Monday, May 28, 2012

Exodus 20:7 Don't Misuse God's Name

"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)

There seem to be three major areas which commentators deal with when they examine this verse and the commandment about not using God's name in vain.  Here are the main ones:

Don't use God's name as a curse word.  This one is pretty self-explanatory.  For some reason, (probably our sinful hearts), we tend to insert God's name or titles for God into the middle of curse-filled phrases when a situation becomes overwhelmingly frustrating or enraging.  I don't need to go into excessive detail over this, for we all have heard (and perhaps said) many examples of this behavior.  It is wrong because it dishonors God, especially since instead of speaking about how incredible He is, we are using His name in the midst of an angry outburst.  Instead of praising Him, we are making His name a part of behavior which reflects our own sinful lack of self-control.

God's name is special.  Often in the Bible, a person's name reflected something about his/her character or essential nature.  A well-known example of this is Jacob.  He was Abraham's grandson, and used deceit to steal his brother's blessing as the oldest son.  He also purchased his brother's birthright by buying it from his brother for a bowl of stew.  Jacob's name means 'He grasps the heel.' (which signifies, 'He deceives.').  [Later, God changed Jacob's name to 'Israel' -- 'He struggles with God.']

In the same way, God's name reveals something of His character and nature.  God has revealed many aspects of Himself by the various names which are given for Him in the Bible.  I probably will do a post or series on that sometime, but for now, here are just a few examples of the way the names for God reveal Him:

Desire of Nations (Haggai 2:7)
Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6)
Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 41:14)
I AM (Exodus 3:14)
Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5)
Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6)
Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
Redeemer (Isaiah 41:14)
Refuge (Isaiah 25:4)

One list I examined had over 100 names for God from the Scriptures, and this still was not the total sum of names of God revealed in the Scriptures.  That makes sense, since we are describing God, who is infinite, and complex beyond all imagining.  God is sinless, pure, faithful, holy.  Therefore, we need to take care as to how we use His name.

Don't carelessly swear an oath in God's name.  Leviticus 19:12 says "Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God.  I am the LORD."  Such false testimony (whether in a court setting or between individuals) would dishonor God's name.  Note that the objection seems to be the fact that the oath is a false one, not simply the fact that an oath is taken.

The NIV Study Bible, in its comment on Matthew 5:33-37, notes that "The Old Testament recognized the useful role of swearing oaths in certain situations (even God swore oaths: see, e.g., Genesis 22:16; Joshua 5:6; Psalm 89:3-4,35; Isaiah 45:22; Jeremiah 22:5; Ezekiel 26:7; see also notes on Genesis 9:13; Genesis 15:17; Deuteronomy 6:13; Jeremiah 22:5; Hebrews 6:13) -- common profanity is not in view..."

In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus urged his disciples to have such integrity that swearing an oath to back up their words would not even be necessary:

"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago,
'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the LORD.'
But I tell you, Do not swear at all:
either by heaven, for it is God's throne;
or by the earth, for it is his footstool;
or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
And do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make even one hair white or black.
Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No', 'No';
anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

Matthew 5:33-37 (NIV)

I am sure that there is probably much more which can be said about this matter, but that is all I have for now.  If I find further information, I'll add it later.

No comments:

Post a Comment