Sunday, March 3, 2019

Do not take the Lord's Name in vain

I have been chewing on the third commandment for a few days.

It seems out-of-place in the Big Ten. Don't have false gods; check. Keep Lord's day holy; check. But why would not using the Lord's name in vain rate with those two?

One part of the puzzle is that we don't know God's name.  When we say "God" we are using a title, not a name. When asked, he gives us a riddle, "I AM who AM."

Even if we KNEW God's name would our vocal cords be able to say (whales, for instance use frequencies we cannot attain) it or would we live long enough to fully utter it. Surely an infinite God is unlikely to have a simple name like "Sam", although I could be wrong.

Nope, I was missing something.

The something I was missing was my mindless substitution of the word "use" for the word "take".

What if the word "take" was in the sense of a bride taking the groom's name? What if "name" is code for becoming part of a family with expectations of a deep reciprocity of duties, responsibilities and privileges?

"Vain" becomes like the use of "Vanity" in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3. Vain means to act for naught, much like the sowing of grain that falls on thin soil or among weeds.

Seen through that lens, "Do not take the Lord's Name in vain" morphs from a prohibition on letting OMG or GD fall out of our mouths to something that matches the magnitude of the first two commandments.

"Do not take the Lord's Name in vain" might be a prohibition against casually discarding the wisdom God has seen fit to give us via the Bible. It might mean to not identify as a member of the Judeo-Christian family if we have little intention to honor the reciprocal relationship and care for our other family members.

Anyway, that is what I have been chewing on the last few days.


  1. I've always wondered if it also ties into not taking his name in vain by worshipping Baal on the sly.

  2. Please feel free.

    If it makes any sense at all then it was a gift to me from the Holy Spirit. Gifts are for sharing.

  3. Appreciate your sharing of this gift. Amazing insight to be considered and applied.

  4. The Gospel readings this past week have focused on what comes OUT of our mouths. What we say influences everyone within earshot. Ever notice the POWER when one utters G.D. it! Yeah power to violate the 3rd commandment.

    My response when I hear that violation is to respond "Your language offends me."

    Usually the speaker is quite contrite after that. If not, and they ask for clarification, my response is "If you ask God to damn something, very likely He will, and you will not like the end result."

    Interesting and worthwhile post, ERJ. Thanks.

  5. I agree. I have always thought of that prohibition of being more than swearing (or false swearing). We are made in the Image of God, especially those of us who claim to be Christians and follow Him. So, to take His name in vain means to act in ways that are unlike His Image, especially when we say we follow Him.
    That is one of the reasons that I don't have any bumper stickers on my car and don't wear Christian T shirts - I don't want my mistakes and sin to reflect badly on Him.


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