Summary: According to the Prophet Malachi, to honor God’s name requires recognizing his Lordship over our worship, our words, our marriages, and our money.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
(Honoring God’s Name--Part 2)
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
We are in the midst of a study of the Lord’s Prayer and the principles that we can learn about our praying from the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Tonight we are looking again at the very first petition of the prayer—“Hallowed be thy name.” It is significant that the very first thing we are told to pray about is God’s name. At the top of our prayer list stands a concern for the name and glory of God.
I proposed in the beginning of our study that the Old Testament Malachi provides a good commentary on the meaning of this petition. At the end of the Old Testament, Malachi took the people of God to task for not “hallowing God’s Name.” In fact, this concern for God’s name is a central theme that runs throughout the book. Consider all the places where this concept surfaces in the book:
(Mal 1:6 NIV) "A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the LORD Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. "But you ask, ’How have we shown contempt for your name?’ . . . (Mal 1:11 NIV) My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty. . . . (Mal 1:14 NIV) "Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king," says the LORD Almighty, "and my name is to be feared among the nations. . . . (Mal 2:2 NIV) If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name," says the LORD Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me. . . . (Mal 2:5 NIV) "My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. . . . (Mal 3:16 NIV) Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. . . . (Mal 4:2 NIV) But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.
In each chapter of Malachi, the prophet challenges the people of God, especially the priests, for failing to show proper regard for God’s name. They failed to hallow his name in four different ways. Those four areas instructive for our lives as well. The more concerned we are about the issues connected with these matters, the more we are ready to truly pray, “Hallowed Be Thy Name.”
The first area was worship. The prophet warned the priests of the dangers of their practice of approaching worship as it were a matter of convenience and seeking the easiest way out. They had turned the worship of a holy God into something that was trivial. Our manner of worship may have changed from the Old Testament sacrifices, but this challenge remains the same. Worship is not primarily about us, what we want, what we like, or what we can get out of it. Worship is about honoring God’s name. It is about asking what does God want out of this?
Honor God’s Name is also affected by our words. Malachi challenges the priests (2:7-9) to use their tongues to bring honor to God’s Name and not cause others to disrespect the God they claim to represent. The same tongue with which we pray “Hallowed be thy name” dare not speak in such a way that God’s Name is dishonored. The Third Commandment warns of this same danger.
Malachi links God’s Name to two other areas of life. Both can be hot button issues for the modern church. For that reason alone, we need to listen closely to what Malachi taught 2400 years ago. To pray, truly pray, “Hallowed be thy name” requires taking a close look at our marriages and our giving.
In the last half of chapter 2, the prophet moves from preaching to meddling. It is one thing to speak in generalities about worship and honest talk, but many moderns are likely to react the same way the Israelites did to the prophets when the messages starts getting too close to home. “My marriage and my pocketbook is none of your business,” we are likely to be told. To which, Malachi would likely say, “But I thought we were praying about ‘Hallowing God’s Name.” You can’t do that and tell God “off limits” to these two critical areas of life.