Matthew 6:9-15 Part 3

“Therefore you are to pray like this… our Father in the heavens, hallowed be Your Name….”

We’ve always said we’re not to take the numbers which we find in Scripture too far, because it’s so easy to speculate.  I have a number of books in my library on the subject of Biblical numerology!  And although some of the things said in them are probably true, for the most part the authors involve themselves in fanciful speculation.  And that’s really only good for the ego – not for the Kingdom.

But God is the God of order.  And He is the God of mathematics.  Two plus two is only four because God said it – and for no other reason.  There’s no law that says that!  And we can rest in certainty, because God is Who He is, that every time we do the two plus two calculation the answer will always be four!

And we can also rest in certainty that each time we do the calculation it is an attestation of the glory and perfections of God!

Because two plus two always equals four and never anything else, it proclaims the everlasting uniqueness and perfection of the Creator of this universe!  The Creation, in all of its parts, and even its mathematics, (especially its mathematics), screams and shouts the glory of God!  Truly our God is unique and separate from His creation.

Now, the primary reason I bring that up I’ll come back to in a minute or two.  But first let me just say as a subsidiary point, that the Lord’s Prayer can be seen in its numerical perfection.  And that that numerical perfection is self-revelatory of God.

Although numbers, as they are used in the expression of ideas, are not as clear as prepositional truth in words and phrases, there are some things to be recognized here in the numerical structure of the prayer!

Now, as we’ve already said, at the beginning of the prayer, as our Lord gives us a pattern for life, comes the acknowledgement of God and His glory!  That comes in three petitions.  Then comes the recognition of our needs, and that our God is the One Who provides the satisfaction of those needs!  That comes in four petitions.

Let’s look at those quickly so you’ll see what I mean.  At the beginning are the three petitions which acknowledge the sovereignty and perfections of God – “Hallowed be Your Name… Your Kingdom come… Your will be done….”  And we must recognize that three is the number that God uses many times to reveal His “threeness”; the fact that our God is One God – Three Persons – Perfect unity and absolute diversity.

And, in this prayer, His “threeness” is in distinction to His Creation.  For the needs of the creatures are expressed in four petitions.  Now, I don’t think it’s necessarily true that whenever the word or number “four” comes up in the text of Scripture that it is expressive of the distinction between the Creator and the creature; that’s the great tendency you see, to numerological speculation!  But here in the Lord’s Prayer that seems to be the case!

Four is often used to indicate creation in distinction to the perfection of God in His Oneness and Threeness!  And here we find that, directly after the three petitions for the glory of God, there are four petitions for the “needs satisfaction” of the creature!

And those four petitions are:  “give us our food, forgive our offenses, don’t bring us into temptation, and deliver us from evil.”

Now, as I said, I don’t think we are to arouse ourselves to an unworthy interest in this, but it is true that three and four make seven, and seven is a number that God has used on a number of occasions to reveal completion.  You yourself can go through the exercise of bringing to memory the “sevens” of Scripture --- the seventh day, the seventh trump, the seventh seal, forgiveness is seventy times seven – and the petitions of the Lord’s prayer are seven.

The three that are first having to do with the glory of God and His righteousness – which must be the foundational direction of the heart – and the last four which are the submissive requests for the concrete requirements of man.

And the three and the four make seven – reflecting the complete perfection of the pattern of prayer and the pattern of life.  Now, please don’t go any further with the numbers than that.  They aren’t allegorical, they aren’t metaphorical, and they don’t add to the prepositional truth like words and phrases do – the numbers add weight!  The beauty and perfection of the Lord’s Prayer are substantially augmented and complemented by the Lord’s use of the numbers.  And I don’t think we need go any further than that.

But the primary point this morning, as I promised earlier, is the uniqueness and distinction and separateness of God, and the acknowledgment of that – in our prayer and in the way we live.  “Hallowed be Your Name” is the first petition to come out of our mouths when we pray, and, since this prayer is also the pattern for life, it is also the primary emphasis for life!

“Hallowed be Your Name.”  Well, what does that mean?  And what does it have to do with the uniqueness and separateness of God?  Well, the word “hallowed” means holy – separate – and, since the form here is a petition, or a strong request, the sense of it is, “Your Name be kept separate and holy!” – our first petition!

Of course you remember that the third Commandment says “you shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain.”  And, further, those who take His Name in vain shall be guilty!

Now, as we’ve said a number of times before, God has named Himself different names in His Word.  And He does so to reveal Himself and His attributes in different ways.  His names, in other words, are revelatory of Himself.  It used to be that men named their children in some way that would reflect that activity of God.  But we don’t need to go into that right now.

But the word “name,” as it is used here in the Lord’s Prayer, and in the third Commandment, means a great deal more than just the pronunciation of the Name “God.”  Or “Yahveh.”  But the word “name” carries with it the description of the person.  “Name” means all that a person is.

So, as the third Commandment requires the holiness and separateness of God in the words and deeds of men, so the Lord’s Prayer does the same thing in its first petition.  “Hallowed be Your Name” means – Your Name and Person, and attributes, and Words, and deeds are to be kept separate and holy and distinct in the deeds and thoughts and speech of all men.

This is a petition that that be so.  This is a petition that any reference to God among men be kept holy and sacred – that His Name be sanctified and set apart from anything common and profane.  To “hallow” is to esteem, to honor, to prize, to reverence and adore – “hallowed be Your Name!”  This is a cry for the honor and glory and reputation of God among men!  It is an impassioned plea that God be spoken of with dignity and grandeur and nobility!  It is the understanding that the Name of God is the pre-eminent name in all the world, and that it ought to be used with reverence.  And that it must reflect the splendor of His person!  This is a plea that all the world might know Him and revere him, and glorify Him.  

You can’t read the four Gospels without seeing very clearly that that was the consuming passion of our Lord Jesus Himself.  It is found again and again in His Own words and deeds.  Here’s a perfect example in John chapter seventeen:  “I have glorified Thee on the earth.  I have manifested thy Name unto the men which Thou gavest Me.”

Jesus was always ultimately concerned with that!  He said, “I have not come to seek mine own glory but the glory of Him that sent Me.”  There is no real understanding of the earthly life of Christ except in these terms, is there?  He knew that glory which ever belongs to the Father, “the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”  He had seen that glory, and it was His!  And He had emptied Himself of it in order to become man – that man might see that glory of God!  His desire was that the glory and splendor of God be known among men!

And, as we live in Him and take on His nature, that must be our desire too.  The honor and reputation of God must be ever before our eyes – as we pray and as we live.  That’s why the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer is “hallowed be Your Name.”  This pattern for life says – first – promote the reputation of your Father!  Honor His Name.  Make Him known among men.  Pray that His Name might be sanctified among men.  Bring Him honor in the way you speak.

Now, there are many things, as you’ve probably already guessed, that we could say about the profane use of the name of God – our language, our profanity, our commonality, our innuendoes, our jokes, our expressions, our disobedience, our lifestyles, and our use of pagan methodologies in prayer and worship, and I certainly don’t want to disappoint you by not saying anything about those things.  Everyone knows that we need constant preaching against those things that bring dishonor to the Name of God.

But this morning I thought that I would relate these words of the Lord’s Prayer to something else which I thought might be vitally interesting and very informative to you – and also be a little bit of a history lesson for the young people.

There are events happening in the world right now and in the last ten years, which will be major sections of tomorrow’s history books.  And I have no doubt that the view, which is projected in some of those future books, will be a humanistic one rather than a reformed Christian view.  And I’m speaking of those awesome events, which have been happening in Eastern Europe, and in other places in the world, where changes in governments have been taking place.  Where people’s lives have been undergoing drastic changes – where freedoms have been replacing restrictions.

People don’t know, because it certainly isn’t going to be reported this way in our press, that much of what has been going on over there is religious, and not just, as some might say, “a purely social revolution”!  But a battle has been going on in the Communist world over the glory of God!  And this is the central issue in some of these countries!  And prayer for the hallowing of the Name of God is in the mouths of His people over there!

The apostle James said, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  And when men call upon the name of God and honor that name, He begins to honor that prayer.  And we have to realize that it is not the name of men that we must honor – but the Name of God.

In Romania, for example, where the name of God had been profaned for forty-five years by an atheist, communist dictator by the name of Ceausescu, it is for a certainty that the Lord God of heaven and earth honored His holy name through the prayer of Christian people in that country!  It has been reported that Christians, a month before the over throw of that godless government, had declared a month of prayer and fasting.  They firmly believe that the revolution resulted from God hearing the effectual and fervent prayer of righteous people!

And the instrument that God used to begin that revolution was a Reformed minister from neighboring Hungary, who refused to stop preaching the Gospel in Romania.  And who refused to stop denouncing other ministers of his own denomination who were collaborating with the atheistic government.  His name is Laszlo Tokes.  And he was preaching in the city of Timisoara, Romania.  And when the secret police tried to take him, in order to stop the preaching, Christian people surrounded his house twenty-four hours a day!  And the police opened fire on them and killed hundreds.  Larger crowds formed in the central city of Timosoara, and the police opened fire on them, killing thousands!

And the rallying cry for Christians was “God is.”  God, you remember, in all His splendor, said “I AM.”  JAWEY.  The Christians of Romania said “God is.”  They honored His Name.  And such courageous defenses of the faith spread to other places and cities across the nation, and, as they say, the rest is history.  The dictator was toppled and then executed.

We never hear these things from our press, because in their “free” reporting of the news as it is, they freely choose to ignore and suppress the real causes of world events when it looks as if they might be linked to the Christian religion!  Any other religion is okay.  And any other cause for the great events of the world to take place is even better.  But, not God – and certainly not the victorious Christ adding to His Kingdom!

So the source of these great things happening in Romania were not reported at all by the American media!  It was not inadvertent that they left out the fact that the slaughter of thousands, that everybody saw on TV and read in the paper, was begun by one man who refused to stop preaching the Gospel, and by thousands of Christians who would not let the government stop him!  The media would not report that the freedom of eighteen million Romanians was over the issue of Christian preaching!  And they certainly did not report that the cause behind it was God honoring the prayer and fasting of His people only a month earlier!  Where the Christian people of Romania are honoring the Name of God, the American press is profaning it.

And I suppose that one of the lessons learned by that is that you don’t have to say or do something overt in order to profane the Name of God.  All you have to do is ignore it!

But I don’t want to leave you this morning with the idea that everything in Romania is now Theocratic and Christian.  Nor in any of its Eastern European neighbors.  That would be a serious mistake.  For as soon as the new government in Romania took power, two of the first things it did were terminate the death penalty and legalize abortion!  In other words, the depraved nature of humanity, as soon as it won its religious freedom, stopped punishing its guilty and started killing its innocents.

So it isn’t a complete victory over there – the prayer and fasting and preaching must continue.  God is pleased to save some by the preaching of the Gospel, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!

In one city of Romania, after the toppling of the Communist government, twenty thousand people were on their knees, all at one time, reciting this Lord’s Prayer.  They were petitioning the Lord, all together, that His Name be hallowed – that He be honored above all.  Things like that aren’t happening in this country.  We’re more interested in profaning the Name of God than we are in honoring it.  We’re more interested in suppressing the Name of God than in petitioning for its honor among all men.

Very quickly, another country whose Christian people played a large part in the dictator’s overthrow, was Czechoslovakia.  And yet, its new president, Vaclav Havel, came to this country right afterward to speak to the congress of the United States, but he spent his evenings in a punk-rock club.  And it’s come out since then that he has his philosophical roots in the counter-culture of the sixties.  That’s profaning the Name of God. 

These are the things in recent history that are profane and disturbing.  And I am also very disturbed by the profaning of God’s Name by today’s ministers – many, many of them.  A good example of that is a minister whom I’ve often denounced – Robert Schuller, who recently, when preaching to 200 million people on Soviet television, said that the essence of religion is finding and giving people back their pride.  Since his sermons don’t make sense in English, you can imagine what they must sound like in Russian.  But that’s profaning the Name of God.  When men preach something less than the whole Word, that’s profaning His Name!  When men do something less than what is right it’s a profane deed!

But Jesus says, right here in our text, to put away your pride and your ego, and glorify and sanctify the name of God.  Put away your vain, empty, pagan babblings, and honor and esteem the Name of God.  Do it first – in your speech to God and in your life.  Do it first.  It must be your primary interest.  “Our Father in the heavens, hallowed be Your Name….”