Friday, January 20, 2012

Hallowed be Thy Name

bible_2.122205158_stdWhenever we loose the anchor of Holy Writ, we naturally drift into the dangerous waters of manmade "wisdom." In the worst of all cases, this leads to the shipwrecking of one's faith (1 Timothy 1:18-20). Because the believer lives in a veritable ocean of secularism, religiosity, and bad thinking, it is incumbent upon him to guard the sacred treasure of what God has revealed in His Word. This is no casual task, but instead requires a militant mindset. Ephraim and Judah were enjoined to "press on to know the Lord" if they were to experience the blessing of His personal presence:

Hosea 6:3: “So let us know, let us press on [niredphah] to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.”

The 1st person common plural Qal imperfect form of radaph (translated as let us press on) reveals a very serious and intense thought. By this principal verb, the Lord implores His people to know Him, not casually, but with an intense pursuit that can be likened to a soldier's hot pursuit in battle, or a hunter who earnestly seeks his prey.[1] Should we meditate on this concept at all, it should obliterate our insipid spirit concerning the knowledge of God through His Word.

I begin with this as a reminder of the words of Christ when he instructed the disciples on the matter of prayer:

Matthew 6:9: 9. “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name..."

As an introduction to the subject of prayer, the Lord reminds us about the reality of God's transcendence - a needful point in view of mankind's fallen nature and tendency.[2] By beginning with the thought of God's abode in Heaven, Christ reminds His disciples of the unmitigated sovereignty of His Heavenly father: "...our God is in the Heavens; He does whatever He pleases."[3] Then, having identified His Father in this way, He then continues to declare that His name is Hallowed or holy (hagiostheto). This concept is central to our pursuit of the knowledge of God. To say that God's name is hallowed means that we acknowledge that He (along with His identity) is utterly set apart and distinct from all of creation. God's revealed identity is no small matter. His name is that which communicates his unique and holy nature. Thus, if we are to be in a hot pursuit of the knowledge of God, we must be careful when considering the identity of His name.

Over the years, the holiness of God's name has been undermined by various means. More recently we have seen evidences of this through the assumption that Mormonism is just another expression of genuine Christianity. We have seen evidence of this in interviews like that of Chris Wallace & Joel Osteen:

WALLACE: And what about Mitt Romney? And I’ve got to ask you the question, because it is a question whether it should be or not in this campaign, is a Mormon a true Christian?

OSTEEN: Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior, and that's what I believe, so, you know, I'm not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are. And so, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a man of character and integrity to me, and I don't think he would — anything would stop me from voting for him if that's what I felt like.

WALLACE: So, for instance, when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, and the golden tablets in upstate New York, and God assumes the shape of a man, do you not get hung up in those theological issues?

OSTEEN: I probably don’t get hung up in them because I haven’t really studied them or thought about them. And you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don’t know. I certainly can’t say that I agree with everything that I’ve heard about it, but from what I’ve heard from Mitt, when he says that Christ is his savior, to me that’s a common bond.

With reasoning such as this, anyone who names the name of Christ is believed to be redeemed despite the fact that the Christ of Mormonism is a phantom. Should the reader doubt this, please read my article on this subject here. As well, several years ago there were similar problems raised through an ecumenical effort to conflate the identity of God the Father with Allah in An Open Letter and Call from Muslim Religious Leaders. My article on this issue is found here. And Rick Warren's conflation of the names Isa and Jesus revealed yet another lackadaisical effort to pursue the true knowledge of the Lord:

I commend all Arabic Christians who reject the invented name of Isa and instead utilize the name Yasu for the hallowed name of Jesus. This reveals a reverence and love for the name that is above every name. Which leads me to another consideration of the importance of hallowing God's name. It is often argued that Allah is merely the generic word for God in Islam. Actually, Ilah is the generic term, while Allah is considered to be the formal name of God. We see this in the repeated Quranic expression: "there is no ʾilāh [god] but al-Lāh [the God]." Because of this, Arabic Christians will often refer to the Lord as Rabb (Lord), or Al-Ab (The Father). Overall, I commend any and all efforts to distinguish and hallow the name of God from the apostasy of Islam. Historically, this has been a challenge for all clip_image001generations and cultures. The distinction between the generic word for God versus a formal name is found throughout linguistic history. For example, Ba'al-zebub is refereed to, generically, as a god (elohey/elohiym). For that matter, the generic terms elohey/elohiym are used for numerous false deities as well as for Jehovah. However, it is never the case that the name Ba'al-zebub is used to identify Jehovah. In the N.T., there are countless deities who are named, and all are considered to be a god (theos), but there is no such deity that is simply called, by name, theos, or 'o theos. Nor is God the Father ever referred to as Zeus, Artemis, or by any other particular name found within the endless list of false deities. Point: there is a grand difference between utilizing a generic word for deity versus a specific name, and therefore, it is important to remember that Jehovah is neither Ba’al-zebub nor Islam’s Allah.

Because of this, I commend Arabic Christians who endeavor to distinguish the name of God over and above the particular name of Allah as identified in the Quran. To the extent that they endeavor to do this, they are showing a diligent desire to hallow God's unique name. However, many Muslims are trying to persuade Christians that the true identity of God is found in the Quran. This unfortunate effort is evident, in part, in the recent Christian/Muslim accord entitled, An Open Letter and Call from Muslim Religious Leaders:

"Muslims recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, not in the same way Christians do (but Christians themselves anyway have never all agreed with each other on Jesus Christ’s  nature), but in the following way: '…. the Messiah Jesus son of Mary is a Messenger of God and His Word which he cast unto Mary and a Spirit from Him....' (Al-Nisa’, 4:171). We clip_image002therefore invite Christians to consider Muslims not against and thus with them, in accordance with Jesus Christ’s words here."

This statement from An Open Letter is quite deceptive, especially since the full text of this verse is very important:

Al-Nisa 4:171. O "People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His apostles. Say not 'Trinity': desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs."

clip_image002[7]The writers of An Open Letter have generated no small amount of deceit. Their omissions are troubling, calling into question whether they are aware of the Quran’s teachings, or worse, it calls into question their sincerity overall. In order to believe in the Jesus of the Quran, one must deny His deity, and therefore the Trinity itself.  To do this would require apostasy from one of the most central truths in Christendom that has been upheld for over 2000 years.  Those who deny these truths are not Christians by definition. Additionally, the Quran's teaching concerning the crucifixion reveals its hostility to the true nature and work of Christ.

Surah 4:157. "That they said (the Jews), 'We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of Allah'—but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not—"

To be blunt about the matter, the Jesus of the Quran is no more than a Gnostic myth.

As we seek to hallow the precious name of God, let us press on to know Him. This is no casual pursuit, but should be seen as all-out war. There are many forces, heresies, and false religions surrounding us which are trying to denigrate the fair name of our Father who art in Heaven. But dear Christian - we must resist this. For the Muslim his deity is, by name, Allah and bears no relation to God the Father, or Ilah Al-Ab.

If you are a Muslim, reading this post, please know that Ilah Al-Ab can only be known through His only begotten Son - Jesus/Yasu.

My prayer is that you, by grace, would know Him truly - “So let us know, let us press on [niredphah] to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.” Hosea 6:3:


[1] "...Usually the term refers to a man or group pursuing another for purpose of making war..." Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (1999, c1980). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (834). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Psalm 50:21: 21. “These things you have done and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.

[3] Psalm 115:3