PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 20:7 – Word #3; For the Sake of His Name

07/24 Exodus 20:7 Word #3 For the Sake of His Name

We are studying God’s ten words, the household rules for his children. God starts with himself, because everything is all about him. This universe is God-centered. He starts by reminding us of how he acted to save us. He is our rescuer, our redeemer, our deliverer. His action is the foundation of our relationship. Now that he has set us free from slavery, free to worship and serve him, this is what life should look like. First, we are to know him. We are in relationship with the one true God. We must know who he is so that we can worship him as he is. We must know him as Father, Son and Spirit; the one true God. God is to be alone at the center of our lives. He is not satisfied to be even the first among a list of persons or things we live for. He will tolerate no other gods in our lives. Second, we must not try to dumb him down and make him manageable and understandable. We must not imagine him to be something he is not. We must not imagine him to be less than he is, less that what he has told us about himself. We are not free to think of him as we like. We are not to model our idea of the creator after any part of his creation. We must know and worship him as he really is, as he reveals himself to us in his word. Anything less is idolatry, or spiritual adultery. He is jealous God will tolerate no competitors for our affection and devotion.

Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Today we will look at word # 3:

7 “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.

God’s household rule #3 has to do with how we use his name. We will look at what is prohibited, why it is prohibited, and what the consequences are for disobedience, and we will look at what a life looks like that keeps this command.

What is Prohibited?

First, what is prohibited. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.” When I was a kid, I thought this was the no cussing commandment. No foul language. No obscenity. No profanity. There is some truth to this. The very word ‘profanity’ highlights the distinction between what is sacred or set apart or holy, and what is profane or common or outside. We are not to take what is sacred or holy and treat it as if it were profane. But this command specifically deals with the name of God. We are not to treat God’s name as common or ordinary. We are not to trivialize God. There are plenty of other scriptures that deal very clearly with what kind of things come out of our mouths, like Ephesians 4:29 and Matthew 12:36 and 15:18 and 2 Corinthians 12:20 and James 3. What comes out is evidence of what is in our hearts, and that is the root of the issue. This command deals specifically with how we handle God’s name. The language is that of the courtroom. For instance, we are not to use God’s name in an oath to give weight to what we are saying, and then lie. Taking an oath is a serious matter. When we take an oath in God’s name, we are appealing to a higher authority, one who has the right and the ability to destroy us if we are not honest in our speech. God does not allow his name to be taken lightly, used casually, or thrown around. Jeremiah (14 & 29) addresses prophets who prophesy in the name of the LORD when the LORD did not speak to them. God has some severe things to say to those who misuse his name and misrepresent him in this way. To take God’s name on our lips and then treat it as if it means nothing to us is the essence of what is forbidden here.

Why is this prohibited?

Why is this such a big deal? Why is God so concerned with how we treat his name? First of all, God is God. He is the supreme one, the sovereign one, the self-existent one. He has the right to take himself seriously, and he has the right to demand that we do the same. God says in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 33:2 “Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it––the LORD is his name:

And in Isaiah:

Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

YHWH is our Maker, our Redeemer, the God of the whole earth, and he does not share his glory.

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

God’s name is a gift to us. He says in the prologue to the ten words, “I am YHWH your God.” When Moses asked the voice from the burning bush to identify himself, God said:

Ex 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”’ 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

God gave his name to his people. He entered into a covenant relationship with them. He gave himself to them to be their God. Knowing God’s name is important. Some people you only know by their official title. Some people you know as acquaintances. But other people you know on a first-name basis. You can call them your friend, and you can call them in the middle of the night if you are in trouble and need their help. God gives himself to his people as it were on a first-name basis and says ‘I will be your God – you can call me any time.’ But it would be inappropriate to scribble his name and number on the bathroom wall.

God’s name stands for his character. When we talk about his name, we are not talking about proper spelling and pronunciation. We are talking about the person behind the name. When Moses asked God to show him his glory, God answered this way:

Exodus 33:18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

Exodus 34:5 The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Moses asked to see God’s glory. God responded by proclaiming his name and describing his character.

So to take God’s name in a vain or to treat it as worthless is to disregard his authority and trample his gift and undermine his character.

God’s Purpose for his Name

This third command ties into one of God’s purposes in the Exodus:

Exodus 9:16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. (cf. Romans 9:17)

God’s intention in his victory over rebellious Pharaoh was the global proclamation of his name or character. God is putting his reputation on display to win the nations.

Revalation 15:4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

In fact, in Psalm 138 we are told that God exalts his name and his word above all things.

Psalm 138:2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

In Ezekiel 36, God says that Israel defiled the promised land by their ways and their deeds, and it says he poured out his wrath on them because of their idolatry and scattered them among the nations:

Ezekiel 36:20 But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ 21 But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came. 22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.

God acts to vindicate the holiness of his great name. His priority is to clear his reputation in the sight of the nations so that they can put their trust in him. He acts for the sake of his holy name. He jealously defends the honor of his name which his people have profaned.

The Consequences for Disobedience

This is why the consequences are severe.

7 “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.

Causing the reputation of God to be questioned is the most serious of offenses. The consequences are not specified, but the punishment is certain. The LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. To trivialize God in the eyes of people is not a trivial offense.

What it means to keep this commandment

Inside this prohibition is a positive command. What would not taking the name of the LORD your God in vain look like in a person’s life? This is the first thing Jesus told us to pray for.

Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

May God’s name be reverenced, respected, treated with awe. May the third commandment be kept on earth as it is in heaven. Day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come” (Revelation 4:8; cf. Isaiah 6:3).

The Psalms give us some great examples of what it looks like to treat God’s name rightly

Psalm 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 34:3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

Psalm 115:1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Psalm 135:13 Your name, O LORD, endures forever, your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages.

Psalm 148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.

We are to magnify, exalt, ascribe glory to, bring renown to, praise the name of the Lord. But that is not the only way to treat God’s name rightly. The Psalms also teach us to ask:

Psalm 25:11 For your name‘s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.

Psalm 109:21 But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name‘s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!

Psalm 143:11 For your name‘s sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!

We honor God’s name by calling on his name, asking him for pardon, rescue, preservation, deliverance. By calling on him for help, we honor him as rich in mercy toward sinners, full of grace, steadfast love, righteousness, the giver of all good things. The prophet Joel promises:

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. …

Peter in Acts 2 and Paul in Romans 10 take this up and apply it to Jesus.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Peter goes on to specify what name we are to call upon to be saved:

Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Paul says:

Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

John agrees:

John 20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Peter proclaimed:

Acts 4:10 … by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead… 11 This Jesus … 12 …there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power…. 39 …They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear… 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

We honor his great name by calling on Jesus for salvation and forgiveness of sins. This is the good news.

Philippians 2:5… Christ Jesus … 8. ..humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

We must not take the name of Christ lightly. We who are called ‘Christian’ must live in such a way that we honor his name among the nations. We must bow the knee and confess Jesus as Lord to the glory of God the Father. 

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

July 24, 2011 - Posted by | Exodus, occasional | , , , , , ,

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