Summary: God's name is not to be taken lightly
Series: Big 10
(based on a series by James Merritt)
“IN THE NAME OF GOD”
We’re continuing on today in our series: Big 10. Today’s message is “In the Name of God.”
Names are used for identification. How hard would it be to have a conversation with someone about someone else if we didn’t have a name? If you wanted to reference someone else, you’d have to describe them: “You know the guy I’m talking about. 5’8” about 165 lbs brow hair brown eyes has a scar on his face and walks with a limp.” It would be a lot easier and a lot quicker to say, “You know, Tom Smith.”
Early on, people were only known by one name: King Arthur, Charles the Great (Charlemagne), Socrates, Plato, Herod. At some point, last names (surnames) were added (usually designating the person’s trade or occupation): Baker, Cooper, Fowler, Archer, Smith, Potter, Hunter.
Parents haven’t always been careful in naming their children. These are supposed to be true instances of bad names for children. One family whose last name is Francisco named their son Stanley. He goes through life known as Stan Francisco. Another family last name of Ball named their daughter Crystal – Crystal Ball. Still another family last name Barr named their daughter Candy – Candy Barr. A real winner was the family whose last name is Tenant. They named their son Lewis and he goes through life known as Lew Tenant. The worst of all is a family whose last name is Trout and they named their twins River and Brooke.
God gave us his name. His name is unique. It’s a description of his personal nature and character. You see, God is just a generic name. God has a personal name. You may call me preacher or pastor but that’s not my name. My personal name is Michael.
God shared his personal name with Moses. He appeared to Moses in the burning bush and tells Moses that he wants him to lead God’s people out of slavery in Egypt.
Ex. 3:13-14 – Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
In many translations of the Bible, the personal name of God is written as LORD – all capital letters. When you see that spelling in your Bible, you know that it’s God’s name.
God’s name is “I am.” It speaks of the transcendence of God over everything. It speaks the truth that nothing exists that came into existence before God. It also tells us that everything that exists came from God. Every being is contingent on his being.
Ex. 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.” We don’t take God’s name seriously.
There’s a big difference between our name and God’s name. Human beings don’t name themselves unless they went to court to legally change their name. Whatever your name, it was given to you. Your parents named you. I didn’t choose the name Michael Dale Luke. My parents did.
But God is different. No one named God. We don’t tell God who he is. He tells us who he is.
One commentator: “One way for modern American to understand this commandment is to treat God’s name as trademark property. In order to get widespread distribution of his copyrighted repair manual, the Bible, and also to capture a greater market share of his authorized franchise, the Church, God has graciously licensed the use of his name to anyone who will use it according to his written instructions. It needs to be understood however that God’s name has not been released into the public domain. God retains legal control over his name and threatens serious penalties against the unauthorized misuse of this supremely valuable property. All trademark violations will be prosecuted to the full limits of the law. The prosecutor, judge jury and enforcer is God himself.”
How serious was God about this commandment? Lev. 24:10-16 – Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and a fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite. 11 The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse; so they brought him to Moses. (His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri the Danite.) 12 They put him in custody until the will of the Lord should be made clear to them.13 Then the Lord said to Moses: 14 “Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him.