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Hallowed Be God's Name

The first line in Jesus' model prayer is famously known. Maybe you've never considered the meaning and significance of this memorable prayer. What’s so special about God’s name, anyway? In this episode, we’ll learn how “honoring God’s name” is more than just a religious formality. God’s reputation is from the foundation of the world, it was prophesied long time ago by the prophets, and it’s upheld today by believers all over the world.

Jesus told His disciples that a good prayer should say, “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” What does that mean? On our last podcast, we talked about the time that Jesus taught His followers how to pray. Today, we’ll talk about the famous, but often underappreciated first line of Jesus’ model prayer from the book of Luke. Why should we pray about God’s name? It’s not just part of some religious formality, or mark of respect, but it has some deeper significance. It means, “Father, may your reputation be honored.” And it indicates what should be one of the chief desires of our hearts.


Hello everybody. This is the Relentlessly Knocking podcast. I’m Scott Ihle, and I’m the Executive Director of Logos Answers, and the missionary in residence at Woodstock church of Christ in Atlanta, GA. Jesus told His disciples that if they knock, the door would be opened for them. And on this podcast we are knocking relentlessly and unapologetically as we try to discover the truth about God the Creator, the Anointed Son of God, Jesus, and their Spirit-inspired Word as found in the Bible.


Name = Reputation

A person’s name is their reputation. If you were to go into a library, and you see shelves and shelves of books, but all you see on the spine is the name of the book. You would expect that the name of that book accurately represented the contents that were inside. If the book was titled, “Dictionary,” you would expect that book to be filled with a list of words and their definitions. It’s the same way with people. When we hear someone’s name, we’re not just identifying them, but we’re usually making some sort of association in our minds about their reputation — what are they like, what do they do, how do they make us feel.


The idea is frequently the same in the Bible when it talks about the name of God. The name of God is His reputation and His authority. Whenever people use the name of God, they should have in their minds an accurate picture of who God is and what He’s really like. More specifically, God should be honored.


When Jesus’ followers asked Him how to pray. This is what He said, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, may your name be honored’” (Luke 11:2, NET).


God’s name is special. His personal name in Hebrew is Yahweh, which most likely means, “I am.” So, even His personal name highlights one of His most distinguishable characteristics, His self-existence. No one created God. He has just always been. But more than that, His name is special because of who He is and what He represents. He is the Maker of heaven and earth and everything in them. His nature is to be gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithfulness.


In Jesus’ model prayer, He is expressing the idea that God should have a reputation worthy of His character. He should have a reputation that is special and a name that is above all other names.


God’s name often gets dragged through the mud

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. God’s name can get dragged through the mud. People may misuse God’s name in their speech. Others may even openly mock God. The most common issue is probably that most people just disregard God’s name altogether by choosing to live their life however they want. They don’t fear God’s name.


However, there is an even more troubling way in which God’s name can be dishonored. God’s name is dishonored when people wear His name, yet they don’t live in a way that reflects His character in their lives. They may say they follow God, but they don’t respect Him enough to follow His teachings. They may call themselves Christians, but they don’t act like Christ.


One of the Ten Commandments God gave to the nation of Israel is, “You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7, LSB). This commandment may include the idea of not speaking God’s name in an empty or blasphemous way. However, the main idea may very well be, “do not bear,” or “do not carry” the name of Yahweh in vain. In other words, God doesn’t want people to associate with Him and His name, unless they intend on being holy like Him, and plan on reflecting Him in their lives.


Just because someone identifies as a follower of God, doesn’t mean they actually are honoring His name. God’s name is holy and distinguished. Those who carry His name must have the same goal in mind for themselves. They should strive to be holy and distinguished from everyone else. They should reflect God through their lives. They need to take care not to drag God’s name through the mud.


God promises to turn the world around

Could this be the main idea Jesus had in mind when he said, “Father, may your name be honored?” It’s possible. Though there may be another idea Jesus had in mind, as well.


The prophets who came before Jesus looked forward to a time in which God’s people would no longer dishonor His name. For hundreds of years, the nation of Israel identified themselves as followers of God, but they continually rejected Him by following after other gods. So, God delivered them over to be ruled by the other nations of the earth until a time in which He would open up His kingdom to the entire world, through His Anointed Son. When that happened, God would be vindicated. His name would be honored.


God says this through the prophet Ezekiel, “And My holy name I will make known in the midst of My people Israel; and I will not let My holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations will know that I am Yahweh, the Holy One in Israel” (Ezekiel 39:7, LSB).


When God came to earth in the flesh as Jesus, it was time for God’s name to become special again. He was going to turn the world around. And Jesus was going to be the One to usher in this new age on the earth. Many people from many different nations would come to honor God’s name, except now, through the name of Jesus.


There are still many people in the world today who do not honor the name of God. Does that mean that the promises of the old prophets and the prayers of Jesus’ followers failed? No, because a day is still coming when God’s name WILL be honored by every tongue, every people, and every nation.


The apostle Paul wrote this to the church in Philippi, “As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9–11).


When Jesus said, “Father, may your name be honored,” He meant for all people everywhere to recognize the name of God and His work in the world. Honoring God’s name means the world is honoring His reputation, His character, and His authority. That should be one of the chief concerns for us, as followers of Jesus. We should desire that we honor God with our lives, and we should desire that the rest of the world do the same along with us.


Do you have any questions about this lesson or any other topic in the Bible? Feel free to comment or reach out to let us know. Our next few episodes will continue to look at each component of the Lord’s prayer. Next time, we’ll discuss what it means to pray, “May your kingdom come.” Hope to see you there.


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