“Hallowed Be Thy Name”
We often hear this sentiment expressed at the beginning of prayers. As we seek to center our thoughts upon the person of God in prayer, focusing upon the holiness of God’s name is tremendously helpful. This sentiment reminds us that we are not speaking to just anyone in some common conversation. It is, rather, an address to the Creator of the entire Universe as One who stands apart from it and is morally independent from it. It is also a reminder that this Creator has a Name, is a Person, and hears the cry of His people (Psalm 18:6).
Do we understand the importance of the Name of God? Moses first asked God his name in Exodus 3:13-15:
And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, YHWH, God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
This is no ordinary name. In God’s setting forth the name YHWH (I AM THAT I AM), He distinguishes himself as the foundation for all life and existence. This is no tribal name conjured up from looking at some idol. This is no national name based upon some earthly king’s family dynasty. This is not an attempt at self flattery; who would believe that Moses was God? This is the name of the God of the Universe Who supports and upholds it through His power – the Existing One, the Great I AM.
It would have taken Moses some time to explain this to the children of Israel who had known him as “El Shaddai” (God Almighty) prior to Moses’ revelation. God explains in Exodus 6:3: “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name YHWH was I not known to them.” The name God revealed to Moses signified a new relationship of God with His people that is reflected in the Mosaic Law. God works not only by power, but by authority; He is a God who governs based upon law, not by the capricious exercise of force.
At the giving of the Ten Commandments, God emphasized the importance of honoring His name when he wrote: “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). To take God’s name in vain is to count it as something worthless. In contrast, God’s people seek to sanctify God’s name, to set it apart as worthy of reverence – “Hallowed be Thy Name!”
God’s name is the name above all names because His existence stands behind all existing things, His authority stands behind all other authorities, and His holiness stands behind all other holiness. He is the foundation for all things; His very purpose is to provide such a foundation; He exists as His own Reason; He has the explanation for Himself within Himself. All things return to Him as their Source. No other can claim to so be. His existence is absolutely unique and thereby absolutely holy.
“Hallowed be Thy Name.”