Summary: Taking God’s name in vain is more than just using or avoiding certain words in your language. It starts there, but it includes your actions too.

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June 25, 2000 Exodus 20:7

“What’s in a name?”


Last Saturday, Tammy, Victoria, Ben, Erica and I decided to go on a picnic together up at Prickett’s Fort State Park. It was the first time that we had been there except just to drive through it one time last year. As we went into the different buildings in the fort, we discovered many interesting details about the history of WV. We were told that there were many such forts as that one located in the park. When Indians or some other enemy was attacking, the people would escape inside the walls of the fort for protection. Prickett’s Fort received its name from the family that owned the land – the Pricketts. I suppose that the nice thing about that is that as long as the fort is around, everyone will remember the family name. We also learned that Nutter Fort was named that because the Nutter family had a fort much like the one the Pricketts had. The fort is gone, but the city still bears the family name. I wonder though how many people actually think about the family – the Nutters – when they drive through or talk about Nutter Fort. The significance of the name and where it came from probably never crosses their mind. According to the listings in the phone book, there are still a lot of Nutters around, but as far as I can tell, there is only one Nutter family that still lives in Nutter Fort. Probably most of them don’t even think about the significance of their family name and the name of the city that wears their family name.

As we continued our tour of Prickett’s Fort, we went into the home that used to be occupied by Job Prickett. The tour guide there told us that there was going to be a free production of Romeo and Juliet in the park amphitheater that night at 8:00. So we decided to come back that evening to watch it. Probably the most famous scene in that play by William Shakespeare is the balcony scene. Juliet is bemoaning the fact that the man that she loves, Romeo, has the wrong last name. He is a Capulet, and Juliet is a Montague. That’s a real problem since the Capulets and Montague’s were enemies. Juliet’s father would have never allowed a relationship between the two lovers. As she thinks about all this, wishing that her beloved would have any last name but Capulet, Juliet says these words: “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.”

So far in our study of the Ten Commandments, we have dealt with the first two. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” & “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image [or idol]”. The first asks the question, “Who is going to be the master of your life?” The second asks, “How big is your picture of God?” This morning, we are going to deal with the third commandment – “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” or “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord thy God”. This command and our study of it should cause us to ask ourselves the question, “How much respect do I have for God and His name?” and “What am I doing to bring honor or dishonor on that name?”

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