Date written: June 30th, 2007
Scripture ref: Exodus 20:1-17
SUBJECT: Ten Commandments
TITLE: The Third Commandment - The Lord's Name
PROPOSITION: In this lesson on the Ten Commandments, we'll look at #3, taking the Lord's name in vain. We will notice the 1) content of the command and 2) the consequence of the command.
Objectives: That each would be familiar with the Ten Commandments so that we can understand them and respect them as they have application under the New Covenant.
1. Read: Exodus 20:1-17
2. About the Text:
1) The background of this text is the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt.
2) They were camped at the base of mount Sinai.
3) And God speaks directly to them from heaven these "ten commandments."
4) They are referred to as such in Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 4:3 and 10:4.
5) These commandments were the basis for the rest of the Mosaic law.
6) They form the nucleus of God's desires for men to live a moral and godly life.
7) God wanted to impress upon Israel the seriousness of these words.
8) And he did so; the children of Israel asked Moses to intercede for them upon hearing God's words.
9) The commandments are introduced with a statement of identification by God.
10) Exodus 20:1-2.
11) The two verses emphasize to us the identity of the one giving the commandments.
12) They are not to be taken lightly.
13) The commands are also in two parts.
a. Love for God
b. Love for man.
3. The then commandments today.
1) Today, we see the ten commandments politicized.
2) They are a symbol to many for morality and righteousness.
3) But do we know what they are and what they mean?
4) Let's take a look at the ten commandments in an effort to understand them and how they apply today.
4. The third commandment.
1) Exodus 20:7 "Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain; for Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."
2) We see two parts to this commandment.
3) There is the content of the command and the consequence of the command.
5. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.
I. The Content of the Command
1. This is the first part of the verse: "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain."
1) The command is prohibitive like the first two.
2) In that regard, for one to do what is prohibited is sinful.
3) Remember the great command, "and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deuteronomy 6:5).
4) To take God's name in vain is to disrespect God instead of love him.
2. The name of God.
1) The reference to God's name here is to the name Yahweh or Jehovah.
2) When Moses asked God what his name was on Mount Sinai.
3) "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." (Exodus 3:14).
4) The name of God, however, goes beyond the mere four letters in the Hebrew alphabet with which God's name is spelled.
5) It is the concept of God, the Great I Am, that we are to respect.
6) In essence invoking God's name, or any word which would refer to God, is the concern of this commandment.
7) More specifically, God's name was often invoked during oath taking and this command in essence states that if one is to use God's name in an oath, he better be prepared to keep it.
8) Numbers 30:2 states, "When a man voweth a vow unto Jehovah, or sweareth an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth."
3. To use God's name in vain is to use it in an empty or meaningless way.
1) The Pharisees and those like them perverted this command to mean not to use God's name, Yahweh, for any reason.
a. They refused to utter God's name even in spiritual contexts.
b. Scribes would obtain new pens to write this word specifically or refrain from writing the full characters.
c. This is why many were upset with Jesus when he said, "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was born, I am."
d. He used God's name here and on top of that claimed to be God.
e. They took this as using God's name vainly and as blaspheming God's name.
f. Leviticus 24:16 says, "And he that blasphemeth the name of Jehovah, he shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the sojourner, as the home-born, when he blasphemeth the name of Jehovah, shall be put to death."
2) Those who refer to God in common speech also take God's name in vain.
a. This, in essence, makes God no more than a common slur.
b. The expression "Oh my God" is one that is used flippantly and without meaning by many.
c. "Oh Lord," "Jesus," "Golly," "Gee," and "Gee Whiz" are all expressions that have their origins with a reference to God.
3) Those who invoke God's name in an oath without intending to follow through take God's name in vain.
a. As we've seen, oaths were taken seriously by God.
b. Leviticus 19:12 "And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, and profane the name of thy God: I am Jehovah."
c. Deuteronomy 23:21-22 "When thou shalt vow a vow unto Jehovah thy God, thou shalt not be slack to pay it: for Jehovah thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee."
d. Psalm 15:4 says that "...He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not" honors Jehovah.
4. Let's also consider some New Testament principles in this regard.
1) Jesus taught clearly that we are not to make oaths.
a. Matthew 5:33 "Again, ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by the heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one."
b. James reiterates: "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath: but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; that ye fall not under judgment" (James 5:12).
2) We also need to keep in mind respect and honor for God at all times.
a. Colossians 4:6 "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one."
b. Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear."
c. And certainly we don't want to blaspheme God's good name (2 Timothy 3:2).
II. Consequences of the Command
1. The consequence of violating this command was that God would not hold one guiltless.
1) That is to say that one who uses God's name in vain is guilty and will be punished.
2) Leviticus 24:10-16 sets forth an example of what happened to those who used God's name in vain by cursing God-READ.
3) For failing to follow through with an oath, one was held guilty and had to present a guilt offering to the Lord.
4) Read Leviticus 5:4-6.
2. Jesus also pronounced consequences upon vain or empty words used. Matthew 12:36-37 "And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
3. This leads us to the concept that the guilty will be punished.
4. We have, however, the opportunity today for forgiveness.
1) Sins can be forgiven through the blood of Christ in baptism (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16).
2) For Christians, sins can be forgiven through confession and prayer to God (1 John 1:9).
1. Let us remember the third command, not to take God's name in vain.
1) The content of that command.
a. Not to make vain oaths.
b. Not to blaspheme God.
c. Not to refer to God disrespectfully.
2) The consequences of violating that command - we will be held guilty.
2. Keil and Delitsch in their commentary write: "The [command] prohibits all employment of the name of God for vain and unworthy objects, and includes not only false swearing, which is condemned in Lev_19:12 as a profanation of the name of Jehovah, but trivial swearing in the ordinary intercourse of life, and every use of the name of God in the service of untruth and lying, for imprecation, witchcraft, or conjuring; whereas the true employment of the name of God is confined to "invocation, prayer, praise, and thanksgiving," which proceeds from a pure, believing heart. The natural heart is very liable to transgress this command, and therefore it is solemnly enforced by the threat, "for Jehovah will not hold him guiltless" (leave him unpunished), etc."