Thursday, October 8, 2009

Telescope Magnification and Microscope Magnification

The fist petition of the Lord's Prayer is "Hallowed by thy name." What does "hallowed" mean? We don't use the word that often. Does it have something to do with Halloween? Actually, both words have hallow (from the Old English word halgian) as their root, meaning "to regard as holy." So how do we regard God's name as holy? One translation puts it, "May your name be honored" (NLT). Eugene Peterson's The Message reads, "Reveal who you are." In English, the verb form of holy is sanctify, meaning "to set apart." Peter says, "Set apart Christ as Lord" (1 Peter 3:15). We are to revere God--to exalt him above everything (and everyone) else.

But how can we sanctify God? Can we make him more holy and majestic than he is? John Piper's distinction between telescope magnification and microscope magnification is helpful here.
There's telescope magnification and microscope magnification, and it's blasphemy to magnify God like a microscope. To magnifiy God like a microscope is to take something tiny and make it look bigger than it is. If you try to do that to God you blaspheme. But a telescope puts its lense on unimaginable expanses of greatness and tries to just help them look like what they are. That's what a telescope is for.
When we pray "Hallowed be Thy name" it is not that God is made more holy than he is, but that he is more holy than we have imagined him to be. We are to pray that he will be more glorious, more beautiful, more wonderful, more magnified in our eyes.

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