It is true that when children have been asked to write down the words of the Lord’s Prayer, some have written “Harold be Your Name.” That is quite understandable for those youngsters who have heard the prayer but not seen it in written form. But “Harold” is not the name of the Lord. It is obvious that if this world is created by God the only way we could know His name is if He chose to reveal it. Fortunately for us He has done precisely that. We read about it for example in Exodus 3 where God appears to Moses.
1). WHAT IS THE NAME OF GOD?
Moses asked God what name he should use in describing God to the Israelites whom he was to lead, Exo 3:13, ‘Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” The answer is given by God, 14) “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” 15) God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” The people were to understand that the God who had appeared to Moses was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His name would remain the same through all generations for ever.
There is real significance in the name God gave to Moses. God revealed Himself as “I AM WHO I AM”. The word comes from the Hebrew verb “to be”, and is translated as “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or simply “YHWH”. It could also mean, “I will be what I will be.” In the words of the Bible Believers Commentary on Exod 3:13-14, “The name proclaims God as self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, and sovereign. The fuller name I AM WHO I AM may mean I AM BECAUSE I AM or I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE.” Eternal. Infinite. Self-sufficient. Supremely majestic.
2). WHAT IS MEANT BY THE “NAME” OF GOD?
The “name” stands for all that the person is in character, as well as for all the person has done and is doing. There are many other names used to describe God. Many of them were revealed to humans by God Himself. For example, He told Abraham that His name was El Shaddai, the Lord “God Almighty”, Gen 17:1 “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.” He later told Jacob the same thing, Gen 35:11. In the meantime Isaac told Jacob that “God Almighty” would bless him as he searched for a wife, Gen 28:3. Later Jacob (now Israel) desired that “God Almighty” bless his sons as they sought to bring Joseph and Benjamin back to him, Gen 43:14. Later still Jacob (Israel) told Joseph that it was “God Almighty” who had appeared to him at Luz in the land of Canaan and had promised to bless him, Gen 48:3. The word describes the almighty power of God who is able to intervene in human circumstances.
Another name is Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide) is found in Gen 22:14 “So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” God did provide a lamb for sacrifice instead of Abraham offering up Isaac. There are other names which signify aspects of God’s character and His dealings with His people. (See Note 1 below).
In the New Testament we see fewer names for God. The main word for “God” throughout the New Testament is “theos” which is used of God (YHWH). [“Theos” is also used sparingly of false gods (see Note 2). He is described for example as “Saviour” (see Note 3)]. He is described as “Father”, as “the Lord”, the “Lord God”, the ‘living God”, the “Most High God”, the “God of glory”, the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”, the “True God”, the “God of peace”, the “God of comfort” and a few other names in association with “theos”. However it should be noted that “kurios” (Lord) is often used of God the Father as a stand-alone title or in association with other titles. “Kurios” is also used of Jesus the Son as Lord. When Jesus gave His disciples the Lord’s Prayer as a model of prayer He still had to go to the cross to die for humankind. He still had to rise from the dead and be seen by many of His followers. He still had to ascend into heaven and be seated at the right hand of God. Paul reminds us in Phil 2 that God raised Jesus from the dead and exalted Him to heaven. Not only that but He bestowed on Him the name which is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus all should bow in worship and submission to Him as Lord, Php 2:8-11, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (9) Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, (10) so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
What that means in practice is that when we are praying the Lord’s Prayer we need to remember that in praying for God’s name to be hallowed, we need also to hallow the name that God Himself has hallowed by placing it above every other name, namely the name of Jesus. To fail to give Jesus His rightful place in our lives as Lord is to be guilty of not honouring or hallowing the name of God.
3). GOD’S NAME MAY BE “HALLOWED” OR IT MAY BE “PROFANED”
This is seen in many Old Testament passages. Eg., in Lev 22:32, “And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you.” The word for “profane” is (chalal) and can refers to profaning God’s name and to defilement such as sexual immorality or desecration of holy things. YHWH expressed through Moses and through the prophets His concern that His people would profane His name by their disregard for His law and commandments. For example in (Lev 22:2) “Speak to Aaron and his sons so that they abstain from the holy things of the people of Israel, which they dedicate to me, so that they do not profane my holy name: I am the LORD.”
YHWH would not allow His name to continue to be profaned. He warned through Ezekiel 36:23, “And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.”
It seems then that God’s people could “hallow” or “sanctify” His name by obedience to Him or they could profane His name by neglecting to follow Him and His laws. They were accountable. Their belief and their behaviour did matter to God. He wanted His people to show forth His character in the lives they lived in fellowship with Him and in obedience to Him.
4). HOW CAN WE HALLOW GOD’S NAME TODAY?
It means taking God seriously. Very seriously indeed! His name is not hallowed when it is used for swearing, curses and improper speech of any kind. Nor is it hallowed when those who belong to Him, who are called His name, live in such a way that His holiness is not displayed in and through their lives. How then can one “hallow God’s name” today?
i). We hallow His name by submitting every aspect of our lives to Him and to His word.
ii). We hallow His name by agreeing with His verdict on human sin in all its forms and recognising that only Jesus could redeem people from their sin.
iii). We hallow His name by agreeing with His verdict about Jesus that He is His Beloved Son. His voice from heaven expressed His love for His Son, at His baptism, Mar_1:11 “And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” and at His Transfiguration, Mar_9:7 “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
v). We hallow His name by allowing Him to fill us with His Spirit so that He can manifest His life in and through us, 2Cor 4:11 “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
vi). We hallow God’s name by reverencing (hallowing) Christ in our hearts as Lord, 1Pe 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.” (“revere” is from “hagaizo” meaning to sanctify or to “hallow” as in the Lord’s Prayer.)
Perhaps none of us will ever realise all that is involved in praying that short phrase, “Hallowed be Your name” in the Lord’s Prayer. What I have written above may be just a fragment of the total meaning. If I were to attempt to express all those meanings in a few short sentences in prayer, it may turn out something like this. “Heavenly Father I pray that in everything I say and do, I may bring glory to Your name. May Your name be honoured by every person on earth. Work in me and in them by the power of Your Holy Spirit that we may prove to be a holy people expressing Your life in us and Your love through us. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN”
QUESTIONS BASED ON THE ABOVE
1). God described Himself as “God Almighty”. Why do we find it difficult to think of Him as having all might?
2). Jesus is often described as “the Lord Jesus Christ”. In what ways should that truth motivate us to live godly lives today?
3). We are to “hallow” God’s name. What sorts of human behaviour do hallow His name and what sorts of behaviour do not?
Note 1. Other names for God include the following. “El” is used as a general name for God and for other so-called deities. “Elohim” the plural is used in a singular sense for God but is also used of false gods. Adonai (Lord, Master), El Elyon (The Most High God), El Olam (The Everlasting God), Elohim (God), Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You), Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner), Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd), Jehovah Rapha (The Lord Who Heals), Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts), Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There), Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace), Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness), Qanna (Jealous).
Note 2. “Theos” is used of false gods in in the singular in Acts 7:43 and 12:22 and as the plural “theoi” in Acts 7:40, 14:11, 19:26, 1 Cor 8:5, Gal 4:8.
Note 3. God as “Saviour” in found in Luk_1:47, 1Ti_1:1, 1Ti_2:3, 1Ti_4:10, Tit_1:3, Tit_2:10, Tit_3:4, Jud_1:25.
Blog No. 174. Jim Holbeck. Posted Thursday 18th February 2016