Monday, August 6, 2012
“Hallowed Be Thy Name”
It is significant that the Lord's Prayer begins with the honor and reputation of God Himself. God is the Creator and Sustainer of life, and all of creation exists for His honor and glory. Worship is the fitting response of the creature.
The first petition of the Lord's Prayer bears a striking resemblance to the Third of the Eighteen Benedictions of the Jewish synagogue service: "Holy art thou, and revered is thy name. There is none other God besides thee. Blessed are thou, o Lord, the holy God." When we pray "Hallowed be Thy name," or "let Your name be sanctified," we are asking that God would be honored and venerated as God throughout all of creation.
The petition is, in fact, an outright assault on secularism in all its forms. Refusal to worship God is the sin of base ingratitude. "But," an atheist might ask, "why should modern man acknowledge God at all?" One answer to that question was given by King David 3,000 years ago. In Psalm 8 he exclaims: "O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!" (Ps. 8:1; NKJV). What prompted David to say that? "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?" (vv. 3,4). In his earlier life as a shepherd David had had the experience of gazing up at the star-studded sky, and of being struck by the sheer immensity of the universe. This, in turn, caused him to reflect on the vast disparity between God and man. If the heavens are this spectacular, how much more so must be the Creator of it all? How could it be, then, that Almighty God could take note of us?
What David has done here, in effect, is not so much to give us a technical scientific explanation of nature as to express an aesthetic appreciation of it. Nor is he being irrational: he is looking at something that actually exists. But he is deeply moved by what he sees.
Has science discovered anything in the last 3,000 years that in any way invalidates David's insight? Not really. If anything the more we learn and understand about the inner workings of nature the greater our appreciation of its majesty and grandeur should be. What we know now is that the universe is far larger and more complex than anything David could possibly have imagined. The scientist, for all of his research and investigation should be the most reverent and devout of all believers.
Ah, but the atheist will say, science has shown that there is no need for the "God hypothesis." O really? Christian theism posits the existence of a First Cause Who is eternal, self-existent and omnipotent. He created the universe ex nihilo, out of nothing. Atheists, on the other hand, have to argue that the universe somehow created itself. But if something does not yet exist, it has no power to do anything, let alone bring itself into existence. If Christian theism cannot explain the direct causal link in creation, neither can atheism. Christian theism at least posits a first cause; atheistic science has absolutely no first cause at all. And who is being irrational here?
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!