Ex. 20:7—“You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name” (NLT).
Just for the fun of it, I’ve been reading the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Covenant. I’ve been in Exodus the past few days, zooming right along and having a good time, right up until I got to Ex. 20:7, the third of the Ten Commandments. This one stopped me in my tracks. Like many of us, I’ve memorized this verse from the King James Version, which says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.” This commandment extends the idea of the second commandment, for just as God forbids us to show disrespect to Him by making a god out of something that is not God, it is also a disgrace to use His Name without a legitimate or valid reason.
Until now, I’ve mostly thought of taking the Lord’s name in vain as cursing. When I was barely a teenager, I’d often get frustrated and say, “Jeee-sus Chrii-st,” as if it was His fault I wasn’t getting my way. My dad heard me say that once and he shot me a look that has stayed with me for 35 years, and I’ve (mostly) succeeded in not saying it again.
Other times, I’ve heard people vainly use His name to express surprise or disappointment, or even fill in the gaps in prayer. This last one I find especially irritating. When I’m speaking to someone, I don’t find it necessary to use their name seventeen times in a sentence, so why would I repeatedly use God’s name when I’m praying in public? For instance, how many times have you heard a prayer like this: “Dear God, we come to you Father God and ask you God that you Father God would hear our prayers, Father God, for God you are a God who heals, Father God, and God…” That type of prayer DRIVES ME NUTS! First, God already knows you’re talking to Him, so you don’t have to try to get His attention by droning His name on and on. Second, I see no legitimate or valid reason to repeat God’s name because one has nothing better to say. Continue Reading