Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Name of the Lord, Part I of II

The Name of the Lord, Part I of II
May 23, 2011
Exodus 20:7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

My wife and I have four children, none of whom have yet reached their teenage years. Since our children are still quite small, they depend greatly upon me and my wife. Consequently, the most commonly used words out of our children's mouths are: mom, momma, mommy, dad, daddy, and even daddio. Sometimes, it seems they might say our names over and over again and wear it out. There have been quite a few times we both wish our children would use another name when they call us because they have truly used the words "mom" and "dad" in vain so often. You've probably all heard a child in a grocery store call out "Mom," only to see four or five women turn around looking to see who is calling her. Until I became a dad, I never understood how someone could use a name in vain before. To use a name in vain means to do so in a disrespectful manner.

The Lord knew of this human tendency to use names and words in vain, even before we had a chance to prove it. Shortly after the Lord introduced Himself in the Bible, He told us not to misuse His name or speak it in vain. The Lord wanted His name to be used out of respect, to be set high above all other names or words. When the Lord introduced Himself for the very first time to Moses, He called Himself "I AM." The Lord said, "ehyeh asher ehyeh," which means "I am that I am." The Jews at that time would not call Him "I AM," they would say "Yahweh," which means "He Is." They did so out of respect. Jews who lived toward the end of the Hellenistic time period (right after the life and death of the Apostle Paul) were so intent on not using the Lord's name in vain, that they would only use the tetragrammaton "YHWH" when copying scripture or writing the Lord's name. They even made cultural laws for the use of "YHWH" or the Lord's name, so as to keep it sacred. While this might be going to extreme, it is certainly opposite of what we see and do today.

Personally, I am convicted by this because I use the word "God" very often in my references and writings regarding the Lord and His name. In fact, the Lord never refers to Himself as "God" in the Bible. The word "God" was a pagan word. The Lord refers to Himself as a god, as the ONLY god, but never uses it as His name. This is something we have put into practice only in the last few hundred years, probably improperly so. When the Lord told us not to use His name in vain, He was saying not to use it unless it was out of respect, out of reverence. This is something we fail at every day, regardless of calling Him "God" or using the word "God" in a profanity or curse. The Lord is the most important persona in the universe, yet we use His name as one of the most common words in our language. We say His name, but do not feel awestruck regarding the magnanimity for which His name stands. He is the Lord, the great I AM, the One who is above all yet we are so comfortable hearing His name that it has lost its sacred meaning to us.

The Lord wants to be called upon and certainly wants to be referenced out of respect, but He does not want to be put on a plane of equality with anything else. So, whatever form of His name you chose to use when calling upon the name of the Creator of the Universe, use it out of respect. While my children might use informal names to call me or reference me, there is a way they each can do it with the utmost of respect yet have my listening ear in an instant. In fact, my children can call upon me to save them from everything humanly possible because they know they have my ear. Christian, you have the Lord's ear, just use His name out of respect each and every day, being cognitive of its enormity.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ex 3:14-15, Ex 34:1-17, Jer 23

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