Sunday, 29 October 2000 00:00

What's In A Name?

Exodus 20:7 (KJV)

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Over familiarity of this commandment makes it one of the least understood of the Ten Commandments. You might say... "This means don't cuss!" but it means so much more.

  1. God's name is meaningful... "the name of the LORD thy God"
    In our day, names don't mean much. However, in Bible days, a name was important, and had significance because it spoke of the character of the one carrying the name. Jacob ("deceiver, supplanter") became Israel ("God's fighter"). Abram ("of Ur") became Abraham ("father of many"). Saul ("the killer of Christians") became Paul ("a Christian").

    Your name even carries with it significance. You're mad when it is mispronounced! It is no different with God. When He reveals Himself to us, He uses His names.

    • LORD - YHWH (Jehovah) means "self-existent" or "I am"—God's proper name.
    • God - Elohim (the plural of El) which signifies the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
    • God Almighty - El Shaddai (the God who sustains).
    • Jesus - God shall save.

    "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." The word vain is used over 50 times in the Old Testament. In Psalm 127:1, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." The word "vain" means "useless, empty, or meaningless."

  2. God's name can be misused... "take not the name of the LORD thy God... in vain."
    How can a person be guilty of a useless or empty use of the names of God?
    1. Profanity: "pro" means "in front of"; 'fan' means "the temple." The fence in front of the temple kept the unclean separated from the clean! Profanity is defilement of God's name. Example: Belshazzar (Daniel 5) is called a profane man because he used the holy things for unholy purposes. God's name is never to be used in a flippant manner. Peter cursed when he denied Christ. It reveals a lack of a relationship with Him.
    2. Perjury: Leviticus 19:12 - "Thou shalt not swear falsely by my name." Vows made in court, or at the marriage altar, or other oaths bring great responsibility.
    3. Pretense: When a man frivolously or lightly claims to be a Christian.
      "Lord, did we not do many wonderful works in your name?" (Matthew 7:22).
  3. God's name is always magnificent... "the LORD thy God..."
    This verse, which contains the third commandment, also contains a caution. "God will not hold him guiltless" who takes His name in vain. There is a day of judgment. However, for those who confess His name, call upon His name, and cherish it --
    1. There is salvation... "There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
    2. There is strength... "through faith in his name (Christ Jesus), this man hath been made strong" (Acts 3:16)—Peter's response to the lame man's healing.
    3. There is security... "The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runs into it and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10).
    "God hath given Him a name that is above every name."

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