“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
The Second Commandment.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.
What does this mean?–Answer:
We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. – Martin Luther’s Small Catechism
Those of us who are prone to the use of expletives are very convicted upon contemplating the Second Commandment. God has an identity. God is real, in fact so real that He is beyond time. He is the I AM. We are commanded to reserve the use of His name for praise, prayer, supplication and thanksgiving- and not for empty mocking or cursing.
In the First Commandment we learn that God is a jealous God Who does not take rivals lightly. Through Elijah God proved the false god Ba’al to be exactly that: false. We learn in 1 Kings 18:20-40 that God not only brought the fire down from heaven, but He also destroyed the 450 prophets of Ba’al. There is power in God’s Name. There is no power in the names of idols- whether we call them Ba’al, Molech, Mammon, or by the names of the idols we create. There is also no real power in the names or in the earthly authority of governments, corporations or ourselves. The power we think we have in our own authority – and in that of worldly authorities- is given by God. Our earthly existence is as tenuous and temporary as that minute electrical signal that triggers our heartbeats. God holds all the power.
In these days we are tempted to follow the lead of the culture around us, to take the use of the Name of God lightly, or to doubt in God’s power or sovereignty.
When we call upon the Name of God we are calling upon the power of the Omnipotent Source of all power. We are commanded to remember that, and we are privileged to have been given that connection to our all-powerful God.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)