Let your name be sanctified.—Matt. 6:9.
Many people can recite the Lord’s Prayer from memory. In our door-to-door ministry, we often refer to this prayer to help householders understand that God’s Kingdom is a real government that is going to bring wonderful changes to our earth. Or we may refer to the first request in the prayer to show that God has a personal name, which is to be sanctified, or “treated as holy.” Did Jesus intend that this prayer be repeated word for word every time we pray, as is done by many in Christendom? No. Just before Jesus provided this prayer as a pattern, he said: “When praying, do not say the same things over and over again.” On a later occasion, he restated this prayer but used different wording. Thus Jesus helped us know what sort of things we need to ask for and in what order of importance. Hence, it is fitting to call it the model prayer.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have most assuredly publicized the name of God. Since 1931 God’s personal name has been officially linked to the Watchtower and Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses. The name of God appears on the front cover of every Watchtower Magazine.
Since jw.org has come online it has become the most translated website in the entire world with approximately 800 different languages available. No other site even comes close. Wikipedia is the second most translated site with less than 300 languages. And it is not merely virtual. As of January 2017 the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society publishes the New World Translation in 150 languages, each translation rendering the Hebrew Tetragrammaton into a pronounceable name.
But do Jehovah’s Witnesses contribute to the sanctification of God’s name by merely preaching? No. Just the opposite. Because Jehovah’s Witnesses are inseparably associated with God’s holy name only Jehovah’s Witnesses can cause others to reproach the name they bear before the public, which the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses have done. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses are considered false prophets by many who are familiar with the organization’s history —a charge that is not without some basis in fact.
More egregious, in recent years the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses have come under scrutiny for their child abuse policies that have shielded pedophiles and punished their victims. Ironically, the Watchtower’s stated motive in covering up the crimes committed against children in the congregations has been to keep the name of Jehovah from reproach. How perverse! Now, instead of the pedophile bearing his own guilt for the crimes they have committed, the Watchtower organization has made itself complicit in protecting pedophiles from prosecution and in so doing has brought far more reproach upon the name of God then the actual sexual abuse.
Just think if the Watchtower would have been zealous in bringing in law enforcement –utilizing the expertise of professionals to assist the elders in investigating accusations of child abuse –quite likely the organization would not have become the pedophile paradise, such as it has become; and most assuredly, men would think twice before they harmed a child if they knew there were going to be legal consequences. Had the Watchtower’s lawyers been more concerned with actually protecting children rather than protecting the Society’s coffers by mollycoddling pedophiles to avoid potential lawsuits from them, they could have avoided disrespecting the name of Jehovah. But now Bethel has become more guilty than the pedophiles! And the well-worn platitudes of consolation offered to victims of abuse, telling them to “wait on Jehovah,” is going to come back to bite them —as the penalty for bringing reproach on God’s name is going to be severe.
The 36th chapter of Ezekiel is addressed to “Israel,” but in reality applies to Jehovah’s Witnesses: “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: ‘Not for your sakes am I acting, O house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will certainly sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the nations, which you profaned among them; and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘when I am sanctified among you before their eyes.’”
The Israelites brought reproach on God, not only through their own actions, but because they obligated Jehovah to destroy them the nations reproached Jehovah as being an impotent God. That the prophecy actually applies to Jehovah’s Witnesses is evident even in the Watchtower’s own interpretation. According to the Watchtower the attack of Gog will come upon Jehovah’s Witnesses in the future. That being the case, Ezekiel 39:7 states: “‘And I will send fire against Magog and against those who are inhabiting the islands in security, and they will have to know that I am Jehovah. I will make my holy name known among my people Israel, and I will not allow my holy name to be profaned any longer; and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah, the Holy One in Israel.’”
What does it mean that Jehovah will make his holy name known among his people? Don’t his people already know his name? Israel certainly knew God’s name and so do Jehovah’s Witnesses. That being true, Jehovah making known his name has to do with God taking action. It has to do with Christ executing Jehovah’s judgments. It means that the sanctification of God’s name will impact Jehovah’s Witnesses foremost.
Whereas, it is one thing to know that God has a personal name, it is something else entirely to encounter the God who bears the name. That is why through the prophet Amos Jehovah declared: “Get ready to meet your God, O Israel.” Jehovah’s Witnesses would do well to get ready too.