Isaiah 48:9 For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, so that I may not cut you off. 10 See, I have refined you, but not like silver; I have tested you in the furnace of adversity. 11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for why should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.
God had been angry with Israel because of their unfaithfulness. But the Lord had apparently deferred his anger. In other words, he’d withheld the kind of judgment Israel deserved. “I have refined you, but not like silver…” (v.10). Why did God take it easy on the people thus far?
“For my own sake… for why should my name be profaned?” (v.11)
God held back wrath because he didn’t want his name sullied by the destruction of Israel – God’s own people. It would make God look bad in the eyes of the other nations. God eventually had a change of heart and brought the full weight of judgment upon Israel as they were conquered by Assyrians and Babylonians. This sort of indecisiveness (back and forth) is not what I would expect of the Creator of heaven and earth.
But then I realize God’s reluctance to bring wrath isn’t borne of indecision, but of mercy. God gave Israel every possible opportunity to turn away from their wicked ways. Ours is a God of second and third changes. For this I am extremely grateful.