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Sermon - 9/6/09
Exodus 20:7 -
His Name

Audio Sermon

His Name

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)

This is the third sermon in a series on the Ten Commandments, as revealed in Deuteronomy Chapter 5 and Exodus Chapter 20. The verse in Exodus for today is also seen in Deuteronomy 5:11. God gave these commands to humanity through the nation Israel, and considering they are the Lord’s will for the people of this world, we should study them. Our lives depend on our response to Almighty God.

Instead of looking to God, we tend to copy each other. Whatever region of the world we are in, subconsciously we listen carefully to the dialects around us, and if we stay there for any period of time, we will begin speaking like everyone else in that area. Whether we are men or women, boys or girls, we want to wear the latest fashions. Casual might be “in” right now, but if “significant” people, like movie stars and famous musicians change the “look” to formal, we will change, too. As to language, certain phrases catch on and then are used everywhere. A current phrase is “Oh my God!” said in a certain way to register excitement or surprise. It is understood that the person who utters that phrase is not addressing God – it’s just the slang of the moment.

People use His Name, but no worship is intended. They do not express faith in Him, there is no prayer, no reverence, no respect. His Name is merely another word to be used as a way of expressing a feeling, which has no relation at all to the reality that He is the God of all creation. We should note once again the Third Commandment, which concludes with the very serious words: “the Lord will not hold him (or her) guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). Displeasing God is dangerous.

When I was 12-years old, my father corrected me. Actually he corrected me on many occasions for numerous reasons, but this one had to do with our sermon for today. I was talking and he interrupted me with the words, “Don’t say that!” I didn’t know what he meant and asked him to explain. He continued, “Don’t say, ‘God, and don’t say, Jeez!’” two of the common expressions used by me and by many classmates in school. And they were two of the words in the sentence I had uttered right before he interrupted me. “God” for me was simply a reflection of the slang of that time, as it so often has been in history, and I sort of knew that “Jeez” was short for Jesus, but I didn’t let my Dad know that I knew. My father didn’t attend church and seemingly never read the Bible, so his response surprised me. Not only we did not attend church, but I had no knowledge whatsoever that God actually existed, so the words to me meant nothing, which is the way it is for most people. But God views things differently. We are responsible in His sight for not only our actions, but our words are also very important.

The Name of God is important, far more so than our names mean something. God is holy, just and true. He is our Creator and the Lord of our lives. God the Father sent His Son to die for our sins. When we use His Name “in vain,” we take that which is holy and precious and drag it through the mud. We reduce the Name of God to the level of profanity. I don’t know about you, but most people are insulted when someone debases their name. Most people want to be respected, and their name is part of it. If you feel insulted when someone treats you in a disrespectful manner, how should God respond when His Name is treated as though it were profanity. We all need to go back and read again, “the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

God revealed Himself openly to the nation Israel, giving them His Name, a sign of His grace to an entire nation. His Name is indeed a gift, especially to those who, like Abraham, place their faith in the Lord. God said to him, “I will establish my covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.” And much later in time, it was revealed that more are included than Israel alone: “If you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). His Name is a treasure given to those who place their faith in Him.

Almighty God is indeed inviting us to relationship, astonishingly to friendship, and He is interested in revealing much about Himself to us all, as friends tend to do. But it’s important, crucial actually, to recognize that He is not something like our “Big Buddy in the sky.” He is not some big-name acquaintance and we are not name-droppers who can casually include His Name in conversations. He is God.

In order to fully understand what God’s name means, we have to see who He is. How better to do so than to listen to someone who has actually seen Him. During the time Isaiah the prophet was still shocked by the death of his cousin, King Uzziah, he was given a vision of the Lord.

Here’s what he reported: "In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.' And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, 'Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.' Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, 'Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven'" (Isaiah 6:1-7).

Isaiah quoted the Lord in another place, "'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool'" (Isaiah 1:18). His Name is more than just words. It’s all about who He is. It’s about His authority, His power, His ability, as Isaiah learned, to utterly forgive us for what we have thought and done. He is the One who created the Ten Commandments we are studying. We are condemned by them for we cannot keep them, and yet He has the power, the grace and the love to forgive you and me. “Though your sins are as scarlet,” He will make you “white as snow.” Clean, inside and out.

The ground, the authority of that forgiveness is found in the Name of Jesus Christ. As Peter said, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38).

He is calling you. He has the authority, the power and the love, to legislate, to condemn and to forgive. Listen to Isaiah, who saw Him in His glory. Listen to Peter who tells us to repent in the Name of Jesus Christ. You have an everlasting deposit of eternal life in the bank of heaven. Listen to your heart, for you are being drawn to Him right now.

Lord, forgive me. I give my heart and life to You. I am Yours. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

Write to: Letters@FridayStudy.org

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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