Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Respecting God's Name

I’ve got an example of how you can break the third commandment that you probably weren’t taught in elementary Sunday School. If you remember, the third commandment reads thus: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

Before I give the example, I need to ask you what it means to take his name in vain. What do you think? The NIV’s translation is helpful here. It says, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God.” I submit there are many ways to misuse the LORD’s name.

Whatever else this commandment teaches us, it should be very evident that God is very protective of his name. In Exodus 3 we read the story of the burning bush and notice that God reveals his holy name to Moses. This is a BIG deal. Think of it—God trusting his holy name to a corrupted race of people knowing full well that they would drag it through the mud and profane it among the nations.

This in fact did happen and we can read about it in Ezekiel 36. Here God says of Israel, “And whenever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the LORD’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.’ I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone…I will show the holiness of my great name…then the nations will know that I am the LORD.” (vs 20-23)

This example shows us the anger of the LORD at the actions of Israel because his name was losing respect among the nations. As Christians we should pay attention. We often do the same.

Here is my example: I was at a traffic light the other evening with my family in the car. From the left a minivan made a swerving left hand turn nearly hitting the curb before the light changed. We then followed this erratic driver to the next light at which we noticed him roll down his window to toss a smoldering cigarette out onto the pavement. My annoyance turned to anger when my eyes caught the Jesus fish on the back of the vehicle. God’s name was profaned by that man in that moment. And he never said a word. Where’s the respect?

We must guard our words and actions carefully. The name of the LORD is not to be trifled with. And, with all he has done for us shouldn’t we long to see it lifted high?

CF: Phil. 2:9-11