God’s Name and the 3rd Commandment

Most everyone knows the 3rd commandment (3rd – depending on how you count them).

In case, you’re not sure here’s a reminder:

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20)

Pretty important to understand wouldn’t you think if “the LORD” “will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” In order to observe this command it would be necessary to know 2 things “what is the name of God?” and “What exactly it means to “Take His name in vain?”

Let’s look at both of these questions a little closer.

First, What is God’s name? As you may know, God’s name is not God, nor is it LORD. In fact the word LORD is not a translation let a lone a transliteration of the Hebrew for God’s  Name.  The personal name of God is YHWH. Actually YHWH is not exactly His name, YHWH is a transliteration of God’s name from the paleo Hebrew which you can see in the picture to the right. The top graphic shows the paleo Hebrew which is the way the name of God was preserved even in some translations of the Greek Septuagint. The bottom graphic shows God’s Name written in modern Hebrew.

So Exodus 20 actually reads closer to….

You shall not take the name of YHWH your God in vain, for YHWH will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20)

Why is this important? Consider what YHWH told Moses:

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD (YHWH) God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’ (Exodus 3:14-15)

YHWH said “This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations” meaning this is the Name by which He wants to be known and remembered. It is the personal name by which He revealed Himself to Moses and told Moses to use to share the good news about His covenants.

Secondly, the third commandment tells us not to take the name of the LORD in vain. The word “vain” is Strong’s H7723 shav’ and it means the following:

  1. emptiness, vanity, falsehood
    a) emptiness, nothingness, vanity
    b) emptiness of speech, lying
    c) worthlessness (of conduct)

Now consider, that nearly every modern English Bible translator has intentionally removed the name of God, “YHWH” and replaced it with the title LORD. In fact according to the Blue Letter Bible/Strong’s concordance this has happened 6,519 times in the Old Testament alone. Do you think YHWH considers it “vain”by the above definition to replace His personal name from His revelation to mankind with a man made title?

Now also consider how many Christians (maybe even yourself) know and use the personal name of God as He has commanded us?

Jesus said, “I have come in my Father’s Name and you do not receive Me, if another comes in his own name, him you would receive.” (John 5:43).

Jesus also taught His disciples to pray like this:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
…”

Jesus reaffirmed that we are to consider holy and sacred the Name of His Father – that name Jesus was referring to is YHWH (commonly pronounced Yahweh or as the Strong’s transliterates it Yehovah Strong’s H3068) not the title Father.

God’s people are warned in Deuteronomy 4:2 …

Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it. But keep the commands of the LORD (YHWH) your God that I give you.

I hope this study has stirred you to consider the importance YHWH places on His Name and to test it out for yourself.

To aid in your own studies of YHWH’s word I recommend the Blue Letter Bible.

Remember to test everything, cling to what is good, and reject all evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:21

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