Tag Archives: Isaiah

The Lord’s Prayer #9 – Holy Father.

‘Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed be your name.’ (Matthew 6:9 NRSV)

This is the first of the four parts of The Lord’s Prayer that we shall be looking at.  This prayer is also known as the Paternoster (from the Latin) and its English equivalent the ‘Our Father’ by Roman Catholics.

In this section we are looking at the fact that God is our Holy Father and how we should respond to that.

If you are a Roman Catholic reading this, then you will be saying but that is the Pope’s title.  I would challenge that!  That title should belong to God alone.

Jesus said, ‘call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father – the one in heaven.’ (Matthew 23:9 NRSV). And elsewhere we read that God is ‘Holy, holy, holy’ (Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8 NRSV), we see this here by two things that ‘Our Father’ is ‘in heaven’, and that our response is to hallow his name, that is to treat it as holy.

Let’s unpack this section in a bit more detail.

The first thing that we should notice is that we pray in , the prayer starts with ‘Our Father’, not ‘My Father’.  Even when we pray alone we always pray as part of the Body of Christ.  In fact we never can pray alone! Jesus could, but when we pray all the Trinity is involved, we pray to the Father, through the Holy Spirit and in the name and power of Jesus.

So we pray in community, but we are also praying as part of the family, this is unique to Christianity.  Under the Old Covenant Abraham was a friend of God, and John was the last and greatest prophet under that Old Covenant, but Jesus said that, ‘the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he’ (Matthew 11:11 NRSV).  There are two reasons for this, firstly because John was not filled with the Holy Spirit, and secondly because under the New Covenant we are children of God which John was not under the Old Covenant.

We are praying to ‘Our Father’ who is ‘in heaven’.  Scripturally there are three heavens. The physical heavens, the spiritual realm, and heaven where God dwells (I shall look at this in another post).  It is the third of those that is being referred to here, where God dwells.  Here there is nothing unholy, because God is absolutely HOLY.

This is why our response must be, ‘hallowed be your name’.  Our response to God’s holiness must be to recognise that holiness, and ask him to help us to live all of our lives in the light of that.  God’s heart is that everything will be ‘Holy to the LORD’ (Zechariah 14:20 NRSV) from horse bells to common cooking pots.  It is not about retreating from the world, but being so filled with God that all we do is touched by God and can be used to glorify him alone.

Holy Father, help me to live my life in light of who you are.  To worship you alone, and to live my whole life dedicated only to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer and Isaiah 9:6 #8

We most often hear Isaiah 9:6 read at Christmastime as it is about the coming Messiah, but what you may well ask has it got to do with The Lord’s Prayer?

‘For a child has been born to us,
     a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
     and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
     Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’  (Isaiah 9:6 NRSV)

When we look deeper into The Lord’s Prayer, I will be looking at in four sections (excluding the doxology), which is how it splits up if you take into consideration that it is Hebrew poetry.

In this post we shall be looking at Jesus in The Lord’s Prayer!  This splits it up into the same four sections, so it introduces the rest of the studies really well, and it also reveals another facet of this great prayer.

Before that we need to note that ‘authority rests upon his shoulders’.  Jesus has authority, more than that he said after his resurrection in the introduction to the Great Commission, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’ (Matthew 28:18 NRSV).  Jesus has all authority!  But how do we access this authority?  Through prayer (and fasting) alone, that is how Jesus accessed his Father’s authority before he was crucified, he had all authority then but choose not to use it, he chose only to act with his Father’s authority!  But after Jesus resurrection and before his Ascension he now has ‘all authority’, and when we pray his way we are standing in his authority, this is also why we pray for things ‘in Jesus’ name’, and can pray expecting to see things happen!

In a very real sense The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer about Jesus, as each of the characteristics of the Messiah from Isaiah 9:6 is mirrored by a section in the prayer.  Here’s what I mean:

‘Everlasting Father’ mirrors
‘Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed be your name.’

Jesus is co-eternal with the Father, he is not a created being.  Father in Isaiah refers to  how a king is father to their nation.

‘Mighty God’ mirrors
‘Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
     on earth as it is in heaven.’

 Jesus is the Mighty God, he is able to do on earth what he has already purposed in heaven.

‘Prince of Peace’ mirrors
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
     as we have forgiven our debtors.’

Jesus is our peace because in him we have all the physical and spiritual provision we need.

‘Wonderful Counsellor’ mirrors
‘And do not bring us to the time of trial,
     but rescue us from the evil one.’

Counsellor here refers to someone who gives advice in a council of war these days we wold call him a general, and Jesus is the most wonderful and amazing general there is.

Aspects of God in The Lord’s Prayer.

In the following studies I will look at how The Lord’s Prayer focuses on four aspects of the character of God, as you will see they are very close to the four kingly titles of Jesus from Isaiah 9:6.  Here are the four aspects of who God is: Holy Father, Sovereign King, Daily Provider and Mighty Warrior.  Here is the overall plan of The Lord’s Prayer that I have developed.

God and Us in Prayer.
     Holy Father.
     Sovereign King.
Us and God in Prayer.
     Daily Provider.
     Mighty Warrior.
Later Doxology.
 

Why is The Lord’s Prayer so powerful? 

It is because the whole of the prayer is based on who God is and how interacts with his people and with the world in which we live.

Have you thought of The Lord’s Prayer as being based on God’s character or has it always just been a list of things to ask for?  Does this idea revolutionise your view of this prayer?

Ezekiel 1:26-28 – A Vision Of The Glory Of God

‘And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of the throne was something that seemed like a human form.  Upwards from what appeared like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and downwards from what looked like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and there was splendour all round.  Like the bow in the cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendour all round.  This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.  When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone speaking.’  (Ezekiel 1:26-28. NRSV)

Ezekiel was very much a seer, God spoke to him visually and he also experienced the hand of the Lord on him, the heavens opened and visions of God.  If you have ever experienced the glory of God or a vision of it then you would say, ‘WOW!!! What more can I say?  Nothing!!!’, as you can connect with what Ezekiel is saying.

If, however, you have never experienced God in this way then it can be a bit difficult to get your head around it.  I’ll look at three things to help you get your head round it a bit, at what is in this chapter in Ezekiel, from elsewhere in the Bible and from my own experience to help you connect with what he says more.

What is a vision?

What Ezekiel saw was a vision of heavenly beings (the living creatures with their wheels that he described in Ezekiel 1:5-22) and of God himself on his heavenly throne.  But what is a vision?  Is it just like a dream or a day-dream or is it different.

With a vision you are definitely awake, it is not an idle day-dream where your mind just wanders, it is God touching you and all your senses physically.  Dreams and pictures can be gentle, but there is nothing gentle about having a vision, it is God touching our physical reality with heaven’s reality (which if anything is actually more real than this physical reality).  You are there physically, and all your physical senses are working and you also can physically interact in the vision, as Ezekiel did when he ate the scroll in Ezekiel 3:2.

[Now one word of warning, some people say there are different levels of visions and differentiate between visions in and out of the body as if it is important – it is not.  I say this with confidence as this was Paul’s view, ‘I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows.’ (2 Corinthians 12:2 NRSV).  If Paul didn’t consider it important as God is the only one who really knows the answer anyway, then neither do I!]

Indescribable glory!

If you have had a vision yourself, or you talk or read about one that is in the Bible then you get ‘like’ coming up a lot.  In the NRSV we read ‘like’ 23 times, and that is just in Ezekiel 1!  There is always a difficulty describing a vision because there is difficulty in expressing heavenly things in our earthly language, we don’t have a frame of reference of heavenly things, only of earthly things so there is always this difficulty in describing a what has been seen and experienced in a vision.

Another aspect of God’s indescribable glory is the fact that God’s glory has physical weight.  This is one reason why when people encounter it they are very soon flat on their faces, on the floor and unable to get up like Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:28)  was until the Spirit lifted him up (Ezekiel 2:2).

When the prophet Isaiah was called we read, ‘In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple.’ (Isaiah 6:1 NRSV).  Royal regalia is heavy, it is not just for show that Queen Elizabeth II had Maids of Honour carrying her train when she was crowned, that is the picture here and gives a good description of the glory of God.

God’s glory has a physical weight and presence.  If you have a vision of God then you will experience it, and you may experience it at other times as well, both in corporate gatherings and alone.  Even in corporate gathering not everyone will experience the same thing.  There are occasions when God’s glory falls in a mighty way, such as times when he is moving in revival power, when this happens then everyone will be flat on the floor and will know it is God who is present in a mighty way.

If God does have his hand upon you and you experience the weight of his glory then you won’t be able to move until he either removes it or until he enables you to stand in his presence by the Spirit raising you up, we see examples of both in Scripture.

The Fear of the Lord.

A vision is never like a nightmare!  When you have a vision you experience the fear of the Lord in a very real way, this is completely different from the frightened fear that you have when you have a nightmare.

What do I mean? For one thing, ‘perfect love casts out fear’ (1 John 4:18 NRSV), for another, under the New Covenant God is our Father.  If I watch my young 3¾ year old son interact with my husband, his father, we see what this means, he is bold with his dad and loves him beyond measure, he does not fear him, but he does know that his dad is the ultimate authority, and that what his dad says goes!  This is how it should be with God, and is why the fear of God is so different from a frightened fear.  You could say that it is perfectly rational fear, it is the awe we were created to experience, not an irrational fear that fears punishment that is a result of the fall of humankind.

Have you ever seen a vision or experienced God’s glory like Ezekiel?  Do you know what it really is to know the fear of the Lord?  If you haven’t, has this post helped you understand better what Ezekiel is talking about?  I would love to hear your views.