The name of the LORD

Q. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it?

A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments; are, besides God’s sovereignty over us, and propriety in us, his fervent zeal for his own worship, and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom; accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations.

Q. Which is the third commandment?

A. The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Q. What is required in the third commandment?

A. The third commandment requires, That the name of God, his titles, attributes, ordinances, the Word, sacraments, prayer, oaths, vows, lots, his works, and whatsoever else there is whereby he makes himself known, be holily and reverently used in thought, meditation, word, and writing; by an holy profession, and answerable conversation, to the glory of God, and the good of ourselves, and others.

(Questions CX, CXI and CXII of the Westminster Larger Catechism.)

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2 Responses to The name of the LORD

  1. David Legg says:

    Correct translation of Exo 20:7 is
    “You shall not bear the name of the LORD your God falsely”
    not
    20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

    The Hebrew word for bear does not mean use, speak or misuse; it means to bear or carry.

    So the meaning is like in Numbers 6:
    6:23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
    6:24 “‘ “The LORD bless you and keep you;
    6:25 the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
    6:26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”‘
    6:27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

    God’s people are those who bear his Name.

    The modern name for God’s people = ‘Christian’.
    Jesus said in John 14:14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
    So, if we are praying in Jesus’ name, we are bearing his name.

    Therefore, everything we do must reflect his holy character.
    This includes the traditional meaning of the commandment, of not using God’s name in conversation casually or blasphemously.
    But that is only a small part of the commandment.

    The commandment means then, that we must not bear the name of Christian in any way that will bring shame on our God.
    We must not call ourselves Christians casually, but must mean it with all our hearts, and live it out.

    Therefore everything we say, everything we do, every decision we take in a church meeting must be done with the thought in very forefront of our minds that the name of our God is upon us, and that what we do and say can either glorify him or shame him.

    See Graeme Goldsworthy, ‘Prayer and the Knowledge of God’, IVP, 2003.

  2. gerald says:

    I think the answer formulated by the Westminster divines pretty much says the same thing. 🙂

    Basically, God’s name is to be revered by a holy profession. Very challenging!

    It’s a pity a lot of English bible translations don’t make this as clear.

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