Steven Shek—Edinburgh, UK
The Lord’s Prayer is a passage many Christians know by heart. Perhaps we recite it daily, and teach our children and newly baptized members to do the same. We study it as the model prayer, and often share its teachings in sermons and seminars. Certainly, each line of the Lord’s Prayer is noteworthy for our learning and reflection. However, the second line, “Hallowed be Your name,” is often rushed over and overlooked in our sharings. Yet, to hallow God’s name is one of the first things we must do as God’s people.
Hallowing God’s name is not only something each of us should personally practice, but also something we should encourage our fellow brothers and sisters to uphold. When we see someone failing to hallow God’s name, do we exhort him to return to God? Reflecting on how to truly hallow God’s name in our lives not only helps us to improve our personal relationship with God, but also allows us to take better care of His sheep and keep them within the fold.
How can we ensure we are hallowing the name of God?
HALLOW GOD IN OUR HEARTS
The definition of “hallow” is to “honor as holy.” Peter, in his letters, encouraged the believers to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” (1 Pet 3:15). The phrase “in your hearts” means that when we hallow God, something should happen within us. In order to hallow God, we must first let Him be our fear and our dread (Isa 8:13).
Naturally, what happens within our hearts has an outward effect. The most obvious expression of this inner fear is through our praise and worship. However, it is not enough to keep singing a hymn such as How Great Thou Art to laud God’s name ever-harmoniously, then to disregard Him the minute we leave church. This kind of singing would just be flattery (Ps 78:36). God does not need our admiration; but the very fact of His nature demands that we honor and fear Him in how we act.
Before Moses began his life of servitude, God told him to take off his sandals because the ground on which he was standing was holy. From this instruction, Moses was moved from within to follow what was revealed to him by God. In true belief and full awareness, Moses further responded by hiding his face because he was afraid to look upon God (Ex 3:5–6). If we truly hallow God in our hearts, we would hallow Him in our actions.
Someone with a strong and genuine faith will fear God in his heart and life, not just in his worship. To hallow God is not just to respect Him or be amazed at His creation and salvation. It requires a deeper understanding of God’s goodness and, equally, His severity (Rom 11:22).
HALLOW GOD ON A DEEPER LEVEL
Within broader Christianity, Christ is generally portrayed as the Lamb of God, the Good Shepherd and a loving Father (Jn 1:29, 36; 10:7, 11, 14; Jer 31:3; Rom 8:39). However, let us consider honoring God on a deeper level. In Revelation, it describes how the Lamb is “slain” (Rev 5:6, 12) and records “the marriage of the Lamb” (Rev 19:7). If we study the Book of Revelation, we will realize that it describes a day when the wrath of the Lamb will be poured out (Rev 6:16, 14:10). We must absolutely keep this truth about Christ and His judgment at the forefront of our minds. This will naturally direct us to treat Him correctly, with fear and respect, in each step of our life and in whatever we do (Prov 3.5–6). So rather than just focusing on the comforting goodness of God, we should also consider His severity (Rom 11:22).
We believe that Christ is the Holy One of Israel (Lk 1:35; Acts 2:27, 13:35). If we worship God in spirit and truth (Jn 4:23–24), we need to take heed of how the Holy One dealt with those who tested and tempted Him time and again (Deut 33:8; Ps 78:41, 1 Cor 10:1–11). Our God is not a pushover; people who hold an incomplete view of God may think and do whatever they like in private, believing that they are safely hidden. But this is self-deception.
Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD,
And their works are in the dark;
They say, “Who sees us?” and, “Who knows us?” (Isa 29:15)
God sees and knows all things. Hence, we should continually reflect on our relationship with Him—whether we honor and fear Him on a deeper level of understanding, and with our whole being.
HALLOW GOD IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
Be Trained in Righteousness
To escape God’s wrath, we need to accept correction based on God’s righteousness. To expose self-deception in ourselves, we need to be honest and allow the Holy Spirit to pinpoint areas where we are not aligned with God’s righteousness. This process will bring about a fulfillment of the prophecy for the descendants of Abraham: when God’s people hallow His name, those “who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine” (Isa 29:22–24).
Then, those who have been trained in God’s righteousness will progress towards pursuing His righteousness, as Paul did. Rather than asking themselves, “Am I doing anything wrong against God?” they will ask, “What else must I do to become more righteous in God’s eyes?” (Phil 3:9–14).
Be Ready to Embrace Righteousness
If we are actively pursuing God’s righteousness, we need to embrace and accept the righteous judgment of God, who is holy.
“But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment,
And God who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness.” (Isa 5:16)
The Bible describes two ways in which God will be “hallowed in righteousness”—both of which relate to His judgment.
First, it records how on the day of judgment, those who are condemned will agree with God’s judgment and hallow Him. Everyone, even unbelievers and disobedient Christians, will fear God, the all-consuming fire (Heb 12:28–29; Rev 6:16–17, 2 Thess 1:7–9; Rom 3:4, 19).
Second, God will use His word to judge those in His church, who will turn from unrighteousness to righteousness to show they truly hallow God. How shall this come to pass? Let us refer to the words of the prophet Isaiah:
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the LORD's house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
And rebuke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isa 2:2–4)
If we truly hallow God, we will learn to love His judgment, because it teaches us to turn to righteousness. In this way, through love and fear of Him, we will be refined and ready to meet Him on the day of judgment:
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Rev 19:7–8)
HALLOW GOD BY SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE
As we can see, our perfection in righteousness occurs not just on an individual level, but through the church as a whole. The whole church must come to hallow God’s name, through and through.
So, as watchmen, we need to call our brethren to repentance when they are heading the wrong way. We cannot let God down by being too gentle with their feelings that we neglect to remind each other of our duty as faithful servants of God. When we see unrighteousness, are we willing to speak the truth in love, however harsh it may seem (Eph 4:15)? It is important we do so; if we do not, we are letting our brethren fall into a false sense of salvation (Jer 6:14; Ezek 13:10). And if we allow them to backslide past the point of no return and insult the Spirit of grace, how can we, ourselves, escape (Heb 10:29)? We need to exhort everyone to honor the name of the Lord Jesus. It is by His holy name that we have all been saved (Acts 4:10, 12). Since we are indeed the true church in the end time, let us move courageously towards the likeness of the restored apostolic church:
I will restore your judges as at the first,
And your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city. (Isa 1:26)