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Matthew 6:7-15 Part 2

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Introduction

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

10  Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11  Give us this day our daily bread,

12  and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13  And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Last week we looked at the first few verses of this text. I pointed out that these texts assume that we as Christians pray, that prayer is not an option for a Christian. In fact, a Christian who does not pray is essentially an oxymoron, it’s a contradiction. We also saw that God is not concerned with the quantity of our words but the quality of our words. That we don’t have to approach him in order to inform and convince him of our needs but instead we are to approach him as our Father who already knows our needs. That we’re privileged to call God our Father, a father who cares for us.
And finally, we concluded that prayer is not me-centric, that prayer is to be conducted in such a way that our thoughts and our affections are not only concerned with myself, but that prayer ought to be carried out and influenced by our context as believers belonging to the church, belonging to one another.

The Lord’s Prayer is God-centric

And it’s here at the end of verse 9 that we pickup that same train of thought, we read,

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

The Lord’s prayer is profoundly God-centric, “hallowed be your name.”
What we learn from this text is that the chief object and priority of all prayer is God himself. That his name would be kept holy (or held in reverence), that his kingdom would come, that his will would be done. One of the hallmarks of a Christian is an insatiable desire to see God’s name glorified, to see his name lifted up, for his name to be hallowed, for all people to fear him. Why? Because they should, because he’s the Holy One, he’s the Sovereign Lord, he’s the Lord of lords and the King of kings. There’s no one like him and he is the only true God.
The meaning of the word hallow
We don’t use the word hallow any longer in our modern English language, except probably here in the Lord’s prayer, but the word hallow shares the same root as the word holy, and the word hallow is a verb that simply means to actively regard something or someone as holy, so when we read, “hallowed be your name” in verse 9 Jesus simply means to communicate that God’s name ought to be actively regarded as holy, that his name must be handled with deep reverence and fear because God is holy. It’s the activity of honoring God as holy.
The balance between fear and confidence
So on one hand God is holy and he’s to be feared, yet on the other hand his children have the privilege of calling him Father. In one sense we’re told, “with confidence, [to] draw near to the throne of grace,” yet even so, we’re never to approach God with a caviler or presumptuous attitude. And as Christians this is the balance we must always endeavor to maintain.
3rd Commandment
It’s also helpful to see that this first portion of the Lord’s Prayer, “hallowed be your name” is, in many ways, a paraphrase of the 3rd commandment that’s recorded for us in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. We read in ,

7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Now what we read here in Exodus is what we call a negative form of the 3rd commandment, in other words the evil of taking the Lord’s name in vain is forbidden, while in the Lord’s Prayer we find that the 3rd commandment is in the affirmative, in other words the contrary good, which is to hallow God’s name, is commanded. And the reason I point this out is that often when we’re seeking to understand a word or a concept it can be very helpful to compare that word or concept to it’s contrary counterpart. For instance, if I’m seeking to describe and define love I might find it helpful to point out that the opposite of love is hatred. So here in verse 9 we’re told to hallow God’s name, while in Exodus we’re told not to take the Lord’s name in vain. So if you want to hallow God’s name don’t take his name in vain. This contrast can be helpful for us to better understand what it means for God’s name to be hallowed.
Do not take the Lord’s name in vain
Now you might ask me, “What does it mean for us to take the Lord’s name in vain?” Well, it literally means to not use or treat the Lord’s name as worthless. And it’s more than just not using his name in conjunction with a 4 letter expletive, or swear word. While the 3rd commandment certainly includes not using his name as a swear word, there’s more to it than that. You see, God’s name is representative of who he is, it’s representative of his character, it carries with it his reputation.
This isn’t much different than how we understand the connection between a person and their name today. I’m reminded of how many of us can be offended if our name is spelled or pronounced incorrectly. I can recall several times at the workplace where someone has noticeably taken great offense to the misspelling of their name, especially if the same person repeatedly misspells their name despite the many opportunities they’ve had to spell it correctly. And for this reason, when I’m drafting my own emails I regularly reference the signatures of other’s emails before clicking send to ensure that I’ve spelled their name properly.
And why does this bother us? It bothers us because when someone misspells our name we feel like the other person isn’t showing even a basic level of respect toward us, they won’t even take the time to get our name right. But there’s even more than this behind what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain.
I regularly reference the signatures of other’s emails before I address them in a new email to ensure that I’ve spelled their name correctly. And why does this bother us? It bothers us because when someone misspells our name we feel like the other person doesn’t have any respect for us to even take the time to get our name right.
And there’s more.
Dragging God’s name through the mud
I think we’re all familiar with the concept of dragging someone’s name through the mud, and we’re all acquainted with what slander is. These actions are more than just misspelling someone’s name, they’re acts of publicly saying false or evil things about someone in order to bring harm to their reputation, or in order to defame them. And within the context of Scripture this behavior is often times defined as blasphemy, so to insult or to slander God is considered a blasphemous act.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
In fact, you might recall, in when the Pharisees get word that Jesus has healed a demon oppressed man, their response is, “It’s only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” The Pharisees were unwilling to confess that Jesus was the Messiah, even when others had come to them after witnessing the healing of a blind and mute, demon-oppressed man saying, “Can this be the Son of David?”. The signs and wonders performed at the hands of Jesus were simply unmistakable and irrefutable, so the Pharisees' only option was to attack the character of Christ. Therefore they tell the people that Jesus has healed this blind and mute, demon-oppressed man by the power of Satan. Talk about a wicked thing to say.
And it’s precisely why Jesus responded by saying,

if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out?

if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Jesus takes blasphemy seriously, and the Pharisees had attributed evil to the work of the Holy Spirit. They had knowingly called what was good, evil. They had profaned God’s name.
Jesus takes blasphemy seriously, and the Pharisees had attributed evil to the work of the Holy Spirit. They sought to destroy the reputation of Jesus by lying to the people about him. They had knowingly called what was good, evil. They had trampled Jesus, and by extension the Holy Spirit, underfoot by their blasphemy, and in the most extreme sense they had done the complete opposite of hallowing God’s name. You can’t hallow God’s name by trampling his Son and the Holy Spirit underfoot.
Profaning God’s name
Now, another concept that helps define for us what it looks like to take the Lord’s name in vain is the concept of profaning God’s name. It means to treat the name of the Lord with irreverence or disrespect specifically by actions of disobedience. It’s why the word profane is used so often throughout the OT typically in relation to Israel’s disobedience. And it’s why for us that it’s so important to understand that in order to hallow God’s name our lives must reflect obedience to his reign and his rule. If we call ourselves Christians and yet we willfully disobey our Lord we profane his name, in doing so we treat his name as if it’s worthless.
Now this is an extreme example of what blasphemy looks like, but blasphemy manifests itself
Disobedience profanes God’s name
And not only does disobedience profane, or dishonor the name of our Lord privately, it also profanes his name publicly. You see this time and time again in the OT with Israel, where God is angered not only at their disobedience but that their disobedience causes the nations around them to profane the name of the Lord. Listen to the prophet Ezekiel as he recalls Israel’s history or rebellion,

The LORD’s Concern for His Holy Name

16 The word of the LORD came to me: 17 “Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds. Their ways before me were like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual impurity. 18 So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it. 19 I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries. In accordance with their ways and their deeds I judged them. 20 But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ 21 But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.

I Will Put My Spirit Within You

22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

The Israelites, for instance, were told not to profane the Sabbath in ,

14 You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

So because Israel profanes the name of the Lord by their disobedience God vindicates his holy name by pouring out his wrath upon them and scattering them among the nations in judgement. These pagan nations are permitted and directed by God to conquer the nation of Israel so that God’s judgement might be carried out.
says,
In , for instance, the Israelites are commanded to not profane the name of their God by offering child sacrifices to the pagan god Molech. It says,

21 You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

says,

The LORD’s Concern for His Holy Name

16 The word of the LORD came to me: 17 “Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds. Their ways before me were like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual impurity. 18 So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it. 19 I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries. In accordance with their ways and their deeds I judged them. 20 But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ 21 But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.

and the Israelites throughout the OT were notorious for behaviors that profaned God’s name. Their repeated disobedience to God’s law is described as profaning God’s name. Their disobedience was an affront to God’s sovereign rule, his righteousness reign and his reputation among the surrounding nations.
Our disobedience causes unbelievers to profane God’s name
We’re reminded of Israel’s exodus out Egypt
Furthermore, after the Israelites are cast out of their land God’s name is profaned yet again, this time among the nations because they conclude that the God of the Israel must not be able to protect his people within their own lands. Therefore, for the sake of God’s name, the Lord gathers the house of Israel from among the nations and brings them back into their own land. God has mercy on his people for his name’s sake.
How we must pray
So when we pray, “our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” our desire ought to be for God’s name to be honored among all people. And we hallow his name by our reverence, by our careful speech, and by our obedience. And I suspect it’s why the very next verse (verse 10) says this,

10  Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

The priorities of our prayers ought to be the hallowing of God’s name and the establishing of his kingdom, and the establishing of his kingdom here on earth is the establishing of his rule and reign just as it’s carried out in heaven. And as God’s people we make manifest that present rule and reigning of God’s kingdom via our obedience to his will.
In the age to come God’s kingdom will be fully and finally established on earth, but in this age we only taste the first fruits of that consummated kingdom. Right now it’s God’s people making manifest God’s invisible kingdom here on earth. We are ambassadors of God here in this present age, and we are his official representatives, bearing his name as we make our way through this world, which is not our home.

24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.

Conclusion

Right now it’s God’s people making manifest God’s invisible kingdom here on earth. We are ambassadors of God here in this present age, and we are official representatives of God, bearing his name as we make our pilgrimage through this world. This world is not
Right now it’s God’s people making manifest God’s invisible kingdom here on earth. We are ambassadors of God here in this present age, and we are official representatives of God, bearing his name as we make our pilgrimage through this world. This world is not
So may our prayers in this age seek the glory of God’s name and our obedience to his will here on earth as it is in heaven.

Prayer

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