Today’s post is by guest writer Keith Ward
The title tends to be a phrase we rush through between the glory and fear we express at the thought that we can call God our father and explanations why it is or is not proper to say, “Thy Kingdom come” (1Pet 1:17). Who is even sure what “hallowed” means any way?
Bible dictionaries say, “To causatively make, pronounce or observe as clean,” or, “To set aside for divine service.” We are more familiar with the thought, “to make holy,” but have no better understanding of what we must do in a practical way to accomplish this. One gains a better understanding by reading through all those dull rules in Exodus and Leviticus:
The Tabernacle was made holy because God was there and all who touched the altar were hallowed by that act.
If Israel was to be called God’s people, they had to show proper respect for His holiness by keeping themselves clean. The lists of rules that one must obey to be clean, and the meticulous rituals for purification of uncleanness emphasize the separateness of God and how special it is to be called his people – special and fearful.
One who violated the hallowed nature of the Sabbath in a minor way was stoned (Num 15:32) and one who was unclean in the most minor way could not partake of the Passover even if his uncleanness happened by accident (Num 6:6-8; 9:6).
As generations passed, Israel became less awed to be God’s possession and less careful to hallow God by their actions. Finally came the day that God had enough and left the temple; neither it nor the people would any longer be hallowed by his presence among them (Ezek 8-10). In the course of His departure, God ordered a slaughter similar to that for the sin of Baal-Peor (Num 25:1-9; Ezek 9:1-6). As He instructed the angels to spare those with His mark from the divine slaughter, we learn what God considers the true hallowing of his name: “Set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry over all the abominations that are done.” It clearly was not sufficient to refrain from most of the sins; it was not even enough to avoid them all. One had to be in abject mourning that those things were being done at all. Then, and only then was the name of God hallowed.
So, now, how do we feel about saying, “Hallowed be thy name?” Do we measure up any better than those Israelites did? Going to service of the church and sincerely clearing our minds of all worldly thoughts and cares to truly worship is not enough to hallow God. Refraining from the various evils in our society is not enough. Saying these 4 words—Hallowed be thy name—demands that we mourn that sin is being committed at all, anywhere, by anyone, for all are in the presence of God.
How can we claim we mourn the sins when we laugh at them on our favorite sitcoms? Is it an expression of our sorrow at the lusts of the world to peruse the swimsuit issue or watch the lingerie TV specials? Can we claim to be hallowed by having touched the presence of God on Sunday if we appear at the beach scantily clad during the week? Will praying a lot and studying a lot make up for all the ways we show that we wish we could participate in these things, if only….? Where will the “man with the writer’s inkhorn” find anyone to mark among us?