"Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord God: "I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord," says the Lord God, "when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations." Ezekiel 36:22-30 (NKJV)
"It's not you, it's me"...the classic breakup line. I once was broken up with by someone using if not those exact words then something to their effect. I may have even used them myself once. Maybe you've heard them or used them, too--if not in a breakup then perhaps in some other context. They do make for an easy, supposedly "nice" excuse to get out of something or to let ourselves off the hook. But we all know what those words really mean: it is you, but I don't want to make you feel any worse.
In these verses from Ezekiel, God says something to the effect of "It's not you, it's me" to the nation of Israel, but here it's not a breakup but a reconciliation...not an excuse but a reason. Israel has turned away from God, and so God has allowed them to be taken into captivity and exiled from the land he promised them. In their captivity, they have continued to disobey God and turn away from Him, and so they have profaned His name among the nations. In a sense, they've made a laughing-stock of God, and that's something God isn't willing to let stand.
So He makes this promise to them: He will take them out of captivity and restore them to their own land. He will wash away all their uncleanness and make them increase and know abundance. He will soften their hearts and put His spirit in them. He will be their God, and they will be His people. He will lavish love upon them.
And all this is not because of anything Israel has done--rather, it's in spite of what they've done. It's because of who God is. "It's not you, it's me," God says to Israel, and He says it to us, too. It's not because of who you are that God lavishes His love upon you, but because of who He is. It's because of who He is that He reconciles us to Himself and gives us His spirit.
I find it comforting to know that God loves me because of who He is rather than who I am. I don't always feel very loveable or worthy of such lavish attention, and beyond feelings, I know I am not worthy of such love. But He loves me anyways.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1)
In your prayer time today, reflect on the ways God has shown His love for you even when you don't deserve it. Give thanks and praise to Him for showing that love through His son, Jesus.