Friday, May 15, 2020

Reflections on God: Hallowed Be Thy Name

We are going to take another look at the Lord's Prayer so that we can reflect a bit on God. This time we're going to consider the first petition of the prayer: Hallowed be Thy name.

The word 'hallow' is not complicated. Explaining it won't take much. But it's important to be very clear about the word 'name'. So, I'm going to spend a little time on that one.

In our culture, for the most part, a person's name is simply a label that you can use to refer to that person. But in the Bible, a name had greater significance. A name was a description of some aspect of the person named.

Let me start with some familiar examples of this. God changed Abram's name to Abraham. He did that when He promised him that he would be a father of a multitude, which is what Abraham means.

Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter, a rock, and He did that when He told Simon,
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
 And then, there is, of course, Jesus own name. In Hebrew, it means 'the LORD is salvation'.

And all of this explains that verse in the beginning of Genesis.
Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. Genesis 2:19
Adam wasn't handing out labels. He was identifying some aspect of the animal by the name that he gave it.

Now, we're ready to introduce the notion of God's name. Remember this is more than a label. It is a description of some aspect of God. However, no one names God. He names Himself. So, in the Bible, God's name is His own revelation of some aspect of who He is.

Here are just a few examples:

The Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 1.4)
The Almighty (Genesis 49.25)
The Most High (Psalm 7.17)
Redeemer (Job 19.25)

It's important to note that while God reveals aspects of who He is by formal names, like those in my list, He also does that by using imagery. So, He describes Himself as a shepherd (Psalm 23.1), a husband (Isaiah 54.5) and an eagle (Exodus 19.4)

And then, there are times when He uses concepts. Here's one example.
Him to whom we must give an account (Hebrews 4.13)
All of these, and lots more, are included in 'God's Name', a description of some aspect of God.

Now, for the other word, 'hallowed'. The word here can also be translated 'make holy', 'make sacred' or 'consecrate'. This is about setting something apart as special because of what it is and treating it appropriately.

Now, in light of all of this, what does Jesus call us to pray for in this petition? He wants us to pray that God's name would be set apart as special because of what it is.

What exactly does that mean? How do we consecrate or make special God's name? Be careful. It's about more than how we respond to a label like 'God Almighty' or 'Jesus'. It's about how we respond to Him as He has revealed Himself to us. We respond to Him as the special person that He is.

So, consider a few of the names that I've mentioned.

How are you to respond to God as 'the Holy One'? One appropriate response would be to be serious about the work of killing off your sins, as the Apostle calls for in, for example, Colossians 3.5-6, and when you fail at that, to offer to Him an honest acknowledgement of your sin (aka: 'confession').

How are you to respond to God as your 'shepherd'? It would make sense for you to rest in His care, trusting Him to provide for your needs and to protect you from whatever comes down the pike.

And how are you to respond to God as 'Him to whom we must give an account'? Personally, I think that this is obvious. Work at preparing now for the day when your life will be evaluated. (See, for example, 2 Corinthians 5.10.)

So, here's the point. Your life is about understanding God's name (how He has revealed Himself) and working hard to hallow that name (responding wisely to what He has revealed). This is true for you not because you are a Christian. This is true for you simply because you are someone created by God. And that means that it's true for everybody.

It only makes sense, then, to pray for more of the grace that Jesus provides. I would suggest that you pray for the desire as well as the ability to get to know Him better, that is, to understand more of how He has revealed Himself, and also to pray for the desire as well as the ability to respond appropriately to what He shows you.

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