Monday, March 26, 2007

The Holy Name of the Lord

The Bible shows us that God is in an "other" category. He is unique, with no predecessor or follower or rival (Isaiah 43:10). His thoughts are infinitely above ours. Thus, we should not be surprised that His priorities differ radically from ours as well.

We see an example of this as we reflect upon the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) .We find that immediately after calling upon God as Father, the first request concerns the Name of God: "hallowed be your name" (Matthew 6:9 ESV). This is a solid reminder that in light of our day-to-day needs, many of which are real and some are imagined, the asking of God for those needs is not His first priority. The reverencing of the name of God, rather than our need, is understood as primary. Like His glory, God's Name, in Christ, is above all other names (Philippians 2:9). Like His glory, God must logically promote the honoring of His Name above all other things since nothing is greater.

An interesting term for prayer can be found early on in the text of the Bible. In Genesis 4:26, we find prayer being described in relational terms as the time when "men began to call upon the name of the LORD." In the Proverbs, God's Name is likened to a strong tower to which we may flee for refuge (Proverbs 18:10). In the Psalms, there are around 110 references in which all but a handful refer to the Name of the Lord. This brief section from Psalm 86 demonstrates this so clearly:

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.

Understanding the Lord's priority in having His Name reverenced and regarded as holy may give us a new perspective on how our culture mistreats the Name of the Lord God. Unfortunately, there is much in our culture which violates God's known will. Numerous examples from the media can be presented which we know are offensive to God. Consider that we live in an age in which images which would have been considered pornographic a generation ago are now used in everyday commercials and advertising. Without diminishing that measure of a moral slide downward, I do wonder if the common misuse of God's Name and that of Christ, in swearing or even simple exclamations, offend God more than the raciest images found in television, movies and magazines of today. Even in television programs that could be considered family viewing, how many times does the even mindless uttering of "Oh my God" cross the lips of so many.

As you read through this entry, reflect on what it means to call upon the Name of the Lord and to honor His Name as holy. It may be a topic to which we've given little thought. To the Lord God, it is a vastly and infinitely important priority. It must be ours as well.

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