The Third Commandment
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Eternal thy God in vain; for the Eternal will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain."
This is one of the most flagrantly and commonly violated of the Ten Commandments of God!
What is more commonplace than one hearing public figures, entertainers, people on the street and one's friends and neighbors freely using the names of God and Jesus Christ in profanity and swearing?
Million of human beings break this commandment by using the name "God" or "Jesus Christ" as an oath.
Why do they do it?
There is a deep-seated psychological reason behind much of the cursing and swearing you hear around you; one element is the constant attempt to reinforce one's rejection of the real power of God; the immediate presence of the Eternal Creator God by deliberately and flagrantly breaking this commandment as if daring God to do anything about it!
How many bawdy and tawdry jokes are there about the Deity? How many "pearly gates" and "St. Peter's" jokes are there? How many Jewish jokes are there about Jesus Christ? In literally scores of bizarre and differing methods, millions of human beings brazenly shatter this commandment of God every single day!
Where, many years ago, it was against the law of the land to use profanity in public places, it is so commonplace today that one may hear motion picture stars and television personalities freely using the name of God and of Jesus Christ in a jocular manner to punctuate their conversations.
The motion pictures are filled with filthy references to the baser appetites of human beings, the well-known "four-letter words found scribbled in graffiti on the walls of rest rooms are now finding their way directly into millions of homes over cable television, and before countless millions of motion picture theaters.
Now it is "no holds barred" - all of this allowed by the Supreme Court of most countries in their failure to invoke antiobscenity laws.
But the Third Commandment goes far deeper than this most obvious and flagrant violation.
As we have already seen, when Moses was called of God, the Eternal Creator said His name was "I AM!" Jesus later referred to Himself as that personality by saying, "Before Abraham was, I AM!" to the Jews.
As you have already seen, this name or title of God carries the sense of immutability, permanence, He who is! But this is only one of the divine names. There are many Hebrew titles or names for God revealed in the Bible.
In the first instance (Genesis 1:1) the word "God" is translated from the Hebrew "Elohim." "El" means "God" in the Hebrew, but the latter portion of the word is a plural ending, as you have already seen, which means more than one!
The Hebrew characters for "the Eternal" (always printed in capital letters as "LORD" in the King James Bible) are YHVH, or YHWH.
Some pronounce His Hebrew name "YAWVEH," while others say it should be pronounced "JEHOVAH," and still others "YAWE." But many other titles and names of God are revealed in the Bible. He is called "YAWVEH-ROPHEKA" in the Hebrew, meaning "God our Healer." He is called "EL-SHADDAI," "YAWEH-NISSI," or "The Lord of Hosts" or "God Our Shield," or "Our Banner."
Unfortunately, the exact pronunciation of "YHWH" has been lost. However, there are various groups who believe they must only pronounce the Hebrew names for God the Father and Jesus Christ (which they insist should be pronounced "YAHSHUAH"), or one is not using the authorized "sacred name."
This is a large subject, and more appropriately belongs in a separate booklet, but suffice it to say that there are many names and titles of God revealed in both the Old and New Testaments of your Bible; that Jesus spoke in at least three languages, and the disciples spoke in many languages on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit inspired them to speak to dozens of different dialects "in their tongues" concerning the "mighty works of God."
The one English expression which more clearly connotes the name of God is probably "the Eternal," or "the Creator God." Jesus, when instructing Christians in how to pray, said when you pray, say "our Father, which art in heaven," Here, Jesus used the Greek word for "Father," showing that if we acknowledge God the Father as our true Lifegiver, the Author and Originator of all things, and our "Father in heaven," we are showing the deep love, respect and awe deserving of our great God in heaven above who gives us every breath we breathe. And what, after all, is in a name?
A name serves to identify the one to whom, or of whom, you are speaking. Ideally, names should convey meaning.
Today, few mothers and fathers name their little children according to some deep meaning. Usually, names are selected even before birth, not uncommonly by thumbing through a book of names and simply selecting something which is phonetically pleasing. Oftentimes, a middle name includes the name of the father or mother, a relative or close friend. However, in most cases the "names" placed on birth certificates are nothing more than a phonetically pleasing sound to the parents, or a name reminiscent of themselves, a close relative or friend.
It was not always so.
When God named Adam, He chose a name which explained what Adam was. Did you know the name "Adam" appropriately means "red clay"? God explained to Adam that he came from the ground, that he was temporal, earthly, and that he possessed only a limited life span. "Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return," said the Eternal.
"Eve" means the mother of all living.
The subject of names in the Bible is a vast one, as well as a fascinating one.
It is very important that we attach names to everything around us, for we must exist in an intelligible environment; one in which we human beings can move about in comfort and familiarity.
You will notice in the opening chapters of Genesis that, when God created the animals, he led them by Adam to see what Adam would name them.
There are many usages of names. Some are "titles," conveying the meaning of ownership, rulership, responsibility or honor, while others are appellatives attached at birth, which should convey the meaning of personality.
Thus, the name "Jesus" (Yashua or Joshua in the Hebrew) was the name of the baby born to Mary, while "Christ" is a title which means "the anointed one."
The name "Christ" is the Greek form of the Hebrew "Messiah."
Jesus Christ referred to Himself as "the Son of God," the "Son of Man" and as the "Master" or "Teacher."
Some of His other names and titles are "Emmanuel" (meaning "God with us") "Savior," "the Word," "the Lamb of God," "the Mediator," "Lord of Lords," "King of Kings," "Prophet, Priest and King" and "Alpha and Omega" (the Beginning and the End).
The names of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son are intended to convey the awesomeness of Their power; Their ever-living state of eternal being; Their character and personalities; Their purpose and will; Their great glory and power; Their total identity and personality.
When ancient Israel was lost in slavery in Egypt, they knew of no ever-living Creator Being who was God. They knew only of the polytheistic heathenism of the Egyptians. When Moses heard the voice of God speak from the burning bush, he said unto God, "Behold when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, the God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, what is His name? what shall I say unto them?
"And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and He said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
"And God said moreover unto Moses, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the Eternal God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is My name forever, and this is My memorial unto all generations" (Exodus 3:13-15).
Later, when God gave Moses charge to go before Pharaoh, He said, "I am the YHWH [Eternal].
"And I appeared unto Abraham, and Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by My name JEHOVAH [YHVH -the translators added the vowels] was I not known to them."
Here is clear biblical proof of several important points:
(l) The Eternal Creator God has many different names.
(2) He concealed His name "YHVH" (JEHOVAH) from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
(3) It is obvious, then, that there are several "authorized" names of God which may be used in addressing the Deity, and not one "sacred" name only.
There are dozens of references concerning God's name in the Psalms, and many other books of the Bible. Again and again we read of praises to God's name, of David, who meditated on the name of God; and of people in distress and trouble who called upon God by name.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth showed that religious people oftentimes profane the name of God by vain repetition.
"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you ,they have their reward.
"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking" (Matthew 6:5-7).
You see, then, that there are two extremes human beings use in breaking the Third Commandment.
The first and most common extreme is that of cursing, using the names and titles of God as a byword, or in profanity. The second is using the names of God for religious purposes; as in orations, sermons or prayer, but using His name too much, which becomes vain repetition!
Even this scripture, by itself, should warn professing Christian people against the kind of prayer which becomes a formal kind of chant or repetitious saying, and which commits the sin of "vain repetition" of God's name!
Then followed the sample prayer of Jesus, misnamed the "Lord's Prayer." (The real "Lord's Prayer" is the prayer Jesus prayed just prior to His crucifixion, and is found in the 17th chapter of John.)
Jesus said, "After this manner therefore pray ye: 'Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name'" (Matthew 6:9).
You probably know the rest of the famous "Lord's prayer." However, you may not have noticed, previously, that Jesus tells us to address God as "our Father," not specifying a certain Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Latin or English name at this point, but using a common appellation which acknowledges God as our FATHER.
Immediately following this statement, Jesus said we should pray "hallowed [most holy, sanctified and to be held in honor is Thy name."
If people understood the mighty power which can be unleashed by the correct, humble, prayerful and faithful use of God's name, they would be astounded!
When Peter and John were used as instruments of God to heal a cripple at the "beautiful gate," Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none: but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk"! (Acts 3:6).
Later, when the crowds gathered in wonderment at this great miracle, Peter denied it was through his own power that the man had been healed and said, ". . . His name through faith in His name hath made this man sound, which you see and know: yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all" Acts 3:16).
It was the prayerful use of the powerful name of Jesus Christ that caused this great miracle.
Repeatedly, Jesus instructed His disciples to command demons to depart in the name of Jesus Christ. It is through and by the authority of this powerful name that people are converted, convicted of sins, baptized in water, and receive the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands!
When we pray, we are commanded to pray "in Jesus' name."
Throughout the New Testament, we see instruction in the awestricken, fearful, cautious, faithful and prayerful use of the name of Jesus Christ!
By breaking the Third Commandment, millions of human beings are not only bringing upon themselves the automatic penalty of death - death by Gehenna fire unless they REPENT of this enormous sin - they are also depriving themselves of the wonderful knowledge of the Eternal God; the knowledge and understanding of His great purpose and plan, and depriving themselves of the fabulous gifts of God's Holy Spirit, including repentance, conversion, the receiving of God's Holy Spirit, and healing.
Again, what would the world be like if the whole world knew only the one true God, never cursed, used His name as a useless "byword," or chanted in endless and vain repetitious prayers the names of God until they became meaningless, but instead spoke of the Eternal Creator in humility, fear, awe, honor and in love?
The whole world would be a very different place, indeed. if mankind KEPT the Third Commandment! Is it harsh? Is it unreasonable, restrictive or "unfair" that the Eternal Creator God who gives you every beat of your heart and every breath of your lungs should command you to speak of Him in reverence - NOT to use His name in vain repetition, but call upon Him in humility and love as your divine Father?
If you are one who has flagrantly or "innocently" been breaking the Third Commandment either by commission or omission, then it is time to repent of breaking this powerful law of God, and start receiving the countless blessings God has in store for you when you keep the Third Commandment!