[CF Devotionals] 2010-02-14 - The Significance of God's Name

The Ten Commandments, Part 14

The Thrid Commandment

God's Name is synonymous with who He is:

The reasons for the need to take the name of God seriously is because the name of God is who He is. The name of the Lord is synonymous with the Lord Himself. The Biblical Illustrator puts it this way: "It (God's name) holds up God in His special character of Yahweh, the covenant-making and covenant-keeping God of His own dear people. 1

In Genesis 4:26, we read, “at that time, men began to call on the name of the Lord."

When men call on God's name, this means they are calling on God. The psalmist says

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High" (Psalm 9:1-2).

Praising God's name is the same thing as praising Him:

I think you can understand how one treats the name of God says something about how one thinks about Him. We live in a society where, while our names may mean something, they really aren't seen as who we are, as was true in the Biblical culture. Because of this, when someone takes the name of the Lord in vai,n they often say, when confronted, they didn't mean anything by it. Isn't that what we see as taking God's name in vain? Remember, we read the definition of vain as having no real value; worthless. To take God's name in vain means to make it worthless. It is, therefore no wonder, that God has commanded against this.

The Jew, again with his tendency to take law beyond its intent, would often not even use the name of God, that is Yahweh. The name of Jehovah came from the lack of use of God's name, which when found in the word, was replaced with Adoni or Lord, and therefore translated incorrectly as Jehovah. Even today, one often finds, in Hebrew translations, the word God written "G-d." The orthodox still will not pronounce the one name of God. Tradition says the name of God was only spoken once a year by the High Priest, on the Day of Atonement. Now while this kind of response was done out of legalism, one can see how important the Israelite considered the name of God, and they didn't want to take any chances of abusing it. It is not inappropriate for us to also consider the name of God equally important.

  1. Exell, Joseph S., The Biblical Illustrator, Exodus, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1975, p. 355.

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