A few months ago while we were studying the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:9 stuck out to me, where Jesus instructs his followers how to pray. The first thing he tells them to ask is, “Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” After studying the passage, I had wanted to explore some of the scriptures where we are specifically directed to do just that–to hallow God’s name. On Monday night we had the opportunity to do just that together. Here are the notes:
Hallowing God’s Name // 8.3.2015
Matthew 6:9 – “Hallowed Be Your Name” To “hallow” means to “sanctify.” To make sacred, or to acknowledge as sacred. It means to set something apart as totally unique and pure, or, to set it apart as holy. This is usually done for people or for things. But a few places we’re told to “sanctify” or “hallow” God.
How can we “set God apart as Holy”?
Isaiah 8:11-14 This (v.11) was the basic way of the culture of Isaiah’s time: (v.12) …living in fear. But Isaiah and his community were to exhibit a sense of calm that was not freaked out by what was making everybody anxious. They were not to be characterized by anxiety, either from geo-political events everyone was talking about, or by threats from those who opposed them. (v. 13) Instead, they were to fear God. In order to figure out how the Lord seems to mean for us to “fear” him as he spoke through Isaiah, let’s think about something a little easier–How do people “fear” the other things Isaiah mentions?
- When they hear about them, they believe they exist
- They believe they will affect their lives
- They listen to the pronouncements of the threats, and try to figure out what to do in response
- They think about how to protect themselves
- They Honor those making the threats, if necessary
In other words, the presence of those who they are afraid of begins to dominate their thinking and their decisions. Their emotional state is anxious, and their decision making is unstable. So, to “fear God” in this way is to acknowledge that he exists, and that he is present. It means we listen to the things he says and we respond accordingly. (You always obey the one you fear.) Since God is always present, his attribute of holiness begins to dominate our thinking and decision making—we know that the Holy God is always with us, and it leads us to live holy lives. What we think and do is always done in reference to Him above anything else. We constantly ask ourselves: How does God and who He is figure in to this decision?
Here, Moses and Aaron were in an incredibly stressful situation. God provided, but they messed up their part–they misrepresented him and colored the way people would experience his help. It also seems like they kind of took credit for what (must “we” get you water?) and they were acting as if they really were the ones who were getting the water. But even though God had acted, no one would have been able to tell how calm God was in the situation by watching Moses and Aaron. So here, not hallowing God’s name means letting the stress of the situation get to you so that you freak out at people and misrepresent him.
1 Peter 3:8-17
The Christians Peter wrote to were facing opposition and possibly suffering for following Christ. He quotes Isaiah 8 for them, and adds to the negative response (“don’t fear”) a positive one (do be ready to give a humble, reasoned explanation of your message). So hallowing God’s name for Peter looks like not letting fear drive us to silence or to adopting the same tactics as those who don’t know God (v.9—reviling for reviling)
- To “Hallow” God’s name means that we live with a consciousness of his constant presence, and his holiness becomes a dominant concern for our lives.
- Consequently everything we do is done in reference to who he is and how near he is. We don’t speak or act like he’s not around—as if we’re alone and unprotected in a hostile world, with only our own wits to protect us; or as if everything in our lives depends on us and our efforts. To act this way ignores God’s presence. When we live this way we fail to honor him for who he is, especially for people who don’t know him yet, or who are weak in their faith and need encouragement.
- When we pray for God’s name to be hallowed, we ask for everything in the world to become aware of his presence and his holiness and for nothing to ignore him any longer. But the bible tells us that if we know Christ and follow him, we start with ourselves—we become ground zero for this new way of moving through life. We learn how to bring every word and action into line with this awesome, huge truth of the God who is always present and always holy. Then people will always see these two truths about God.
- Peter adds that if we’re living and thinking this way, we’ll know it by our readiness to speak to people about what we believe. If I won’t speak to people about it, it may be that I’m fearing things other than God…and so I’m not hallowing his name before them, because I’m scared of them.
- …Which begs the question for everyone—do you know the constant presence of God in your life?