Hallow the Name
CCCAG June 11th, 2017
Scripture- Exodus 20:7
As most of you know, when I was a child, I spent most of my summer vacations in Hayward with my grandparents. My grandfather was well known in the community-
He was a Deputy Sheriff for many years
He was a conservation warden
He was a forestry technician for the US Forest Service
He was one of the most decorated WWII veterans in Sawyer County
He was president of the VFW, the Moose Lodge, as well as the Disabled Veterans of America post.
Everyone knew who Arnold Anderson was, and because of that, everyone knew who I was when I came to stay with them.
One of the things that my grandfather would always tell me when he would let me go off on my own, whether it was walking to town, or just out into the woods is this-
“Remember, you are my grandson- that means you better act right because you represent me and our family name”
How many people had similar instruction from your parents or grandparents about guarding the family reputation or name?
We all live in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else either by name, reputation, or through someone else. I’ve only been here for coming up on 3 years, and people I don’t even know wave at me when they drive by, or honk their horn if I’m out for a walk.
That’s a switch from a city. If someone honked their horn at you it was followed by cursing or a one fingered salute. Here people are actually neighborly.
Because of that, even more so then I was in Kenosha, I try to be sensitive to the fact that many people know who I am, and who or what I represent.
I do this because I want to protect the name of Jesus, and the church, and that I reflect on all of you.
The 3rd commandment is largely about our Father God telling us the same thing that my grandpa told me- protect the family name.
The 1st commandment tells you the focus of our worship is to be on Yahweh God alone
The 2nd Commandment tells us to not put anything before our worship of God.
The 3rd Commandment now tells us that HIS very name is sacred, hallowed or held as holy, of infinite worth and value. And that name is to be honored.
Let’s read the text of the commandment
Exodus 2:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
I’ve heard a story from about 20 years ago, when new athletes come into the National Football League, they are given a speech by the NFL commissioner about how their personal conduct affects their jobs. They are told that you are about to have more money then you have ever had. You are going from being relatively unknown to being famous all over the world. Women will throw themselves at you. People will want to get close to you and ride your gravy train and take advantage of you.
All of this will hit you very quickly, and the temptation to believe you are “all that”- the big star player who gets to do whatever he wants is very very tempting.
The NFL Commissioner then pauses, turns around and points to the shield that represents professional football in our country and says, “Guys, you need to protect that shield and what it represents. You are PROFESSIONAL football players.
You need to act like professionals because that shield represents the organization that enables you to live out your dreams, and bringing shame to that shield by you being stupid will not be tolerated in this league.
Protect the shield”
This is the NFL’s version of the 3rd commandment.
That is why the 3rd commandment exists- God is telling us -protect my name. Honor my name. Remember it’s my name that gives you life. It’s my name that enables you to live that life filled with blessing and freedom. Remember it’s my name that protects you and ensures you of your position in heaven.
Protect the name.
That illustration gives us a strong hint of God’s intention and meaning behind the 3rd commandment, but before we get any further, lets look at what the strict interpretation is here in Exodus 20.
We’ll look first at the theology, and then it’s application in our lives
What is the strict interpretation of this commandment
I. Strict Definition- the theology (spiritual attorney)
IF you are to read the scripture that we are studying today in it’s original Hebrew, the best paraphrase for us in 2017 would be- “Do not treat as common, or do not disrespect the name of Yahweh your Elohim”
God’s formal name is Yahweh. Elohim is his title, or designation or description. Elohim is the Hebrew word for God.
Just like Christ isn’t Jesus’ last name- it’s a title or designation meaning Messiah or Anointed one.
So the 3rd commandment is Do not misuse the name of Yahweh your God”
Let’s unpack that a little-
All of us have inside us what I call a spiritual attorney.
Our spiritual attorney loves to find loopholes or technicalities that he can bring up to justify bad behavior in our minds. Our spiritual attorney is a left over from our sinful nature who jumps up when we want to do something that we feel and know is bad, but this attorney tries to find a loophole for us to squeeze into.
Our spiritual attorney in this case would say, “Well, if we follow what the bible strictly says, then just saying something like “OMG” is not taking God’s name in vain, because we didn’t say Yahweh”
Technically he is right. But, if we are going to go with the strict interpretation of scripture, then we have to apply the strict interpretation of scripture throughout the whole bible.
So then, after church this morning all of us will have be submit to stoning. I don’t know who is going to throw the rocks but if we finish the command, it says that God will not hold anyone guiltless who missuses his name.
In the Old Testament law, using God’s name or designation carelessly or as a curse was a capital crime- death by stoning.
Now maybe you have never done that, but I think if you have lived life on this planet, you have probably doing this at some point, particularly if you came to faith in Jesus later in life.
This sin is also called blasphemy, which is a big word for a big crime in God’s eyes- blasphemy is defaming, making small, or insulting a higher being.
And it’s a big enough deal for God to say you cannot commit this sin without having direct consequences.
So that is the theology- the strict biblical truth of what the 3rd commandment means in the bible. Let’s look at it’s practical applications, and how our society treats God’s name.
Because something that is very common in our culture
II. Profaning HIS Name
Using God’s name as a curse.
One of the most common ways people do this is with the phrase “Oh My God!” We’ll shorten it to OMG
Think for a moment what you are saying- you are invoking God’s name and presence to bear witness to whatever you are using this exclamation
OMG, the cat just vomited on the rug
OMG, that person just cut me off in traffic
OMG that person was such a jerk to me
OMG, that was fantastic meal
OMG, that person is great looking
I could continue, but you get the idea. We are dragging God’s name and presence into situations and activities that do not always honor HIM.
Another more profane way links God with the word damn- that is a biblical word that means to literally cast someone or something into hell. We will shorten that to GD for the sake of wanting to still honor God but needing to share this truth.
I heard a person recently say “My GD grandkids are coming over this weekend”
I said, “You don’t love your grandkids?”
He said, I love them and want them to come over…been looking forward to it.
I said, “Do you realize you just began a prayer by invoking God's name, and then prayed that God cast your grandchildren into hell by linking God’s name with the word damn in reference to them”
GD to him was just an added word. He, like most people when they speak, never had thought what that actually means.
What it means is that when you invoke God’s name either formally with Yahweh or informally with His description, that by definition is a prayer.
That’s why there is this prohibition in the bible. We have to be careful what we are calling God’s presence and attention to because we don’t want to mix the holy with the profane. That starts going into the realm of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
That goes with any biblical description of God.
Again, the spiritual lawyer pops up and tries to justify our lack of self-control by being legalistic, but the 3rd commandment has to do with honoring God and HIS name in everything we do and say.
There is also something else that we have to realize- while God the Father’s formal name is indeed Yahweh, Jesus is equally God with the Father, so using Jesus’ name as a curse also violates this commandment.
I think I’m honestly more sensitive to this than I am with OMG or GD.
The bible says there is only one name given under heaven by which men must be saved, and that name is Jesus.
And yet people use it as a curse.
Have you ever wondered about that?
I mean, how many times has a guy hit his thumb with a hammer and yelled “Muhammad curse it”
How many times has a person expressed exasperation by starting a sentence with “OH Gautama Buddha”
But people always seem to want to use the Christian God or the Christian Savior to curse…interesting.
Maybe it’s because there is no power in those other names.
Maybe it’s because by using God or Jesus’ name as a curse they are either intentionally or unintentionally trying to rob those names of their grandeur or and power.
Maybe by reducing the name of God to a curse, and our savior to a pithy way of expressing disgust or exasperation, the devil destroys in our minds the power that exists in calling on them.
That’s why we need to protect the name, not only in our conversation but in how we live our lives.
And that brings us to our next point-
One of the ways that people profane the name of God is when we don’t live in a way that brings honor to our God. This happens when people want the benefits of living in their Father’s house, but none of the responsibility
III. Benefit without living
Too many people treat their relationship with God like a 23-year-old male living at home with his parents. He graduated college, and has a part time job at Burger King. HE doesn’t want to contribute anything to the house, or even help out by cutting the grass.
But he wants the benefits of living at home-
Mom does the laundry
They both pay the bills
Dad does the upkeep.
The son gets to sleep in.
He gets the benefits of living in his father’s house, but wants none of the responsibility that goes with it.
In the church, we call these the pew warmers- those who want to be associated with the church, but do nothing to support it, either through volunteering to help or through giving. Many of these people also live lives that don’t look any different than those of the people around them. In fact, most people would be surprised that they go to church at all.
If that offends you, that’s actually a good thing, because the Word of God is supposed to sting when it hits an issue of rebellion in your heart.
There is a biblical truth that has been lost in the church in recent years, and that is-
When Jesus saved us, HE didn’t just give us a fire insurance policy. HE didn’t just change the grade on our report card, or fudge the transcripts to show God that we are indeed an honor roll student deserving of heaven.
Jesus saved us to give us a new life. With that life comes new priorities, new passions, and a new mission- to spread the Gospel to every corner of the planet.
Don’t just get to wear the jersey of the team you love, You are supposed to be getting on the field and into the game. God’s blessings, presence, and His provision are waiting for you. Don’t miss out on the life and mission that God has planned for since HE created the world.
Another way we can misuse the name of God is by
IV. Invoking HIS name
Have you ever watched a newly elected politician get sworn into office? What do they usually put on their left hand on? Usually their spouse is there holding it beaming with pride at their accomplishment.
A bible, or a torah, or Koran. Some book that is supposed to represent their God and faith.
Now not to be cynical, but how many of them actually carry the precepts found in those books into office?
Have you ever wanted to write a politician and remind them that they swore their oath with a hand on the bible, and then call them on supporting something like abortion?
Personally I think they should put their hand over their own heart instead of trying to increase their credibility by decreasing God’s credibility. At least then God’s word isn’t violated by their actions in office.
How about a court of law? In some precincts, they still have you place a hand on the bible and swear an oath that ends with “So Help ME God” before they give their testimony to the court.
How many of those people stretch truth, omit, or just outright lie in court?
We see this in our day to day lives. When a person is trying to convince you of the veracity of their words, they say something like this-
“I swear to…”
“As God is my….”
“Swear on a stack of….”
What are they doing? By invoking God- who is the standard of truth and holiness, they are trying to increase their credibility.
And that brings us to the big idea to the invoking of God’s name-
Never, ever try to increase your credibility at the expense of God’s. That is the central point of the 3rd commandment.
IF you bring God into it, then it better be something that you’d feel comfortable presenting to Him Face to face.
Those are just a couple of ways people in our world misuse God’s name, now lets look at how we honor God’s name.
V. Honoring His name
Two ways we honor God’s Name, and that is through our words and our actions.
Use appropriate speech. Appropriate speech means that if you wouldn’t say it in front of God, Jesus, or your grandmother, don’t say it.
Jesus’ little brother James has this to say about how we speak-
James 3:9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
To paraphrase what James is saying here, and bringing it down to where we live-
“If you call yourself a Christian, then you have died to your old nature. Therefore, your speech should reflect your new nature. Your new nature is my brother Jesus’ nature”
This is a matter of a lifetime of self-discipline, but how you speak really tells people what you actually believe.
I’ve found this 2 scriptures helpful in my life. About 1000 years before James wrote, Solomon wrote this
The first one I should pray about ten times a day-
When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
Ecc 5:2 Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
Let me just ask you a series of questions that probe into whether you honor God’s name in your daily life:
Your last 5 interactions with people yesterday outside of your home-
Would they be able to tell you are a Christian?
If we looked at what you watched on TV or internet
Would we be able to tell you are a Christian?
If we listened to the music you listen to
Would we be able to tell you are a Christian?
Honoring God’s name- the God who gave up everything for us means this- Everything in our lives should reflect who we worship.
I’m going to end today with a quick story-
There was a story of a woman who was late for work and speeding and passing people on the road, usually with a few choice words yelled out the window when she passed them. Suddenly she saw flashing lights in her rearview mirror, and she pulled over. The Police officer opened his door, took cover behind it, and pulled his pistol and told her to exit the car, walk backward toward him where he then handcuffed the woman and put her in the back of the squad car. After a while, the police officer came to speak to her and she asked what on earth she had done to warrant such response from the officer.
He said, “Well ma’am, I saw you speeding and passing people and was going to do just a traffic stop for those violations. But then I heard the language coming out of your mouth after reading your bumper sticker which says, “My husband is a pastor” with the Christian fish in your back window, I assumed the car was stolen and initiated a felony stop.”
I ask you- does God need to initiate a felony stop with you today?
Do your words and deeds match up with the character of God.
They need to, because this 3rd Commandment is all about protecting HIS name.