2010-01-24 (am) Revelation 4&5 Hallowed Be Your Name
The Heidelberg Catechism gives us a good explanation for the first request of the Lord’s prayer: Hallowed by your name.
This afternoon, we’re going to walk through this request, as taught by Revelation 4.
When we pray, “Hallowed be your name,” we’re asking God to help us really know him. How do we know God? There are two ways: general and special revelation. General revelation includes seeing God’s handiwork in all of creation. Just as an anthropologist can see human creativity in the brushstroke of a cave painting, we also can see God’s creativity in the brushstroke of DNA.
The second way, special revelation, is the Bible. This is the revealed word of God. It tells us who God is. It includes commands from God which were given for our benefit. It tells us that God has a plan for us, for his universe. It tells us how God is in absolute power. It tells us that God is completely just. It demonstrates to us God’s incredible grace and mercy. Above all, it describes God’s amazing love!
In the book of Revelation, we have recorded God’s special revelation to a man named John. John saw things that were so amazing he could hardly put them down on paper! One day we too will see, and we will understand. Nevertheless, what John wrote is understandable, and it tells us all about God. It tells us why he deserves our blessing, our worship, our praise.
John looks and sees an open door. God doesn’t hide anything. For those who seek, he reveals that he sought them first, he opens the door and invites them in. John responds to the invitation and in the Spirit, goes through the door.
The first thing he sees is the throne in heaven and the one sitting on it. God is worthy of praise, God is hallowed because he is on the throne.
Have you ever been to England? Have you seen Buckingham palace? Have you seen the queen sitting on the throne? There’s power there. There’s a sense of awe. But all that is nothing compared to what John saw and felt.
God’s throne represents all power and authority in the universe. God is the just judge. God will bring justice. God will satisfy the broken hearted.
But the presence of a rainbow around the throne is a reminder. God’s justice isn’t relentless. There is a limit. God himself holds back. The rainbow reminds us of Noah. God judged the world, but saved believing Noah and his family. God made a way for them to escape judgement. God has made a way for all who believe to escape judgement, through his Son, Jesus.
God isn’t a power-hungry tyrant. He isn’t a paranoid dictator who does everything he can to hold onto his power. We know this because, surrounding the throne is 24 thrones occupied by twenty-four elders.
God delegates his authority. He doesn’t keep it all to himself. He trusts others with power and responsibility. When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, he gave them dominion over it. He empowered them to exercise their authority over all creation. He created them to rule.
Think of it! God gives people tremendous authority! He raises up leaders and nations. He uses people to bring justice and judgement, mercy and love! He responds to needs by empowering people to respond!
But here is a powerful thought. He gives us children. He gives us the responsibility to raise them. He delegates his authority to each and every parent! What an awesome responsibility! What amazing trust! How can we not praise God for this?
Before the throne was a sea of glass. The Israelites feared the sea. They did not desire to travel on it. For them, the sea represented the worst forms of evil. Leviathan lived there. Creatures large enough to swallow a man whole swam through the mighty waves.
But the sea before the throne is calm, restive and safe.
Doesn’t this call to mind another sea? A lake like Slave lake, where a storm can come up in seconds, and even experienced fishermen can be caught off guard, and their boats capsized.
A storm came out of nowhere one night, and the men in the boat held on for their lives. When all of a sudden, they saw an apparition. They saw someone walking on the water! Who could walk past them while they struggled in vain?
Then Peter recognised his Lord. “If it is you, tell me to come to you on the water! And so Peter, dangerously rocking the boat, literally and figuratively, jumped overboard and began walking to his Lord. But the storm rose up around him and for a moment, he took his eyes off his Lord. He started to sink, he cried out for help.
Jesus reached out and pulled him up and held him. With a word, he calmed the storm. He and Peter got into the boat and finished their journey. God is hallowed because he calms the storms of life. He promises peace in the midst of sorrow, anguish and trial. He brings perfect peace. One day, all the storms of life will be stilled. God will make it so. In the meantime, Jesus comes to us, walking on the waves of the storm. Even if we start to sink, Jesus pulls us up, he has the strength to hold us!
Before the throne are 4 living creatures. God is the source of every created thing. God chose to create! God chose to create you. David says, “You created me in my mother’s womb. You are on this earth because God chose to make you! God knew exactly what you would look like. God knew what you would do. God created you for his glory. You reflect God’s glory by bearing his image. Every human being bears God’s image.
These aren’t just creatures, we aren’t just creatures; we are living creatures. God is pro-life, and so are we! We value life. We value people. We value the unborn, so we work hard to promote life! We support agencies like the West Yellowhead Pregnancy Care Centre. We support activities that promote life. Because life honours God.
These four creatures exist to praise God. They are always hard at work praising him. They never cease saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”
This is the very definition of God. He is Holy: set apart, completely other. There is nothing, nothing at all like him. He is the Lord God Almighty. Nothing rules like God. Nothing is like God; nothing comes close to God’s power. God is eternal.
Have a conversation with an atheist. He will question God’s existence by saying, “If it was God who created the universe and everything we see, who then created God?” It seems like a good question, doesn’t it? But do you see the obvious failure? God by definition is eternal. God by definition is not created. God always was, always is and always will be. It is preposterous to ask, “Who created God.” If God were created by someone or something else, then God wouldn’t be God.
But he is God. He is the eternal, everlasting, the only one worthy of all praise and honour. He is the one who by definition, ought to be hallowed—for there is none like him!
The elders bow down and worship God. They say, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things and by you they were created and have their being.”
Doesn’t this give us a great picture of God? Doesn’t this inspire worship? We could go on and on! We could sit here and study God forever, and we shall! That is what heaven will be like! Eternity spent getting to know the eternal one, the one who reveals himself, the one who knows us and makes himself known to us! We will learn more and more about God. Honestly, what is revealed is all we need to know for salvation, for eternity with God, but it really barely scrapes the surface.
This book is like learning what a beach is like by studying a single grain of sand. It is marvellous in its facets, but there are so many innumerable things that we can learn from God through creation and through his book. Do you read it? Do you make a point of reading it whenever you can? Do you not learn new things about God all the time? Doesn’t it make you hungry to know him more? Doesn’t it set inside you a desire for heaven that seems at times to make you feel like you’re going to burst if you don’t get there soon?
Ah, that’s the Word of God! That’s the power and might and love and justice and mercy of the one to whom we say, “Hallowed be your name.”
And now here is the thing that is really amazing, humbling and sweet. God directs all our living; what we think, say and do so that his name is always praised and honoured because of us.
As to God’s eternal decree, there is nothing we can do that can diminish God’s praise. But because God gives us freedom, we are able to do things that do not honour God.
People watch believers for this reason. Whenever there are comments made about the church, people bring up the things that Christians ought not to do. Do you want to know how you should live as a Christian? Ask a non-Christian.
It is amazing, but people, who claim to have no interest in God, will be quick to judge Christians. In the case of Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion he is quick to judge God based on a sense of morality that he derives from God in the first place.
Let’s think this trough for a second. Without God, without any kind of being outside of creation, there is no source of morality. There is no sense of right from wrong. An atheist cannot argue for a definition of right from wrong from nature. By their definition, there is no moral value. Everything happens by chance or blind fate, so the fact that you stubbed your toe in the dark is no different from the person killed by a drunk driver. It is just too bad—a result of random events.
And yet atheists will be quick to judge the church based on the actions of a few. The whole Roman Catholic Church is full of pedophiles. All Christians are deluded. All Christians are anti-science, anti-technology and anti-reality because they believe in something outside of the material world.
But God is the only rational explanation for knowledge of right from wrong! Intelligent design is the only rational explanation for the complexity of the world. Mathematically speaking, it is absolutely impossible that solar systems, let alone life, let alone self-awareness, could result from chance collisions and mutations and natural selection.
What atheists and other critics of religion and the church remind us of is the same thing Christ reminds us of in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
People notice what we do. So let us live as exemplary lives as we can, as we are already doing! God the Holy Spirit is in us, enabling us to do this, so let’s continue to do it! Let us also become good students of people. Let us learn, as we learn about God, let us learn and understand the people around us. Let us learn why they think the way they do. Let us learn how and where they have gone wrong in their understanding of the world. Let us shine the light of Christ onto them! So that they may see God! So that they may hallow his name, in full knowledge of what they are doing!
To that end, there are many resources available to us. I encourage you again to look at the Stand to Reason website. I encourage you to read books like this one: Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions. It will help you understand others, and give you great tools to engage people in conversations.
All power and authority belongs to Christ. He has empowered us by his Holy Spirit to exercise his power and authority to bring his light to the nations! Let us hallow his name, by being great ambassadors for Christ! Amen.