Author: Dwight A. Pryor (of blessed memory) - from the third lecture in the audio seminar Praying Biblically
To Jesus and to the Jewish people there was no greater privilege, no higher responsibility in their lives than to in every way demonstrate in their conduct the holiness of the God of Israel. He is holy, but it is our responsibility to show that to the nations. In heaven he is holy, but on earth we are the guardians of the reputation of his name. I have a son, every one of you is a son/daughter of your father; you respect, protect, guard the reputation of your family name by the way you conduct yourselves. If my son conducts himself properly, it makes me proud as a papa - and that is exactly what God says of Israel. In Isaiah 49 he says: ‘I will be proud of you, because you carry my glory.’ So, God in heaven is holy, but our responsibility is to show to the world that he is holy, here on earth. That is our responsibility, our primary duty, and our extraordinary privilege, because we are covenant partners. You and I are covenant partners with God, how we conduct ourselves reflects on the partnership and ultimately reflects on the principle partner of the partnership, namely the God of Israel, the holy God. That is why in Lev. 22:32 one of the 613 commandments God gave to Israel is: ‘do not profane my holy name (do not treat my name as common, ordinary or unholy), for I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord who sanctifies you…’ In other words, ‘because I brought you out of Egypt, because I am your God, you must not dishonor my name, you must not profane it – rather, you must sanctify it.’ When we say ‘hallowed be Thy name,’ what we are saying is, ‘may your name be sanctified, O God.’ How do we sanctify God’s name? The key is given in vs. 31 –- ‘keep my commandments and follow them: I am the Lord - do not profane my name, for in the midst of Israel I must be shown to be holy.’ The way you hallow God’s name is to do more than to confess with your lips that he is holy. It is to show in your obedient conduct, in your righteous deeds, that he is holy; and when you pray, that is what you are praying – that that may be done, that his will may be done. We sanctify God’s name by observing his commandments. What gives God the right to ask us to do this? The answer is in vs. 33 – he delivered us from our bondage, from our sin, from our Egypts. He redeemed us, and therefore he has the right to rule us; and he rules us in such a way that as his partners (as his children, his family) we go about this world showing God to have a good reputation, and thus sanctifying his holy name. I cannot over emphasize this point to you of how incredibly important this issue was to Jesus and to the Jewish people. It is something that we as Christians don’t think much about – only in an incidental way, because to us our relationship to God primarily bears upon our life in the world to come. But to Jesus and his Jewish world, one’s salvation of God, one’s experience of God’s grace, presence and power, primarily bore upon one’s life here and now—not in the future, not in the world to come, but right here and right now. He saves you in order for you to be his ambassadors to this world, because he wants to come in to this world. And so in a real sense, it could be said that the whole point of God’s revelation of this Torah specifying conduct for Israel is in order for God’s holiness to be brought from heaven into this world. And yet as Christians we have always thought in terms as being saved and made holy in order to get out of this world and go into heaven. I am trying to tell you that Jesus’ point of view was quite different. The highest priority is not getting out of this world and getting into heaven, the highest priority is to bring the holiness of heaven into this world. That is your mission, that is your commission, that’s your purpose. When your purpose has been accomplished and your task has come to an end, then you come into your reward in heaven. But your salvation bears upon the earth, and God wants to be King over all the earth. Zechariah foresees the day in which God’s glory covers the earth in which he is King over all the earth, in which the Lord is one and his name is one. But in the meantime we are the first fruits of that great eschatological revelation, we are living in the future because we are the redeemed of the Lord. He has shown himself as holy to us, and therefore our mission is to show this world around us that he is holy by the way we live, by the way we speak, by the way we love one another, are considerate and kind to one another, the way we are honest in our business dealings, the way we handle our finances.
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.