LORD’S DAY MORNING SERVICE, 18 August 2019
Sermon Text: Matthew 6:9
I. “HALLOWED” be Your name
II. Hallowed be Your “NAME”
III. “HALLOWED BY YOUR NAME”
IV. Our response to our prayer
A minister visited a Sunday School class in the church he ministered to meet the children and see how their study was going. It was a first-grade group and the minister began asking some questions to the children. One little boy said God created the whole world and everything in it. A little girl said that God loves us very much. Another little girl said that God had a Son named Jesus who came to earth to save us from our sins.
Needless to say, the minister was quite impressed with all the responses. Then, one little boy shouted loudly, ‘I know what God’s NAME is. It’s Harold, same as mine!’ The minister was surprised and looked at him, and the little fellow continued: ‘Sure, we say it all the time – Our Father, who art in heaven, Harold be Thy name.’
We laugh about it, but, sad to say, there are many adults who do not have a much better understanding of “Hallowed be Your name” than young Harold did. This outdated word ‘hallowed’ is in the Lord’s Prayer, and we connect that word to the name of God. To most of us, ‘name’ is nothing more than a convenient form of address. As the result, many people do not have a full or deep understanding of this first petition in the Lord’s Prayer. It seems to many that this line, ‘hallowed be Your name,’ does not mean much.
So, following the message we heard last Sunday, today’s message for us is the second line of the Lord’s Prayer, “Hallowed be Your name,” and its meaning and daily application.
I. “HALLOWED” BE YOUR NAME
So, we begin with word study. What does the word, ‘Hallowed,’ mean? The original Greek word translated into English as ‘hallowed’ means to consider some person/thing ‘sacred’ or ‘holy.’ The point this word makes is to treat someone/thing DIFFERENT, different from ordinary things, of a different quality or essence. In our day, we use the word, ‘holy,’ in a pious sense like we call the book of God’s word as the HOLY Bible or the Lord’s Supper as HOLY Communion. We use HOLY with a religious connotation, but what we mean is that something is sacredly DIFFERENT. That is why we think of God as the HOLY One who is supremely DIFFERENT from men. This difference comes from the fact that God is the Creator whereas we’re creatures, and God is infinite in all His nature and attributes whereas we’re finite.
But that’s not all in this difference. Anything God separates from ordinary way is sacred and holy. An illustration that helps us to understand this is the fourth commandment of the Decalogue as recorded in Ex. 20:8: “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it HOLY.” Is there anything particularly pious with one day of the week as opposed to others? Of course not. This fourth commandment requires of us to keep one day a week, DIFFERENT from the rest. God separated it as a different day from the rest to be kept as the day to worship God and rest in His love and kindness.
‘Hallowed’ also means REVERENCE, a feeling of profound awe, respect and love. So, this second line in the Lord’s Prayer means, ‘Our Father in heaven, may You be given the unique REVERENCE Your name deserves.’ In a word, ‘hallowed’ means sacred, holy, different, and because of all these, reverence.
II. HALLOWED BE YOUR “NAME”
We already heard last Sunday about the God who is our Father in heaven. So, our next point for today is the ‘name.’ What’s in a NAME? The answer is, ‘A lot!’ The NAME of God (or anyone) is more than a means of identification. As far as scripture is concerned, to know God’s name means to know what God is like – I mean, His character, nature and power. Knowing God’s name is, therefore, knowing who He is.
In a sense, everyone knows this as such an understanding is evidenced in their practice. People identify someone’s character with his name, and such is how we name our children. People select a name and give it to their child, based on their impression or understanding of anyone by that name. People usually choose a name of a person they love and respect. In doing so, parents hope that their youngsters would grow up with the same virtues, similar good qualities, of the person they respect and love.
By the same idea or thought, people avoid choosing for their kids any name that is associated with or gives bad impression. We do not name our sons Ahab nor our daughters Jezebel; we would not consider giving even a dog the name Judas Iscariot. Names are chosen to reflect something; they are chosen to reflect character. Names are not chosen lightly, but often reflect our hopes and wishes for our children to acquire corresponding character and abilities to the names. So, it is obvious that everyone understands the correlation between God’s name and His nature and character.
This explains why slander is a sin of violating someone else’s life because any slander brings insult to someone’s ‘name.’ Lev. 19:16 warns us against this sin in these words, “You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbour.”
In this sense, a name is directly connected to the person’s character, nature and reputation. Likewise and more so, God’s name, such as “the Most High,” “Almighty” and “I am,” directly leads us to have an idea of who He is and what He is. In a word, God’s ‘name’ points out God Himself and this is why the third commandment of the Decalogue forbids us to take the name of the LORD our God in ‘vain’ or ‘lacking substance or worth.’
III. “HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME”
Then, what exactly do we mean when we put these words together and say, “Hallowed be Your name”? The answer is that we’re making a petition or plea or appeal to God. This means that we’re not saying, ‘God, Your name is holy.’ No! Instead, we’re saying to God this, ‘O God, please and please make Your name be hallowed, honoured and glorified.’ It’s not a mere statement; rather it’s a humble yet strong request made to God.
In making this petition, we both mean and do at least three things. Firstly, we are PRAISING God. We are affirming that God is indeed the One who should be revered by all human beings, the One who is supremely different because He is the Creator and Ruler of all. We praise God by saying, ‘hallowed be Your name.’
In addition to our praise to Him, we’re also making a CONFESSION to Him. We confess that the reverence God deserves is NOT always held by His creatures. So, when we pray, “Hallowed be Your name,” we mourn for the fact that God is not fully or rightly honoured by each of us; we mourn for the fact that we’re in the midst of a people of ignorance and insolence. By mourning, we also seek the Lord’s forgiveness.
In our act of praise and confession, we too are making a REQUEST to God. And this request is for His ‘hallowedness’ or sacredness be made real in our life. In other words, all believers who pray this Lord’s Prayer and say, “Hallowed be Your name,” may be blessed by the Lord and, through the Holy Spirit’s guidance and wisdom, may understand why and how we must revere God, glorify Him, and acknowledge His will and way always in our life. Still in other words, we’re asking God that His name would not be taken in vain, or used to express disgust or anger, or spoken as a joke. Rather, we’re asking God to change all people – both us who believe, and those without belief – so that we all may regard God’s name with reverence and holy fear. That’s what we’re praying for, when we say, “Hallowed be Your name.”
If God answers to our petition, what would be the outcome? Habakkuk, an OT prophet, has already known what would happen and recorded it in Hab. 2:4, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” He means, true reverence and fear of God would fill everyone’s heart and soul, and the whole world would know the holy God and bow before Him. That’s what would happen if God answers to our petition made with these words, ‘hallowed be Your name.’
Let me explain what this might mean. There will be a unity among people in knowing God and doing His commands. All kinds of misunderstandings about God and His redeeming work through Christ will be corrected. Everything that is incomplete will be filled; anything perverted or distorted will be straightened. Nobody will be able to deny God or water down the nature and power and character of the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our hearts will be nurtured by the right and due reverence to God, and fear of Him. We’re petitioning for that, by saying, “Hallowed be Your name.” So, you see how this second line of the Lord’s Prayer naturally leads us to the following lines, especially the third and the fourth lines of this Prayer, that is, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We’ll have a close look at those lines in the following weeks.
Meanwhile, we’re humbly, yet, firmly asking God to work in us who believe in the Lord Jesus so that we may understand and never forget that God is the centre of our all in all. We seek that our self may be removed from the centre of each one’s life, and God exercise His full control over us as our revered Lord and King.
IV. OUR RESPONSE TO OUR PRAYER
Having said, what is our response to this petition we say and repeat again and again? We’ve learned that this part, “Hallowed be Your name,” is a petition. Then, do we just say, ‘Aha!’, and nod our heads and go home? No, we cannot do that. True reverence begins with intellectual enlightenment or refinement, and is always accompanied by behavioural change. So, praying, “Hallowed be Your name,” we start in our daily life what makes God’s name hallowed or revered. This is what the apostle Paul points out in Phil. 4:9, “Whatever you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
So, our first response to this prayer is that we have a ‘proper attitude toward God’s name.’ A ‘proper attitude’ means, we should regard the Lord as ‘holy,’ different from all creatures, thus, we honour Him in a supreme degree. We respect Him unlike the way we treat any human being. We esteem God unlike the way we might do people like the PM of Australia or the queen or the president of the US. I don’t mean this in a theoretical and ideological aspect only, but in a realistic and practical way also. So, beginning of a day in our life, we recognise God as the Giver of a new and fresh day alongside all His blessings, and give thanks to Him. We continue our days always revering Him. And on the Lord’s Days, coming to His worship, our inward reverence and awe toward Him should be reflected on our outward attitude.
The second response to our prayer, “hallowed be Your name,” flows from our proper attitude to God’s name, that is, we honour God’s name in this world we live in. Once we revere God’s name, our such attitude is naturally and automatically expressed in our words and deeds. And the world around us sees it because our reverence to God cannot be hidden from their eyes. Moreover, our Lord Jesus teaches us in Mt. 5:16 that we should be rather active than passive in showing it to the world, urging us in these words, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” We don’t hide our proper attitude to God and His name; we’re not shy of being respectful toward our holy God. The apostle Paul is firm in this, saying in Rom. 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel,” and his reason for this is because the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
The last response I’d like to point out to you is our mutual love and fellowship among believers and members of Christ’s church. This is, in fact, a natural flow of our response to the prayer, “hallowed be Your name,” because your reverence to God and showing the world your proper attitude toward God is, in a word, you’re loving your fellow Christians who are your brothers and sisters in Jesus. 1 Jn. 4:19-20 is clear about this, telling us that “we love [one another] because He [God] first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar.”
So, “Hallowed be Your name” is not just a pious phrase, nor a plain statement, describing God as simply a holy ‘being.’ It is rather a deep and rich petition made to God, seeking that He may actively make His name be honoured and glorified by all – both believers and non-believers. We seek that our God may make us, believers, to give all due glory and reverence to Him now and always.
At the same time, we make a promise to God to actively commit ourselves to give Him our full respect inwardly and outwardly. So, we’ll love one another in Jesus, and show the world that we belong to Jesus as Jn. 13:35 urges us, saying, “By THIS, all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have LOVE for one another.”
So, let us say this second line of the Lord’s Prayer with a full understanding, meaning what we petition to our Heavenly Father. Saying this should never be to any of us like that little Sunday School boy’s misunderstanding; God’s name is not ‘Harold,’ but His name must be hallowed, honoured and revered.
God help us as we say and do these words of the Lord’s Prayer in our life to the glory of His great and holy name. Amen. ***