That the World May Know

Is God glorified and his name hallowed because of you?

While not every Christian may realise this, the fundamental purpose of why we exist is that we might glorify God. No one carefully reading Scripture can fail to see what a vitally important theme this is. We are not here for our own sakes, but for the sake of one who created us and redeemed us.

We exist for him, and he is worthy of all the honour and glory that he receives. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism so pithily and rightly stated: “Q. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

Concern for God’s glory should be at the forefront of all we do. And related to this, we should have a concern that the world may also know about God and his greatness. What we do should be aimed at pleasing and glorifying God, but also at alerting those around us to the God that we serve.

Many passages of Scripture speak to this. I just again read one example which had to do with king Hezekiah, and the attack of king Sennacherib of Assyria on Judah, as found in 2 Kings 18-19. In the prayer of Hezekiah we find this crucial petition: “So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone” (2 Kings 19:19).

That was the proper way to pray, even in a dire situation such as that. And the very next verse informs us of what a great prayer request this was: “Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Your prayer to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard’.”

So Yahweh defeats the enemy invaders, and he gets the full glory. As verses 32-34 read: “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”

Let me present a few comments on this and then offer a few other passages along these lines. Philip Graham Ryken is quite right to say this: “Hezekiah had the spiritual insight to perceive what was really at stake in this confrontation. This was spiritual warfare. The Assyrians were taunting the one true God, which no one can do without suffering the consequences. What these enemies deserved was a divine rebuke. Hezekiah therefore hoped that God would vindicate himself.”

He continues: “Hezekiah was motivated by his zeal for God’s honor, and this kept his petition from being self-centered. When we pray to the right God, for the right reason, there is no reason to make things more complicated than they need be. We can simply ask God for help, and he will answer.”

Image of 2 Kings: The Power and the Fury (Focus on the Bible)
2 Kings: The Power and the Fury (Focus on the Bible) by Davis, Dale Ralph (Author) Amazon logo

And Dale Ralph Davis offers these helpful comments:

Hezekiah’s petition is two-pronged – emergency and testimony. ‘And now, Yahweh our God, save us from his hand’ (v. 19a). Requests are fairly simple and direct when the terror of the world is outside your walls. But there is an additional petition (which actually indicates the result should Yahweh save Jerusalem): ‘And let all the kingdoms of the earth know that you, Yahweh, are God all by yourself’ (v. 19b). Yahweh’s deliverance at Jerusalem will magnify Yahweh’s reputation throughout the world. Dozens of deities had proven helpless against the mighty Sennacherib and Sennacherib’s lord, Assur; but when Assur meets Yahweh and gets creamed he will go (as it were) and join the other lesser gods. Hezekiah’s plea has its eye on his trouble and on Yahweh’s glory – and when we are concerned with God’s glory we are likely to be heard.

Lastly, a few thoughts from Warren Wiersbe:

The king had one great burden on his heart: that the God of Israel be glorified before the nations of the earth. Sennacherib had blasphemed the Lord and Hezekiah asked God to act on behalf of Judah so that His name would be honored. “Hallowed be thy name” is the first request in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9). Being a faithful Jew, the king knew that the gods of the defeated nations weren’t gods at all (Isa. 2:20; 40:19-20; 41:7; 44:9-20). He asked the Lord to save the people of Judah, not for their sake but for the glory of His great name.

Other texts like this can be appealed to here. One example involves Moses and his great concern that God should not be dishonoured among the pagans. Yahweh was going to wipe out the Israelites for their sin, but Moses was worried about the impact this would have on the surrounding world. As we read in Exodus 32:11-14:

But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ “Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

And one of the most famous examples of this comes from the story of young David and his battle with Goliath. Notice his concerns as found in 1 Samuel 17:45-47:

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Other passages come to mind, including those found in the Psalms. In Psalm 9:20 we read, “Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men.” And in Psalm 79 this theme is focused on, especially in verse 10: “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’”

Here then we find this oft-repeated concern of God’s servants:

-Moses: “Why should the Egyptians say…”
-Hezekiah: “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone”
-David: “and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel”
-The Psalmist: “that the nations may know”
-The Psalmist: “Why should the nations say…”

So what are you living for? How are your prayers framed? What is your goal in living the Christian life? Is it all about bringing glory to God and letting those around you know about the one true living God? The world is in desperate need to know the God that we serve. Are people learning about this God from your life?

And most important of all, is God’s name being hallowed in all that we do, say, think and pray?

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