship such a God and I don’t believe that this is truly how God regards us, yet I’m finding it hard to square my opinion with what I’m reading in Ezekiel. Does anyone with some insight have an apologetic/explanation for how God is presented in Ezekiel? I’m particularly troubled by the highlighted parts of the passage above. Is God really so ego-centric?