Summary: This is the third in my series on the Ten Commandments and tells how we are not to misuse God’ name for our own ends.
This series began in a search for answers to a very common misconception when it comes to whether or not a person is going to heaven. There is this belief in our society that in order for a person to be accepted by God, in order for God to hear a person’s prayers, and in order to heaven you have to obey the rules.
The Ten Commandments, of course.
Now if you’ve been here during the last two times I’ve been in the pulpit, we began blasting apart this myth. Rules do not lead to God’s acceptance. What we found is that God never gave his commandments and said, “Here’s some rules for you. If you obey these you and I can have a relationship.” Instead God gave his rules to people who he already had a relationship with.
The very next thing we talked about is that God wants to be your one and only God. Because you know what? He is the only God.
Right along with that we learned that God doesn’t want us to make anything, any idol in his image. He can’t be represented because he is bigger than anything that you and I could create. Trying to create an image of him would be, on our parts, an attempt to make him more manageable. And God is not manageable.
Today I want to continue looking at the Ten Commandments.
Now if someone were to ask you where to the Ten Commandments are you’d say, “Old or New Testament?”
Old Testament. Great.
And more specifically they’re found in the book of?
Anyone know what chapter?
Chapter 20. Wow. We really are getting this.
We’re going to be discussing a commandment that for years has had a specific meaning to most people. In fact, many of you were probably learned this very specific application while you were growing up.
If you were to look at this commandment in the King James Version, it would say, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord your God in… vain.”
Hey some of you do remember this one.
Now when I was a kid, I was taught that this commandment meant that when I got angry, when something went wrong, I was not to say, “Oh God” or “Jesus” and I was most certainly not to add the word “damn” behind them. Any of you learn that specific meaning when you were growing up?
In fact, my parents wouldn’t even allow me to say “gosh” or “gee.” And that commandment went something like this, “You shall not say “gosh” or “gee” so that you never slip into saying “God” or “Jesus.” Let’s see the hands of the people whose parents like that.
A few of you. We had some weird parents, huh?
There’s really nothing wrong with having rules to keep us from breaking other rules. Even the Israelites were doing this.
In fact, we find that in certain Jewish societies there were men whose entire lives were dedicated to copying the scriptures word for word. Now these men had a different pen and a different ink for each time they came across the name of God in the text. In many of these societies they would even go so far as to throw away or even break the pen so that there was no chance that the pen could be used for something that would be against God’s will.
Now imagine for a moment how tedious this process must have been. Take Genesis Chapter One for example. “In the beginning...” Need to change pens. “God…” SNAP! “…created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of…” Need a new pen. “God…” SNAP! “…was hovering over the waters.
In Genesis Chapter One alone the name of God is used thirty times. I’m not sure about you, but to me that’s an awful lot of pens.
But let me ask you something really important. Do you really believe this is what God was talking about when he gave this commandment? Or did we miss the boat on this one?
I mean really think about it. When you stub your toe on a chair and when you get a $300 phone bill in the mail and when your wife comes home and tells you she hit a mailbox with the car, does it really mean not to call out to God? And then does it mean not to call out to his son either?
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s still not proper to call out God’s name in anger. In fact, it’s pretty disrespectful. After all, you don’t use a friend’s name when you’re angry. You’re outside building something and bang your thumb with the hammer. How many of you yell out, “Oh Jeff?”