18th Sunday after Pentecost October 9, 2022


That God’s Name Be Kept Holy Among Us

Ezekiel 36:22-28

Scripture Readings

James 5:13-20
Mark 1:21-28


1, 20, 24, 45

Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted

+ In the Name of Jesus Christ +

Prayer of the Day: Most glorious Trinity, in Your mercy we commit to You this day our bodies and souls, all our ways and goings, all our deeds and purposes. We pray You, so open our hearts and mouths that we may praise Your name, which above all names alone is holy. And since You have created for us the praise of Your holy name, grant that our lives may be for Your honor and that we may serve You in love and fear; for You, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”’” (NKJV)

In the name of our Savior God who is deserving of honor and glory, dear fellow redeemed;

In the Lord’s Prayer, one of the petitions we bring to our heavenly Father is, “Hallowed be Thy name.” From our catechism instruction we learned that the meaning of this petition is that “God’s name is certainly holy all by itself, but we pray in this petition that we also keep it holy.” Martin Luther went on in his catechism to tell how God’s name is kept holy among us by stating, “God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we as children of God also live a holy life according to it. Help us do this dear heavenly Father. But whoever teaches and lives contrary to the Word of God dishonors God’s name among us. Keep us from doing this, heavenly Father.

By the grace and mercies of God we know that the name of God is very precious and is deserving of being honored and glorified. We have learned about His wonderful name that He is our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. It fills us with amazement that at the beginning of time the LORD made heaven and earth, and everything in it by His almighty Word, saying, “let there be” and it immediately came into existence. And it is by that same almighty Word that the LORD continues to governor all things for our temporal and eternal welfare. We know by faith that Jesus is God’s eternal Son who paid the full ransom price for us to be redeemed children of God and heirs of eternal life. We also rejoice in knowing that the Holy Spirit works in our minds and hearts through His powerful Word, blessing us with everything necessary for a spiritual life with God. Truly, the LORD God has a name that is above every name that at His name every knee should bow of those in heaven and on earth.

The LORD is very jealous about His holy name being honored and glorified among mankind. He wants His name to be kept holy by all those whom He has created by His almighty power and redeemed by His boundless grace. And He will not tolerate anyone dishonoring and defaming His name with their mouths and lives.

Since there are many in this world who do not yet know or believe in Him, He is very patient and longsuffering with them, not desiring that any perish in unbelief. It is His most fervent hope that as many as possible be brought to repentance and faith in Him.

We readily understand that God does this when believers seeking after and reaching out to unbelievers with the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.

Unbelievers also can be greatly impressed concerning Christianity when they witness our faith life. Our beliefs are manifested when we are seen dedicating our lives to the LORD and are observed gathering together in God’s house to hear the preaching of His Word and lift up our voices in worship of His holy name. Still another powerful testimony given to unbelievers is when we show Christian love for others as we strive to put God’s commandments into practice.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us instruction and exhortation concerning this very thing by saying, You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

In today’s Scripture text, we are sadly reminded of the fact that many bearing the name of God have not always been so faithful in honoring His name. As a result of this, instead of causing the name of God to be glorified by the world, we have caused His name to be profaned and blasphemed by unbelievers. There is, however, a message of hope that issues forth from this section of Scripture. It tells of God’s gracious help that enables us to bring honor and glory to His holy name among the people of the world.

Taking a look at the circumstances surrounding our text, we find that the Israelites had been going through one of their darkest and most disgraceful periods of history as God’s chosen people. At this point in time, these chosen ones were anything but bright beacons in the world that brought honor to the name of God.

The nations of the world mocked and ridiculed the God of heaven and earth when they observed the Israelites. The heathen could see the hypocrisy of the Jews when their teachings, beliefs, and lives ran contrary to the Bible. Israel falsely held that they were worshiping the LORD God Jehovah when they erected altars dedicated to the idolatrous gods of the Canaanites. They were guilty of breaking the fifth commandment by murdering their children in offering them as living sacrifices to idols. And they broke the sixth commandment when they engaged in sexual immorality which the heathen considered to be a form of worship.

We find similar behavior in liberal churches today. We hear them say they can worship with Jews or Muslims and still be honoring the God of the Bible. They claim that the Word of God approves of abortion. And they also wink with approval at couples living together without marriage or unscriptural divorces or homosexuality and same-sex marriage. All this dishonors the precious name of God.

But then, we also must confess that we have not always honored the holy name of God. In our worship of Him, there are times when our minds wonder off and we become guilty of not worshiping Him in spirit and in truth. While we may not be guilty of transgressing the fifth and sixth commandments by overt acts, nevertheless we have broken them by entertaining impure thoughts and desires, and by speaking hurtful words. May God have mercy upon us for failing to honor Him as we ought.

On account of Israel’s grievous sin of rejecting the LORD, the Israelites were overthrown, taken captive, and led away to foreign lands. All this demonstrated how serious God is about His name being kept holy among us.

Jesus, knowing our human frailties and weaknesses, instructed us to pray that God the Father help us hallow His name. His call for us to pray this is accompanied by His promise to help us in this important area of our faith life. That promise of divine help spoken to Israel by the LORD can be found in verses 23-28 of today’s text.

Even though the heathen had mocked and ridiculed the one true God when the Israelites were defeated and enslaved, scoffing that the LORD God Jehovah was powerless to save them, God would have the last laugh. He did this by rescuing and returning Israel to their homeland. This would cause His name to be hallowed.

The return of Israel was to take place so that in the years to come the promised Christ could make His entrance into this world as the Savior of all mankind just as it had been foretold.

When Jesus completing His assigned work of redeeming the world, He would cause the name of God to be glorified. Listen to Jesus speak of this as the end of His work was drawing near. He said to His Father in heaven, Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. ‘Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.’ (John 12:27-28)

Besides the restoration of Israel, God promised to provide help that would not only enable Israel to honor His holy name, but also people of every generation to follow. Through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, we are set apart as God’s holy people by instilling faith in our hearts to believe in the one true God and in Jesus as our Savior. This wonderful separation serves to glorify God, because we are set apart from the unbelieving world to honor God with our hearts and lives.

God’s sanctifying work also involves the great blessing of spiritually purifying our souls. The cleansing that the LORD speaks of in our text is a complete washing away of all the filthiness of our many transgressions. This washing was made possible through the shedding of the holy, precious blood of Christ. The evangelist John proclaims in his epistle, the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

The Savior’s washing away of our sins is so very important in our endeavors to hallow the name of God. And how is that? For one thing we need to know and be assured that God mercifully forgives us whenever we are guilty of dishonoring God in our lives. We need to remember this, lest we be overcome with guilt over our sinfulness and fall into hopeless and despair.

Another key reason for knowing God’s forgiving love in Christ Jesus is that this is the impetus to hallow the name of God both in our words and actions. The LORD speaks of sending His Spirit to create a new spirit within us and giving us a new heart to walk in the ways of the LORD.

This new heart and spirit comes as a result of the Holy Spirit fixing our eyes on the Gospel of God’s forgiving love. This renews and increases in us the spirit of love which then spurs on us to treasure, safeguard, and proclaim the precious saving teachings of God, and to honor Him with our lives by worshiping Him, praising Him, and living in accordance to His holy ways.

May God help us hallow the holy name of God who so lovingly redeemed us unto Himself and saved us eternally. May He grant us both the will and the strength to honor Him through our speech and lives, and also by leading others to the knowledge of their Savior God. Together then, we shall be committed to glorifying our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier God. Amen.

—Rev. Mark Gullerud

Sunnyvale, CA

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