Summary: Looks at the various way God’s name can be misused.
Very few things bug me as much as hearing the Lord’s name misused. When I was 15 I went to work on the tugboats out of Saint John New Brunswick and hanging around with sailors it didn’t take long before I had pretty much heard any words that I might have missed in high school. And so if you take the time I spent on Tugboats, and oil tankers and Fishing Boats and the little bit of time I spent with the Military Police in the Reserves I think I’ve heard it all. And for the most part obscenities deal with bodily functions or body parts and don’t really require a lot of imagination and while I’m not necessarily comfortable hearing them I’m not personally offended. My dad put it in perspective for me a long time ago when he told me that obscenities were the refuge of illiterates and children. William Ward said “Profanity is the use of strong words by weak people”
And you know what, when I hear someone cuss I automatically make value judgements about them, I know it’s not right but I immediately put them into a stupid category, not necessarily uneducated there are a lot of educated and seemingly intelligent people who talk as if they had been to hell for a post-graduate course with the devil as their speech instructor, but they sound stupid.
But it’s different when I hear God’s name being misused I cringe inside, because it is personal they are talking about my God, my Saviour. The sad thing is that society as a whole and even Christians seem to feel just the opposite. They feel like blasphemy isn’t as bad as some other words. I don’t know how many times someone’s told me about a movie and I’ve asked the question, “How’s the language?” And I’m told that “Oh there isn’t any foul language in it” and then when I see the movie I discover that there are very few obscenities but the Lord’s name is misused time and time again. I’ve mentioned to believers about this movie or that movie that I’ve pushed the stop button or walked out on because of the language and they’ll say, “Well it didn’t have this word or that word in it.” And they are right, but the Lord’s name was misused frequently and the sad part is that even believers have become immune to hearing it.
And we shouldn’t be immune to it, it should bother us when we hear our God’s name misused. And there are several different ways that it can be misused. The first of course is the one most of us think about when we hear this commandment and that is verbally, profanity. Video clip,
You ever want to do that to someone? That kind of hits home with me. When I was eleven or twelve, you know the age trying to be more grown up then you are, I tried out one of the new words that I had heard in the schoolyard on my parents. I very casually slipped it into a joke I was telling them, trying to appear a little more mature. I was spanked as a child, probably not nearly as often as you might think, but I was spanked and I don’t recall any specific spankings that I received. I do however remember the consequences of my actions that day. And it was very similar to what happened to Indy.
So the question is why? Why is this command here, we know the what; Don’t misuse God’s name, but why? Shouldn’t God be bigger then being offended by name calling after all what were we taught as kids, Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. You have to understand how much more there is to this then simply the name of God, which by the way we don’t have. When the Old Testament was written the God’s of the surrounding countries all had names but the Jews wouldn’t even speak the name of their God.
When we think of God in the Old Testament we think of the name Jehovah, but the Jews spelt it YHWH, try pronouncing that. And even then they wouldn’t use it verbally instead they would refer to him when they spoke as “Ha Shem” which literally means “The Name”. Often in the Bible, the names used for God are revelatory of His character. God is revealed to us in Scripture by His names. They show us His nature.
He is El Shaddai, the Strong One. He is El-Elyon, God Most High. He is El-Olam, the Everlasting God. He is Jehovah Jirah, the God Who Provides. He is Jehovah Rophe, the God Who Heals. He is Jehovah M’Kaddesh, the God Who Sanctifies. He is Jehovah Shalom, the God of Peace. He is Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts. He is Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord Our Righteousness. He is Jehovah Shammah, the God Who is There. He is Jehovah Nissi, the Lord Our Banner. And He is Jehovah Roi, the Lord Our Shepherd. Today though we call Him God and that is what is relevant for us today in the third commandment.