What’s in a name? – session three

In less than five minutes of reading, I want to show you that losing yourself in God’s reputation is something Jesus has made profoundly possible, and that the fame of God’s name is something He himself is pursuing, which is to our benefit (you will ‘find yourself’ in His hallowed name). In prayer we can participate in this supreme grace of God that his name be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven.

One of God’s chief gracious purposes achieved in salvation is the hallowing of his name. It is an extreme kindness to us that he would do this.

After naming God as “Our Father in heaven,” the first actual petition of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-5) after this address is that he would “hallow his name.” It may seem odd that we would request God to achieve something for himself, making his own name great, but this is what children want for their Father, it is what saved people desire for their Saviour. As saved children – those who have lost their own reputation for and in his – we will want nothing less than this, so of course we ask!

Jose Aljovin on unsplash

But isn’t God already perfectly holy? So, why do we ask him to hallow (make holy / special) his name?  My own thought is that the later phrase “on earth as it is in heaven” actually brackets all of the first three requests (name, kingdom, will). We request God to keep making his name special because on earth it is sullied, it is not honoured and esteemed like it is perfectly in heaven.

The original revelation of God’s name

So by gifting us this model of prayer, Jesus is continuing his new exodus program which he came to achieve, just as we saw last time in microPrime session two. The hallowing of God’s name is a significant outcome of the original Exodus, when God commissioned Moses in the wilderness to be his agent of deliverance, the revelation of his name in the non-burning bush incident is significant. 

“God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, the LORD, the God of our fathers … has sent me to you. This is my name forever, the name you shall call me.”  (Exodus 3:15) Salvation will mean knowing The Name!

God’s name was also revealed not only in the salvation of the Exodus for the saved, but in the judgement of the Exodus as well (for salvation only comes through judgement). “Pharaoh said to Moses ‘Who is the LORD that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not recognise the LORD and will not let Israel go.’” (Exodus 5:2)

Robert Thiemann on unsplash

So began the battle of the gods – Israel’s vs. Egypt’s – the contest for the greater name.  But Pharaoh was on a defeated path from the outset of course, no match. God later told him “I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16).

And so it was … then and for several generations after, God was known and respected by all the earth (though not necessarily esteemed and worshipped). And Israel was to keep proclaiming that same and only name in their national life throughout history. The LORD wasn’t just Israel’s God after all – he is actually the God of everyone!

The name of God profraned

However, Israel profaned God’s name amongst the nations, mostly by their sin and rebellion against him they threw mud on his name. Subsequently by God’s own exile of them, it meant other nations started calling into question God’s name: his power and love and holiness.  So God was going to make it famous again for his own sake! Here is how the prophet Ezekiel had put it six centuries before Jesus, writing from exile in Babylon where God’s people had been deported.

I (God) will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.“ (Ezekiel 36:23)

God making his name holy again will mean salvation for his people.

the BIGGER exodus hallows god’s name

In Jesus that moment of promised name-hallowing arrived! Jesus is actually a cosmic ‘God-event’ of extraordinary lengths. In his life, his teachings, but especially in his atoning (judging & saving) work:

(Jesus said)  27 “Now my soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.”

Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

2The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

30 Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for me, but for you. 31 Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate what kind of death he was about to die.  (John 12:27-33)

In an incredible way, Jesus achieved a new and better exodus to glorify The Name, one which has drawn and continues to draw people from all nations.

Can you see why Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer, the premier request of which is to ask God to keep making his name holy? It is at the heart of God’s gracious salvation purposes that we would know and glorify The Name, and that others would also come to address him likewise. In other words, it is simply the best thing for us – how grace!

What’s in a name? When it’s the name of God, everything – grace, salvation! Thank you Jesus for glorifying The Name!

RESOURCES

John Pipers book Let the Nations Be Glad explains Christian mission in terms of the revelation of God’s name. It is a hard but good read that I recommend. Here is a sample of the sort of thing he unfolds over many pages.

“He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.”  (John Piper)

Credo Mission Moments:  Can I also recommend the Credo training community (all of you Prime people) to join, participate and contribute to the Credo Mission Moments group. That would be excellent!