Opening Prayer: Almighty God, we come now to submit to your word, your name, to your lordship over all. We ask that you would teach us to honor your name, to disdain all vain uses of your name, and do all of this because we ask it in the mighty name of Jesus, Amen!
We have seen that the Third Commandment is concerned with worshipping God rightly. God’s name is his mighty works, his provision, and his faithfulness. We worship God rightly by bearing his name honorably, calling on his name, and confessing our faith in that Name.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Jesus taught his disciples to keep the Third Commandment in the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name…” We honor God and his name by praying to him, and when we pray to him we are to honor his name explicitly. This is one of the reasons why we begin worship with praise to God and to his name, following this pattern of prayer. Also notice the name that we are given to address God with: “Father.” This compliments what we have already said regarding God’s name being on those who have been baptized. To bear the name of God is to be part of God’s family, his covenant people, and therefore we honor that name when we call God “Our Father.” The fact that we pray “our” Father and not “my” Father should not be ignored either. This also emphasizes the corporate nature of prayer, worship, and the covenant.
Part of the Family
All of this means that honoring God’s name (and not taking it in vain) has a lot to do with recognizing where God has placed his name. He has placed his name on us as his family, his covenant people. This is what it means to have God as Father, and to honor the name of God as Father. This is what God has always intended (Lk. 3:38). But to honor our God as Father is also a call to receive his fatherly discipline. So much of the theology of Hebrews is grounded on the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore the true high priest. But if the true and perfect Son and High Priest was made perfect through suffering (2:10) and learned obedience through his sufferings (5:8), so too all those who have been made sons should not expect any different. If you endure suffering, then God deals with you as with sons (Heb. 12:7), and if you do not suffer then you are illegitimate sons. This is why you are not to despise the chastening of the Lord.
Suffering for the Name
But much of the “suffering” that the sons of God are called to endure is related to their confession of faith in the Name of Jesus (Acts 5:41, 1 Pet. 4:12ff). Peter says that this suffering in some mysterious way partakes of Christ’s sufferings (1 Pet. 4:13). And this means that it is in suffering in particular that we bear the name of Christ. This is why we should not suffer for being foolish, sinful, or wicked (4:15). It is when we suffer as Christians we are exhorted to glorify God and rejoice (4:16). This may mean physical martyrdom, but may also mean suffering the consequences of faithfulness at work, in your families, financially, etc. Refusing to send your children to government schools means assuming the cost of some alternative.
The Tower of Siloam, the Blind Man, and Job
As we consider bearing the name of God and honoring God’s name (“Father”), in the midst of suffering, it is also worth pointing out that God’s purposes in hardships vary. We know that the Scriptures teach the blessings and curses of the covenant: what a man sows he shall also reap (Prov. 22:8, Gal. 6:7). This is the general broad framework of God’s dealings in the world, but it does not exhaust God’s purposes. The story of Job, the blind man (Jn. 9:2ff), and the incident with the Tower of Siloam (Lk. 13:4-5) are all in Scripture to remind us that God’s purposes also include calling people to repentance, displaying God’s glory, and teaching us wisdom.
Conclusions & Applications
You have been called to bear the name of God, and this is a high and noble calling. But you must not forget what it means to be a Son of God, a christ, and Priestly People. All of these are titles for those who are called to die. A “christ” is literally an ‘anointed one’ which applies to both priests and kings (cf. Rev. 1:6). But the common element in this calling to be a ‘kingdom of priests’ is the calling to suffer and die. In the ordination of priests blood is put on the priests, signifying their sacrificial ministry to Israel and the world. To be a king (a son of God) is a call to battle which ultimately means a cross. The question is not whether you will suffer; the question is only when and how.
But that is not the only certain thing. If the cross is the end of the story then we are of all people to be most pitied. No, the cross precedes resurrection. This is what it means to bear the name of Christ and to honor God’s name as Father as faithful sons. It means sharing in the sufferings of Christ, receiving his fatherly discipline with joy, and it means hoping and living in the light of the resurrection. Is the resurrection true? Then you are called to live this.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Closing Prayer: Almighty and Most Merciful Father, your ways are far above our ways. Your wisdom is deeper than our wisdom, and your goodness is far beyond what we can imagine. Give us faith that we might glory in your name and honor your name in our words and lives.