Series Title: "Pray Then, Like This ..."
In a real sense, it could be said that the whole point of God’s revelation specifying conduct for Israel was given as a way for his holiness to be brought from heaven into this world. That is an otherworldly way to look at his commandments and our compliance. It is sad that as Christians, we have been taught to think of being saved and sanctified as a way to get out of this world and into heaven.
He has revealed himself to us as holy, 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 and act. Do we love one another, truly? Are we characterized by charity: being gracious, considerate, and kind to everyone we meet? Are we upright and honest in all of our dealings with others?
When we acknowledge that God is our Father, our immediate concern, as his covenant partners, should be our responsibility to protect his reputation. As his sons and daughters, we are to go out into our world of relationships and show that the God of Israel—Jesus' God—is in every way holy, holy, holy.
Listen to the prophet Isaiah. But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. - 43:1-3
A fair question would be, why God, did you redeem us? You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD (Is 43:10).
The first thing you must understand with respect to holiness is that the holy God is a God who saves. That is a matter of knowledge. The second thing is that is, once you have come into this knowledge, you have a commission to be his witnesses. I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses, declares the LORD, that I am God (43:12).
Our Father, in heaven, may your Name be honored as holy. How do we honor, how do we sanctify God’s name? Here are some thoughts. We honor God as holy when we:
study his Word in order to obey it/him.
seek first to understand another, in order to better love.
feed the hungry, clothe the poor, visit those in prison, and care for widows and orphans.
teach children that God is good and the source of all morality.
treat our wives, husbands, and family with dignity and respect.
My list just scratches the surface. I am sure you all have much to add to it.
When we pray hallowed be your name we commit ourselves to a higher conduct, to walk in a different way made possible only by his Spirit. The way of the cross is a way in which what matters most to you is not your legal rights, but your spiritual responsibility to bring honor to your God. We bring his holiness into this world by the way we conduct ourselves in it.
In Jewish culture, to speak of sanctifying the name of God (kiddush HaShem) can be a synonym for being killed for him. Martyr, a word that came from Greek into English, means witness.
Remember I said that the opposite of sanctifying is profaning? The prophet Malachi records that God took the preachers of his day to task. A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name (Mal 1:6). They respond by saying, How have we despised your name? The answer is poignant and penetrating. You can read it for yourself.
I want you to notice what he says to those who hallow, sanctify, honor his name.
But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. - Malachi 4:2-3
My friends, you will never fully appreciate or properly understand Jesus’ intense dislike, hatred, and rebuke of hypocrisy among those who had set themselves apart. The reason Jesus was so caustic and critical in his comments, not upon their teachings but upon their conduct, is the same if he were standing here today delivering the message. Honoring God as holy in your life is the only way your neighbor can have a witness of who he really is.
Hypocrisy profanes his name.
Our ministry delights to show the Jewishness of Jesus in his Jewish world. Understand that what grieved him about the religious life of so many around him was this kind of false piety that would utterly profane the name of God under the pretense of sanctifying his name.
Make no mistake about it, he is still deeply grieved—even enraged—by those of us who come to church and worship pretentiously.
It is a sobering thought to know that we can confess with our lips, even dance and praise while we preach and weep, only to walk out unrepentant and unchanged. We go forth and dishonor him by our disobedience, by our lack of reverence for his name, by our myriad acts of selfishness, immaturity, egotism, and greed; going forward only to pursue wealth, power, and stature.
We dare to characterize and judge the Pharisees while we boldly and blindly act out our own hypocrisies. If we would but listen, he would sound just as caustic to you and me. Why? Because he knows the importance of declaring, You alone are holy, O God.
The prayer Jesus gives his disciples is in the middle of what has come to be known as the sermon on the mount. In light of our discussion, let me leave you with our King's words, from his historic teaching, to ponder in your heart of hearts. The first speaks to our great inadequacy, and the second to our great opportunity.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (5:3).
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (5:14-16).
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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.