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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:Hallowed Be Your Name
Text:LD 47 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Prayer
 
Added:2022-02-28
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Revelation 4

Lesson: Lord’s Day 47

 

HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME

  1. The Place of Hallowing

  2. The Purpose of Hallowing

 

  1. Psalm 33: 1, 2, 4

  2. Hymn 5:1-2

  3. Hymn 5:3-4

  4. Hymn 4:1-3 (After Nicene Creed)

  5. Psalm 54:3

  6. Hymn 10

 

Words to Listen For: degree, kitchen, unassailable, concrete, moonbeams

 

Questions for Understanding:

  1. What’s confusing and potentially blasphemous (if you get it wrong) about the first petition?

  2. How is prayer like the Lord’s Supper?

  3. What is most important about the Heavenly throne room?

  4. How does this first petition fit with all the others?

  5. What are the two ways we are shown God’s glory? (Hint: they both start with “c” )

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

I once saw a comic of a young boy kneeling at his bed and beginning to pray the Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father who art in Heaven

Halloween Thy name

The boy’s parents look on in the background, smiling to each other at the little boy’s mistake.

 

Now, granted, this is a rather humorous mistake, and it is important for young boys and girls to spend time in prayer, even if they don’t know exactly WHAT they are praying…because they do have some idea of WHO they are praying to, and some idea of what it means to pray.

Parents will explain who God is, at a very basic level, and parents will encourage their children to talk to Him, to thank Him for the good things in their life, and ask Him for help with the bad.  This is all a beautiful part of raising up covenant children.  But what is beautiful in a 3 year old, what is humorous for a 4 year old is something different altogether when it comes out of the mouth of a 15 year old, or a 20 year old.

And that is why I am so thankful that our catechism addresses what it does.  I am so thankful that our catechism goes through the various sections, on our problem - sin.  On our solution - our Saviour.  On the fundamentals of our faith - the Apostles’ Creed, on the basic responsibilities of the church - preaching, the sacraments, church discipline.  On our walk of thankfulness in the Law, and on our talk of thankfulness in prayer.

It is important that we know the words to use, even if they are a little old-fashioned sometimes, and that we do not confused “hallowed be” with “Halloween.”  It is important that even when we have the words right, that we truly know what they mean, and that, when our lips form the words “hallowed be” our hearts are not so utterly confused that we might as well have said “Halloween.”

And it is important that we have this understanding of the first petition

HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME

  1. The Place of Hallowing

  2. The Purpose of Hallowing

 

The Place of Hallowing

Now, there is something that is confusing about the first petition, right on its face.  It’s not only about the old-fashioned nature of the word, it’s not only about how it can be confused with Halloween…but there is confusion as to what we are actually praying for here.

If you look up the word “Hallowed” in a dictionary, you will find the definition: to make holy, to consecrate.

Hallowed means holy.

So what exactly are we praying here in the first petition?  Are we praying that God’s name would transform from something profane into something holy?

No!  This is blasphemy of the highest degree!  There is nothing holier than God’s name!  To suggest that God’s name - representative of His authority, His character, His person, His perfections, is anything less than holy is blasphemous.

This is why the third commandment is so serious - 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.

This was a sin that was to be punished with DEATH under the old covenant, so the Lord’s prayer, the prayer that our Lord Jesus commanded us to pray, cannot be breaking the third commandment.

Or, if we think that it means that we are praying for God’s name to INCREASE in holiness, we run up against the same problem.

God’s name is as holy as it ever could be, our God is HOLY HOLY HOLY, the angels proclaim it - one to another in the heavenly throne room, and, as we heard in our reading, the four living creatures never cease to say “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” 

So…what are we actually praying here?

Well, to answer this, we have to look at a more basic question first - who is prayer FOR?

Well, prayer, beloved, prayer is primarily for us.  It is ABOUT God, but it is FOR us.  Let me explain.

Prayer is ABOUT God

  • He is the one we address in prayer - Our Father in Heaven

  • He is the one we glorify - Hallowed be your name

  • He is the one whose kingdom we want to bring about - Your Kingdom come

And the list goes on.  Prayer is clearly about God.

But it is FOR us...because we don’t pray to tell God what is going on...He already knows.  He knows everything.  We don’t pray to inform God...but exactly the opposite.  We pray to teach ourselves.  To inform ourselves of our NEED and our humble position before the throne, as well as our PRIVILEGE and our bold position before the throne.  When we pray, this petition, and all the rest…it is FOR US.

When we pray Hallowed be Your Name, we are not praying that God’s name be CHANGED into something holy, we are not praying that God LEARNS that His name IS holy, but we are praying to teach OURSELVES that His name is Holy.

We are praying to remind ourselves that though we may approach God as our Father, HE IS IN HEAVEN, AND HE IS HOLY!  Though we may enter the throne room as dearly beloved children, we may never casually saunter in.  Because when we pray, where are we going?

Of course, physically, we are in the same spot.  It’s just like the Lord’s Supper.  There is a wonderful line in our form that gets glossed over in our minds. 

We must not cling with our hearts to the outward symbols of bread and wine, but lift our hearts on high in heaven, where Christ, our advocate is, at the right hand of His heavenly Father.

This is the location where our hearts are joined to Christ in the Holy Supper, and this is where our hearts are joined to Christ in prayer.

Christ does not come down off His heavenly throne when we bend our knees, and we do not drag out Saviour down when we celebrate, but instead, mysteriously, mystically, we are taken up to Him.  

John Calvin put it like this: In the Lord’s Supper, Christ is present, not by descending to us, but rather, by Him raising us up to Himself.

Lest this be too difficult for us to understand, Calvin adds these words:  I will not be ashamed to confess that it is too high a mystery either for my mind to comprehend or my words to express; and to speak more plainly, I rather feel than understand it.

And the same is true for us in prayer.  Where are we when we pray?  Physically in our bedroom or around the kitchen table or in the pew…but spiritually, spiritually we have ascended into the heavenly throne room of God.  And our reading explains to us what that throne room is.  I’m going to read from 4:2 to the end, for us to have that picture in our mind:

At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.  And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.  From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,  and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.  And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,

    who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

    to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

    and by your will they existed and were created.”

THIS is the throne room that we enter when we bend our knees in prayer.  In that split second when you bend your knees, close your eyes, and fold your hands…you are there.

And, in my excitement to describe this to you, in what I thought was a moment of inspiration, I gathered up all my 21 commentaries on Revelation and was determined to read each and every one of them to figure out what they had to say about this heavenly throne room.

Just what does it mean that there is a rainbow with the appearance of an emerald?  Who are the 24 elders - maybe 12 tribes and 12 apostles?  And what is the function of the crystal sea?

I sat there, my books surrounding me, planning to spend the morning focusing on this, and midway through looking at the second commentary, I realized my mistake.

I took my sheet of notes and wrote on it “ALL OF THIS IS SECONDARY”  All of this is secondary to the throne itself!

While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the rainbow emerald doesn’t matter, while I wouldn’t say that the identity of the 24 elders is useless…they all pale in comparison to the throne itself!

The THRONE is where we go, and we should not be disappointed that when we close our eyes, we don’t see the sea of crystal…because we have what is better.  We have what is best.

We appear before the throne, and everything else fades away.  And when we come face to face with our God, the God who is worthy to receive all glory, all honour, all power…then we have no other choice but to proclaim “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty!”

Holy are you!

Hallowed IS your name!

God’s name is holy holy holy.  This is an unassailable fact.  He is holy holy holy in His heavenly throne-room…but is He holy in our hearts?  Our second point.

What is the purpose of this petition?  We already saw the place - prayer brings us into the heavenly throne room where we encounter heaven being led in worship, recognizing and praising the holiness of our God…but that is PRAYER ITSELF.  What about THIS PETITION specifically?

Well, here our catechism is very helpful.

Grant us first of all,

That we may rightly know you,

And sanctify, glorify, and praise you

This petition is asking God to instruct us.

Please God, let your name be seen as holy IN MY LIFE.

Open my eyes to your holiness and your glory.

And this is key.  Open my eyes.

Revelation 4:1 is the key to the picture in heaven -  After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”  

When we pray “Hallowed be your name” we are asking for the Holy Spirit to do for us what the angel did for John.

A door standing open in heaven - come up here, I will show you!

Hallowed be your name.

Show us your glory O God, as you showed your servant John!

Show us your glory, O God, and when you do, give us eyes to see it.

Because, so often, we do not have eyes to see.  We do not see because we do not wish to see.  Our desire for God’s glory is so often, far below our desire for comfort.  So far below our desire for prosperity, for victory.  And this spills over into our other petitions as well.

When we pray the fifth petition - forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors - do we pray this to relieve the guilt in our heart?  Do we pray this so that we don’t have to be afraid of an eternity in hell?

Or, do we pray, as we should pray, THAT petition in the light of THIS petition?

Our primary concern when we sin is that we have offended God’s holy name.  As Paul says in Romans 2 - You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.  For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Our primary concern when we sin should not be ourselves, but the honour and glory and holiness of God’s name.  When we sin, Satan and his demons rejoice over our slip up, and they laugh at God - THESE are your “holy people” ?  When we sin, the world laughs at us “not so holy now, are you?  You think you’re better than me, but we’re all the same.  Believing in God doesn’t do anything for you!”

We should flee from sin for the sake of our own soul, but even more so, for the sake of the holiness of God!

And when our eyes are fixed on God’s holiness, our temptation to sin will be significantly reduced.  For the light of God will show us the reality of our sins as useless and destructive, as wicked and vile, with nothing desirable about them at all.

And where does this light come from?

Well, there are two primary sources - Creation, and the Cross.

And the perfections of our God, mentioned here in Lord’s Day 47 divide perfectly up between the two: All your works, in which shine forth your almighty power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy, and truth.

In Creation, we see God’s Almighty power, His wisdom, and His goodness, and in the Cross of Christ, our redemption.  Here we see God’s righteousness, mercy, and truth.

In Creation we see God’s power - Romans 1:20 - For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

Think of the power of a tornado, a flood, a volcano, earthquake, or tsunami!  There is great destructive power in this world.  But there is also great creative power!

Think of the power shown when trees suck water from the ground through their roots and up 30, 40, 50 feet in the air to support themselves?  Or the flowers that push through cracks in the concrete, or the earth that hurdles through space creating seasons, and rotates on its axis, creating day and night?  Each and every one of these things shouts out our God’s amazing power.  Because none of them could possibly match the power of the One who made them.  The One who set this in motion.

In Creation, we see God’s wisdom - Psalm 104 - O Lord, how manifold are your works!  In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

All of these different creatures, living in harmony.  From the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.  There is a food chain, there is an equilibrium, with various habitats for various creatures, salt water creatures and fresh water creatures, deer, bears, lions, racoons - the earth is full of God’s creatures, and in wisdom He made and preserves them all.

And in Creation, we see God’s goodness - Psalm 36 - How abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!

After a heat wave, there are thunderstorms and rain to cool the land.  The spring always replaces the winter.  God shows His goodness to His people through His creation.

But even more obviously, He shows who He is through His salvation.  Through the cross.

God shows His righteousness through the cross - Romans 3 - all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness

God’s righteousness means that sin must be punished.  And it was.  Definitively through the cross, once for all.

And God shows His mercy through the cross - Titus 3 - when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Both justice and mercy were present in the cross of Christ.  Justice that sins were paid for, and mercy that it wasn’t us who had to pay the price.

And finally, God shows His Truth through the cross - Romans 15 - For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.

The cross showed the truth of God, because it solved the great problem of the Old Testament - how do justice and mercy work together?  It also solved the great mystery of the New Testament - how can the Gentiles be brought in?

When you look at the world around you, pray that your eyes may be opened to God exploding on the scene through the sunrise.  Pray that your eyes may be opened to God showing His faithfulness and beauty through a rainbow, or at night, when He shows His care by spilling moonbeams over your face, and causes a cool breeze to comfort you.

When you look back at that great act of Redemption, the cross of Christ, pray that your eyes might be opened to the perfections of God.  His righteousness, His mercy, and His truth.

And when your eyes are truly opened, there is no other option but to cry out “Holy holy holy, Lord God Almighty, all thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea!”

For this is the meaning of our prayer - hallowed be your name.  We must know, not only what the word itself means, but we must know just who God is and what He has done for us.  It is then that we may properly pray, and properly live, magnifying the glory and holiness of God’s name in all we do.

AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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