Last week I heard a short sermon on the third of the Ten Commandments which really started me thinking. How does anyone take the LORD’s name in vain? What is God concerned about in this commandment?
Unbelievers today may use the name of God or Jesus to express strong emotions such as alarm, anger or surprise, but have you ever wondered why? Some people write OMG (short for ‘Oh my God!’) on Facebook etc, meaning ‘I’m so excited and thrilled I don’t know how to express it in words’. So, in a world which seems to be making no acknowledgement that God exists, His name gets mentioned quite frequently. Even a famous atheist made the mistake of saying ‘oh my God!’ when he realised he’d made a silly mistake in a public debate on TV.
But the meaning of the commandment made sense to me the other day when I looked in a book about Reiki that I found on display in a shop. Here was a man writing an invocation calling on the universal life force energy to come through Christ, and to send guides, angels and Reiki masters to protect him. The final words declared that he himself was the love, light and healing power of God and three times he repeated the words ‘I am’.
So God must have known that people would use His name to call on supernatural powers that were nothing to do with Him. He must have known that His name would be used to deceive others. Jesus warned us that some would falsely claim to be Messiah and even His followers had to be careful about who they listened to.
God revealed to Moses that His name and His presence were so holy that Moses had to remove the shoes that touched the ground in that place. His name is ‘I am’. And when Jesus walked on the earth He also used those words about Himself. For this He was sentenced to death on the charge of blasphemy, making Himself equal to God.
I’m so glad Jesus taught us, as His disciples, how to pray. We are to confidently call on God as our Father, knowing He is far beyond our capacity to understand His ways. We are to worship His holy name, to reverence it and hold it sacred. ‘Hallowed be Thy name’ are the old English words from the earliest translations of the Bible. The very little children at church still say this off by heart - in the twenty first century. I suppose no-one wants to change these words in any way. They are handed down orally and not learned from a book.
Prayer: Our Father, we pray that we may always remember to honour Your holy name and never use it for wrong purposes to bring power or deceive others in any way. We pray that Your purposes will be made clear to us. Thank You for loving us and speaking to us of Your ways. Amen.
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