Low’s DAY 47
Chapter 2: The Implications of the First Petition
And remember that we must glorify Him as God! We must not merely say some good things about Him, as if He were some man of renown. But we must confess and proclaim His infinite goodness, all His glorious and adorable virtues, His infinite power and wisdom, His glorious majesty and sovereignty, His righteousness and holiness, His justice and truth. We must praise Him as He revealed Himself to us as the God that calleth the things that are not as if they were, and that quickeneth the dead. We must adore His glorious virtues as they shine forth to us in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord, His unfathomable love, His abundant mercy, His sovereign grace. And mark you well, that to hallow His name, His holy name that stands apart from all other names, we must give Him all the glory and praise Him in all His works. We must beware, lest we divide the glory that is due unto His name between Him and ourselves. For He is God! We never do anything for Him; He always does all things for us. His is all the glory of creation, of the government of all things, of salvation. Of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things, nothing excluded. Nor must we glorify Him and praise Him for some things which He does, while in other things we fail to see and acknowledge His infinite goodness. For His work is always perfect. And in our whole life, with all its vicissitudes, as well as in the whole course of the world’s history and of the history of the church, we must see His work and adore His name. He sends prosperity, but also adversity. He mikes peace, but war is also His work. He gives health, but He also lays us on our sick bed. He maketh alive, but He also kills. And many of the details of His work we cannot now understand: for we are children of the moment, and from the viewpoint of our passing existence we cannot see the perfection of the whole of God’s work. But believing His Word, we know that He doeth all things well, and that He is always worthy of all praise and honor and glory forever. And to hallow His name means that we express His praise, rejoicing in the God of our salvation; that we declare His glory to Him in prayer and adoration, in speech and song; and that we profess and proclaim His adorable virtues before one another and before the whole world.
But finally, it also implies that we glorify God in our whole life and walk. To glorify God in our speech and to hallow His name with our mouth, and not to sanctify the Lord God in our walk, is worse than not to glorify Him at all. To praise God with our mouth, and to walk in darkness, is of the devil. For then we are like those of whom the apostle Peter writes that by reason of them the way of truth is evil spoken of, or blasphemed.II Peter 2:2. And according to the apostle John, “If we say that we have fellowship with him; and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” I John 1:6. The more piously we talk about God with our mouth, while we commit iniquity and walk in darkness, the more abominable we become in the sight of God. The reason for this is not difficult to discern. Do we not confess that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus? And does not the workmanship reflect the character of its author? Do we not confess that God is our Father? And do not the children reflect the image of their father? If then we call Him our Father, while reflecting the image of the devil, do we not blaspheme His holy name, and become occasion for the world to blaspheme it? The prayer, “Hallowed be thy name,” therefore, does not only ask for grace that we may always glorify Him in our speech, but also for His sanctifying Spirit, that He may lead us in the way of His good commandments, so that our walk may be a reflection and manifestation of His glorious grace: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 5:16.
The Lord enjoins us in Matt. 6:9: “After this manner therefore pray ye.” And then follows’ the Lord’s Prayer.
Let us examine ourselves, and ask the question: “Are we ready to pray in this manner?”
After we have somewhat discussed the meaning and the implications of this first petition, it should have become abundantly evident that this perfect model of prayer is certainly not adapted for general use in public assemblies and mixed gatherings, as it is often supposed to be. It is only the redeemed and sanctified children of God that can even begin to stammer it.
But even so, the question still is: are we always ready to say, “Hallowed be thy name,” Are we really earnestly desirous that He hear us and grant us our petition when we ask this of Him? Suppose He hears us: are we ready to receive this grace from Him? Are we prepared to say: “Our Father Who art in heaven, glorify Thou Thy name in and through me, even though this should require that my name in this world should be completely eclipsed?” Do we really desire that He so instructs us by His Word and Spirit in the knowledge of His name that the zeal for its glory may consume us, and that His glory becomes our highest and only purpose in life? Do we really venture to ask Him for grace that we may always and everywhere confess and praise Him with our lips, that we may always and constantly maintain this confession in our walk and life, and walk as children of light? Do we deeply and clearly realize that if God should hear this prayer, we may have to suffer reproach for His name’s sake in the world, that it may cost us our job, our position, our very life? If we are really children of God, we will answer: “Yes, I am ready to pray this petition, but with fear and trembling. Lord, I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief.” For remember that we have but a small beginning of the new obedience by virtue of which we can pray this petition. And as we presented this first petition before the face of our Father in heaven, and somewhat realized its depth of meaning and tremendous significance, we probably feel that for the time being we have prayed quite enough, and that we may now properly close with the prayer: “Our Father who art in heaven, give us grace to pray, ‘Hallowed be thy name.'”
LORD’S DAY 48
Q. 123. Which is the second petition?
A. “Thy kingdom come”; that is, rule us so by thy Lord and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more to thee; preserve and increase thy church; destroy the works of the devil, and all violence which would exalt itself against thee; and also, all wicked counsels devised against thy holy word; till the full perfection of thy kingdom take place, wherein thou shalt be all in all.
Chapter 1: The Idea of the Kingdom of God
You may notice that in the Heidelberg Catechism in the 48th Lord’s Day the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” is so interpreted that it implies especially three elements.
The first element is that God may more and more so rule over us by His Word and Spirit that we may submit ourselves more and more to Him. This we might call the personal, individual element in this petition, according to the Heidelberg Catechism. And it is very necessary, especially in our day that this personal element have all the emphasis.
Over against many voices that clamor for the kingdom of God as if it were a kingdom of this world, it is urgent that the church loudly and emphatically proclaim the testimony of the Word of God: the kingdom of God is not of this world. Nothing is more common in our day than to speak of the establishment of the kingdom of God in every domain of human life. The kingdom of God must come in the state, in the domain of politics, in society, in national and international spheres. Its fundamental idea is that of righteousness among men,—political righteousness, social righteousness, industrial righteousness, national and international righteousness. The possibility of its realization is given with the fundamental soundness of human nature and the universal brotherhood of man. This social kingdom gospel is a philosophy that has borrowed almost all its terms from Scripture and from the faith of the church, without adopting their essential meaning. It speaks of sin, but not as corruption of the whole human nature, nor as guilt that makes us damnable before God. It speaks of Christ, but not of the Christ of the Scriptures, who was delivered for our transgressions and raised for our justification. It speaks of righteousness, but not of the righteousness which is of God by faith in Jesus Christ. It speaks of regeneration, but not of a radical change of the heart, wrought by the Spirit of Christ. Over against this beautiful and appealing, yet very deceiving and vain philosophy, it is well to state definitely the truth of Scripture and the faith of the church concerning the kingdom of God. It is well to remind ourselves that the kingdom of God is emphatically a kingdom of God, not of man. It is well to emphasize that the kingdom of God is based on the righteousness of God which is in Christ Jesus, not on the righteousness of man. It is absolutely necessary that we realize that the kingdom of God is principally established not by a man made change in human relationships, but by a divinely wrought redemption and regeneration of the individual sinner. And therefore, the Heidelberg Catechism is principally correct when it presents the idea of the kingdom of God first of all as personal matter: “Rule us so by thy word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more to thee.” The petition, “Thy kingdom come,” means primarily and principally: let Thy kingdom come in our hearts.
Secondly, and it is also necessary to emphasize this element, you may notice, that when the Catechism broadens out, it does not include the whole world, it does not speak of a universal brotherhood of man, but it explains this petition as a prayer for the church. And therefore it limits it to the communion of saints in Christ Jesus. You can never make the scope and the sphere of the kingdom of God, as far as its subjects are concerned, any broader than this. It is always limited to the church.
And finally, the Catechism explains the kingdom of God as principally eschatological. Its perfect realization and final manifestation must never be expected in this world, nor by way of gradual development, but by the final wonder of the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ from heaven in the day of His coming. To this the Heidelberg Catechism refers in the last clause: “till the full perfection of thy kingdom take place, wherein thou shall be all in all.”
The kingdom of God as to its main idea is the commonwealth in which God is king, in which He is known and acknowledged, loved and freely obeyed, by willing subjects as the only sovereign of all, whose Word is law, written in the hearts of all the citizens of the kingdom. It is such a rule of God as finds free and willing response in the hearts of the subjects of this kingdom. Hence, as the Catechism explains, the second petition means that we pray that God may so rule us by His Word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more to Him. Upon this element the emphasis must be placed. God is, of course, always king. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom ruleth over all. He rules over all the wide creation, and over every creature in heaven, on earth, and in hell.