by Andy Goodnow
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Your name….”
When we pray, we call upon, we bless, and we ask in, His Hallowed Name. Our requests, pleas, and praises find their center at His name. If His name is at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of our prayers, and if it is His name that we put our trust in, then it is important for us to understand what the passage means when Jesus states “Hallowed be Your Name”.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
So, what does it mean that God’s name is “Hallowed”? Why Hallowed? Over all other words that could have been spoken in it’s place, hallowed is what Jesus says. To understand the depth of His statement, we must first understand what “Hallowed” itself means. To hold someone as “Hallowed” is to greatly revere and respect them. To begin to understand how we hallow God’s name, we must first understand how to revere and respect “ Our Father who art in heaven”.
Let’s take a journey back in time (over 3500 years to be more precise) to a mountain covered in a dense cloud, to a man sanctified, cleansed and humbled standing in reverence and respect before his Creator. On this mount we’re given two stone tablets with the foundation of God’s holy law engraved upon them. When we look upon these tablets etched by the mighty chisel of the Creator, we find the instructions on how to honor Him. Within these commandments, we find the third commandment to be of great use in helping us to better understand the importance of the name of God.
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”
We have heard this commandment preached from the pulpits of our homes and churches to children and congregations alike. We may even balk and cringe at the sound of His name proceeding a curse of any kind. But are we seeing the true meaning of this commandment? As we look to the Word we see the true instruction take on a little different form taught by the prophets, disciples, and even God Himself, then from parents and pastors. We have interpreted vain to simply mean that we are not to use his name in a profane way, but are we grasping the depth of the message that the Lord Himself is trying to teach us? To shed light on the meaning of this thought we need to venture deeper into His Word and plunge further into the pages of His Holy letter to us. We see a warning when we look in the Word to Romans, where Paul gives further insight into this commandment when he writes: “You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,’ just as it is written” (Romans 2:23-24)
Now how does this passage give more detail of the third commandment? Let’s look at the definition of “blasphemy”. When we look up the definition of “blaspheme” we find to blaspheme is to “speak irreverently about God or sacred things” It’s synonyms are to “swear, curse, to take the Lord’s name in vain”. Now knowing this, we see that Paul is making a connection between the Law of God and the name of God. But what is the connection? To get to that answer, let’s see what else God’s Word has to say.
There is no greater thing than the name of God, right? Once again a look at the Word of God reveals what His stance on the subject is: “I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name, For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name” (Psalm 138:2). His Word, His Law, His commands, His instruction, magnified above His name….We find a similar correlation in the prophet Ezekiel. In Ezekiel the word of the Lord came to the prophet with a word for Israel and this is what the Lord said: “Therefore, son of man, speak to the house of Israel and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed Me, in that they have committed a trespass against Me” (Ezekiel 20:7). So what was the trespass of Israel who blasphemed God to the point that He withdrew His hand of protection and provision from them (Ezekiel 20:22)? What form of rebellion did they commit that drew Him to divide the nation and scatter them between the lands (Ezekiel 20:23)? Because they had not obeyed my laws but had rejected my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths, and their eyes lusted after their father’s idols” (Ezekiel 20:24). After reading this passage it is clear that blasphemy (aka. taking the Lord’s name in vain) is much more than what we say. It is in what we do (or fail to do). With this knowledge the commandment becomes an even greater warning, “the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7b).
So, why is it that in church pulpits today people worship, praise, pray, and preach the name of God but teach a completely opposite message of the Word (the Law and commands of God)? Church leaders teach that the laws and commands of God were done away with when Jesus came to this earth. If this is the case then are we to teach that the “name” of God is done away with in Jesus as well? Clearly this isn’t the case, but it is what is implied if we make the statement that the Law is done away with, especially with the knowledge of what God Himself says about His Law and name. As believers we desire to truly praise the Name of God, and from the previous text we understand that this is accomplished by loving His word (law, commands, and instructions). In fact, by honoring and obeying His word we hallow it.
1 John 5:2-3
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
When we truly “Hallow” The Name of God we humble ourselves and give our lives, hearts, minds, and beings to the pursuit of revering and respecting His Holy Word! When we understand this, we can read the following passages with such enlightenment and joy. (try switching the word “name” for the word “word (law, commands, instructions) and see if they bring a new insight to the power of His “Hallowed Name”
Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
Micah 4:5 All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.
Psalm 61:8 Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.
Psalm 135:13 Your name, LORD, endures forever, your renown, LORD, through all generations.
Psalm 72:17 May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. Then all nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed.