The Second Commandment- The Name of God- Exodus 20:7, 1 Kings 18:20-40, Proverbs 9:10

names of God

“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)

March 17, 2018 The Importance of a Name- Proverbs 22:1-2, Exodus 20:7,16, Ephesians 4:29

A-Good-Name

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. Proverbs 22:1-2 (NIV)

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Exodus 20:7 (NIV) (The Second Commandment)

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16 (NIV) (The Eighth Commandment)

The #MeToo movement has brought the ugly reality of sexual misconduct and abuse that has been ignored or overlooked in our workplaces and in the greater culture to the awareness of the public eye.   It is true that it is sometimes difficult to define what constitutes sexual harassment or misconduct because cultural mores change over time, and the definition of what may or may not be abusive can be quite subjective. What one person may consider to be harmless flirting or joking might be highly offensive to another. While it is difficult but ultimately necessary that when misconduct and abuse do occur that those painful truths are exposed and dealt with, sometimes people aren’t entirely truthful.

False accusations are nothing new.  Sometimes people accuse others of misconduct out of revenge, or for their own financial or political gain.  Some people simply thrive on others’ pity and want to elicit the same sympathy and care that real victims receive. Other times consensual acts are taken out of their contexts when a relationship sours or a promise is not kept.  Unfortunately for all of us there are consequences when we go outside the boundaries God has set for our behavior and conduct.

There is a reason why God takes His own name and reputation so seriously.  It is in His name that all creation exists.  It is in His name alone that we can exist and function and be provided for.  He gives us the gift of calling on His name for provision, for life and salvation.

The writer of Proverbs (likely King Solomon) teaches us that in life with other people reputation matters.  A good name is everything as we go about our lives in the world. Who is going to trust someone with a bad reputation?  A good reputation is something to maintain and protect.

The Second and Eighth Commandments deal with the concepts of name and reputation- the Second with God’s name, and the Eighth with the name and reputation of our neighbors.

We can destroy the reputations of others with our words.  It is imperative that we keep our speech regarding others truthful.  This doesn’t mean that legitimate abuse or misconduct should be kept silent- on the contrary, it should be exposed, if only to prevent the same abuse from happening to others.  We should be very aware of how our words affect the names and reputations of God, others, and ourselves.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)