Hallowed Be Thy Name

What comes to your mind when you think about God? There is perhaps no more important reality facing mankind than its idea of GOD. The most serious reality facing you is about God Himself. So what comes to your mind when you think about God? We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. If we could know exactly what our most influential leaders think about God today, we might be able to predict with some precision where the Church will be tomorrow. Without a doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God. Thought and speech are God’s gifts to creatures made in His image. It is highly significant that the first word was the – ‘Word.’ ‘And the Word as with God and the Word was God.’  We may speak because God spoke. In Him word and idea are indivisible .

There is perhaps no other sin more hateful to God than idolatry. The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It begins in the mind and may be present when no outward act of worship has taken place. Paul said – “For even though they knew God, they did not honour Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). Then came the worship of idols fashioned after the likeness of men, birds, beasts, and creeping things, but the series of degrading acts began in the mind. Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow – they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as is they were true.

The greatest challenge facing us today in the Church of Jesus Christ is to purify and elevate our concept of God, until once more it is worthy of Him!

The reality of God’s name being taken in vain is common in all periods of human history and in all places of the earth. In fact the Psalmist addresses the same concern in his generation in Psalm 74:18 – ‘Remember how the enemy has mocked You, O LORD, how foolish people have reviled Your name.’ So we see in the 3rd Commandment – a negative side that forbids every wrong use of God’s name and a positive side that demands that we use His name with reverence and awe. Why?  God’s name is more than just a title or label. His name embodies His character, His purposes, His works, the sum total of all He is! Solomon says in Proverbs 18:10 – ‘The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.’ By revealing Himself in a variety of ways, God is graciously accommodating Himself to our finite thinking. For only God truly knows God. Our creature hood requires God to reveal Himself if we are to have an adequate knowledge of Him. We find ourselves echoing the same thing as Agur in Proverbs 30:3-4…‘I have neither learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if you know?’ We should be zealous and careful to honour God’s name with godly reverence…Psalm 138:2 – ‘You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.’

‘Those who know Thy name put their trust in Thee’ – (Psalm 9:10). The better we know the name of God – the more we will trust Him. The more we trust Him – the more risks we will take for the sake of His glory, the more bold we will be in our witness, the less dependent we will be upon our material comforts, and the more readily we will volunteer for active duty in whatever area of life that God calls us. I would like you to think of the Biblical revelation of God as the tip of an iceberg floating in an ocean of mystery. Nine-tenths of God’s majesty lies beneath the surface of revelation and the tip of the iceberg revealed in Scripture is so high that it extends out of sight Into the clouds beyond anyone’s ability to comprehend if fully! Only a tenth of His character is given to us in this age for our contemplation and even this is so great, that we will never exhaust its riches!

Let’s explore the positive aspect of hallowing the name of our God. In Jesus’ instructional prayer in Matthew 6, He teaches us that the first priority in praying is to ask that our heavenly Father’s name be hallowed…Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name’ (Matthew 6:9). Notice that this is a petition or a request. It is not a declaration, as I thought it was for years! It is a request to God that He would see to it that His own name be hallowed. Don’t you find this interesting? Jesus is telling us to ask God, who is infinitely jealous for the honour of His own name, to see to it that His name be hallowed. This teaches us a couple of things: (1) Prayer does not move God to do things that He is not inclined to doing. God has every intention to cause His name to be hallowed. In fact, I would say there is nothing higher on God’s list of priorities. (2) Prayer is God’s way of bringing our priorities into line with His. God wills to make great things the consequence of our prayers when our prayers are the consequence of His great purposes. When you bring your heart into line with the jealousy of God to hallow His name, you will pray with great effect. So let your first priority in prayer and in life be the hallowing of God’s name!

But what does it mean to hallow God’s name’ ? The word ‘hallow’ means to sanctify. The same Greek word stands behind both English words. Jesus tells us to pray, ‘Let Your name be sanctified.’ Sanctify can mean make holy or treat as holy. When God sanctifies us, it means He makes us holy – but when we sanctify God, it means we treat Him as holy. So Jesus is teaching us to pray that God would cause His name to be treated as holy. Well, how do we do that? What does it mean to hallow God – to treat God as holy? What are we asking God to do when we pray that He would cause His name to be treated as holy? To answer this question, let’s look at a few passages of Scripture where this word ‘hallow’ or ‘sanctify’ or ‘treat as holy’ is used in relation to God. Each of these will gives us an idea of  what it means to hallow the name of God.

During the time that Israel was wandering in the wilderness, there came a time when they had no water and the people began to murmur and complain against Moses. God tells Moses to speak to the rock and to bring forth water for the people, but Moses’ spirit is bitter and he speaks rashly – striking the rock twice with his rod. The water comes rushing out, but so does the stinging words of God to Moses! In Numbers 20:12 we read, Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Notice the words…you did not believe Me, to hallow Me. These words shed light on what it means to hallow the name of God. It means to believe Him. The first way to treat God as holy is to trust what He says! Instead of a peaceful confidence in the power of God to respond to a mere word, Moses was bitter and impulsive. God is not hallowed when we do not have a settled confidence and peace in His word.
John said in 1 John 5:10 – ‘He who does not believe in God has made Him a liar.’ When you make someone a liar – you profane that person’s name. This is the opposite to treating them as holy. Not trusting God is the exact opposite of hallowing His name. So the first thing we could say about hallowing God’s name is –  ‘Father, let Your name be trusted…trusted be Your Word.’

God is speaking to Isaiah and warning him not to be like the people of Israel in Isaiah 8:12-13…“Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. How do you hallow God according to this passage? You hallow God by not fearing what men fear but fearing God. When God commands you to take your stand for Him in a hostile or difficult situation, you should fear displeasing God more than you fear the hostility of man. Don’t fear losing your wife, your children, your house, your bank account, fear the prospect of saying ‘no to God!’ He will compensate you for all your worldly losses when you obey Him, but when you set yourself to oppose His will, no one can compensate for the eternal consequences of that act. So here hallowing God’s name is – ‘Father, let Your name feared…may we have such a high view of You that it is a much more dreadful thing to lose Your approval than to lose anything the world can offer…feared by Your Name.’

Make it the passion of your heart and the pursuit of your mind in 2013 to know and hallow the name of God. 

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