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The Third Commandment - Part 1: The Importance of Names

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The Third Commandment - Part 1

The Importance of Names

MP3 Audio (77 MB)


The Third Commandment - Part 1: The Importance of Names

MP3 Audio (77 MB)

This starts a series dealing with the third commandment. We get a general background of names and the importance of a name. We look at people whom God specifically named for the purpose prophecy, and even future name changes.


The Third Commandment – Part 1 by Craig Clark, Freeland Michigan, 3-5-22

Exodus 20:7 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.

How often do we really think about what the third commandment says?

I would guess that most of us have not really looked at this commandment, in a while.

And what we know pretty much what it says. And so it's not something that we look at all that often. Although someone not too long ago did mention that they had heard a sermon that talked about it recently. They then said something about all of the words that people use, that are really euphemisms for God's name. And that we do need to be careful, the way we talk and the things that we say.

When you think about it, taking the name of the Lord in vain. That is probably the thing that comes to mind most readily. You might also think about swearing in general. And that could be swear words or curse words, but also not using God's name in any kind of an oath. Right? So swearing in a trial or in an office, for example.

I remember hearing messages about both of those things in my childhood. But is that all there is to this? Well, that's what we're going to start to explore today. And I will say start because my intention was to get somewhere that we're not going to get close to yet, today. Because there is a lot more to it, than we sometimes think. So I guess this is the third commandment part one. And I don't know yet when part two will be because I think the next time I speak we'll be getting into the spring holy days are very shortly before.

But to get started with today, I wanted to look at some different translations of this verse, Exodus 20, verse seven. So, I'm going to read 15 different translations. So, I'll just go through them fairly quickly.

Here, King James Bible, thou shall not take the Lord thy God in vain. Or the name of the Lord that God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.

The New International Version, you shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. For the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

The New Living Translation, you must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

The Berean Study Bible says this, You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain for the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished, who takes His name in vain.

The Amplified Bible, You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. That is your irreverently in false affirmations or in ways that impugn the character of God. But the Lord will not hold guiltless nor leave unpunished the one who takes His name in vain, discarding its reverence and its power.

The American Standard Version, 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.

The Aramaic Bible in plain English, You shall not swear in the name of the Lord Jehovah your God with a lie, because Lord Jehovah does not declare him innocent, who swears in his name with a lie.

The Brenton Septuagint translation, thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain for the Lord thy God will not acquit him that takes His name in vain.

The Contemporary English Version, Do not misuse my name. I am the Lord your God. And I will punish anyone who misuses my name.

The Literal Standard Version, you do not take up the name of the of your god YHWH for a vain thing for YHWH does not acquit him who takes up his name for a vain thing.

The New American Bible, You shall not invoke the name of the Lord your God in vain. For the Lord will not leave and punish anyone who invokes his name in vain.

The New Revised Standard, You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God. For the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

The World English Bible, You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

And then the Young's Literal translations says, Thou does not take up the name of Jehovah thy God for a vain thing for Jehovah acquittith not him who taketh up his name for a vain thing.

I know after a while, they all kind of sound the same. And I actually looked at over 30 different translations or versions. And cut it down to these because the others were really exactly the same or nearly exactly the same. I mean, it's almost identical to what I read in one way or another. And then, even with some of the differences, right, most of these are very similar. For the most part, they either say something like, You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain or do not misuse my name.

And then, of course, there are a few, I guess what you might call outliers that are a little bit different.

The Good News Translation says Do not use my name for evil purposes.

And then American Bible says You shall not invoke the name of the Lord your God in vain. Essentially, really, though, the same as the others.

And then there are two other translations that I would say are different, the literal standard version and Young's Literal Translation use instead of take, and that is a bit different. And we're going to get to that later. So, I was going to get there today, but we're not going to make it there yet. So, but we will talk a little bit about that. And why I do say that that's a bit different. But for now, let's focus a bit on misusing God's name, or taking the name of the Lord, our God in vain.

In order to do that, I think it's important. Well, really to understand how important a name is. In the New King James Version of the Bible, the word NAME is found over 150 times. Not really surprising property, there are names of people names of places and names of things. Let's take a look at a few. Well, not really places, but we're going to look at a few passages where we read about names and we're going to focus more on names of people than anything else.

So let's go to Genesis chapter two, and might as well start more or less at the beginning.

We're going start reading in  Gen 2:15. But as a side note, and you're turning there, no name has actually been given to Adam.  At this point, in chapter one where a man is created, He is only referred to as a man or the man or, but not as Adam.  And that's true for the first few verses that we're going to read here. So we're going to start, as I said, Genesis 2:15, "Then the Lord God , took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man saying, Of every tree of the garden, who may freely eat, but if the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, or in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die. And the Lord God said, it is not good, that man should be alone, I will make him a helper, comparable to him.

As I said, there is the reference to man to this point. And man is "Ish" in Hebrew. Gen 2:19, "Out of the ground, the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam, to see what he would call it."

So this is the first time that we see his name mentioned.

Again, Adam, by the way, means son of the red earth. So, man came from the dust of the ground. His name refers to red or son of the red earth.

"And then it says, and whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name."

So name is shêm. Shêm, with one of those funny things about the E, I think.

Shêm means a mark or memorial of individuality, by implication, honor, authority, character, fame, name, renowned report. That all comes from Strong's.

Gen 2: 20. It goes on to say "So Adam, gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him." So, He's not really finished, yet.

Gen 2:21 "And the Lord God caused the deep sleep to call on Adam and he slept. And he took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place, than the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, he made into a woman. And he brought her to the man. 2:23. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man."

Now remember what was said in verse, verse 19, whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So here he names the female of the species- humankind- woman or "Isha".

Man is "Ish", woman came out of man is "Isha". But we don't see an individual name for her here. We find that in the next chapter, in Genesis 3:20, so we'll go there next.

And here it says, "And Adam called his wife's name, Eve, because she was the mother of all living."

And Eve, is the word "haba". Life, or living, or life giver. So, mother of all living life giver.

Let's look at a few other individuals whose names show us that names matter. So, let's go to Genesis 17 next. I know most of these will be pretty familiar to us. Genesis chapter 17 talks about Abram - Abraham, Sarai-Sarah, right. So, this time what we're looking at though, is a change in names Abram became Abraham and Sarai becomes Sarah.

We're going to start in Gen 17:1 And talk about Abram -Abraham first. So, Genesis 17:1

"When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, I am Almighty God walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly. Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, As for me, Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations, I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you and kings shall come from you.

So Abram, means high or exalted father, but Abraham means father of a great multitude.

Let's continue here Gen 17:15. says, "Then, God said to Abraham, as for Sarai, your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai. But Sarah, shall be her name. And I will bless her, and also give you a son by her, then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations, Kings of peoples shall be from her."

Now this one's not quite, as I guess, straightforward or easy to understand. Depending on the source. Sarai can mean princely or princess. Most sources indicate that Sarah means princess. However, Brown, Driver and Brigg {commentary} says that it is noble woman. And then Strong's also indicates a female noble lady, a princess or queen. Adam Clark indicates that the difference may be that Sarai is more specific to the rank within a family, while Sarah indicates a broader perspective, for her rank overall. And that seems to be consistent with what God says that He will make nations of you and kings shall come from you.

There is one more thing that we need to look at here. And that is the name of Isaac. So again, let's continue reading this time reading. Gen 3:17, "Then Abraham fell on his plate, fell on his face and laugh. And said, in his heart, shall a child be born to a man who is 100 years old? And shall Sarah who is 90 years old, bear a child. And Abraham said to God, oh, that Ishmael might live before you. Then God said, No, Sarah, your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant and with his descendants after him."

So here is one of the few times really in the Bible that we see that God gave the name to a child or to the parents, for them to name their child by that name .

They were born. And Isaac means laughter.  Does God have a sense of humor? I think so.

Now I just mentioned that there were a few people that God gave names to before they were even born. The first, as far as I know, is found, I guess unless you consider Adam, which doesn't say specifically where the name came from or anything. But anyway, other than that, the first one that I'm aware of is found in the previous chapter in Genesis 16.  In chapter 16, we read about, you know and God really pronouncing that

Abraham, that header Abram is going to have a child and that will be coming mighty nation and those things and so, right, Sarai -Sarah, and Abram-Abraham decided to take it into their own hands and give Hagar to Abraham to bear their child, Hagar becomes pregnant, and there are problems that come about because of that, which is not really a surprise, is it? So, Hagar runs away after being afflicted, and God sends His angel to her in verse 11. So, Genesis 16:11 and it says, And the angel of the Lord said to her, behold, you are with child, and you shall bear as Son, you shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction. And Ishmael, means: God shall hear. So God heard her in her affliction, and then told her to go back, right? So, she goes back and Ishmael is born.

There's another one that we find in 1 Chronicles 22. And this one is, is kind of interesting. Because when we first hear of this individual and his name, it's not clear that God had provided that name to him. But in 1 Chronicles 22, which is much later than his birth, it does indicate that so we're going to look at this and this, this is dealing with David and Solomon

So, we're not going to go into the beginnings of that fact. But what this is in 1 Chronicles 22, is toward the end of David reign, when he calls Solomon and tells him what he wants him to do. So, we're going to start in verse six, 1 Chronicles 22:6-11.

"He, {David}, called for his son, Solomon, and charged him to build a house for the Lord God of Israel. And David said to Solomon, my son, as for me, it was in my mind to build a house to the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me saying, you have shed much blood and have made great wars, you shall not build a house for my name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies all around, his name shall be Solomon, for I will give peace and quietness to Israel in his day, he shall build a house for my name, and he shall be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever."

So, then David goes on says, "Now my son, may the Lord be with you, and may you you prosper and build the house of the LORD your God as he has said to me."

So, Solomon's name does mean peaceable. So, it fits in with what God was telling David about his son reigning over the kingdom in peace.

Let's turn to Isaiah chapter eight next. This one I have to sa,y before I started looking into all this, I did not remember. But there are some unusual circumstances around some of the names. We're going to get into some more of those in just a minute. But like I said, Isaiah 8 this is one that I had forgotten about. We're going to read the Isaiah 8:1-4, here. So this is Isaiah writing. "Moreover, the Lord said to me, take a large scroll and write on it with a man's pen concerning Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. And I will take for myself faithful witnesses to record Uriah the priest and Zechariah, the son of Jeberechiah. Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, call his name Maher-Salal-Hash-Baz, for before the child shall have knowledge to cry  'my father and my mother', the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be taken away before the king of Assyria."

 So here as part of a prophecy, God tells Isaiah, to name his son Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. Right? And the whole prophecy is that. The riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be taken away before the kingdom of Assyria. So Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz means something to the effect of "to speak to the spoil, he hastens the prey".

So, right, it's part of that prophecy. So, I'm {God} naming this son. And before he is grown enough to talk to his mother and father, these things are going to take place.

Aren't you glad God's not naming your kids? Well, I don't know. But it gets worse. Because next we're going to go look at Hosea. Right? Here's one of the most interesting situations that we find. Because Hosea is also given the names of his children, not just once, not twice, but three times. And there's more.

So, Hosea 1:2 "When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, go take yourself a wife of harlotry, and children of harlotry. For the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord." 

That would be a tough one, wouldn't it?

Hosea 1:3 "So he went into Gomer, the daughter of Dablam. And she conceived and bore him his son. Then the Lord said to him, call his name Jezreel. For in a little while, I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu and bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. It shall come to pass in that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel".

So, this is really about the same time that Isaiah is given the name for his son, in that same general time-frame, just before Israel is taken into captivity, and Jezreel means God sows.

So there's really a lot going on here. I don't think we really need to get into all of that. But in some ways, Jehu and his family is reaping what they've sown. I guess then the whole of the nation of Israel in that way because right, they've committed great harlotry it said and so they're going into captivity.

Okay, let's continue Hosea 1:6. And then it says, "And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him, call her name, Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, but I will utterly take them away. Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the Lord their God and will not save them by the bow, nor by the sword or battle by horses or horsemen.

 So Lo-Ruhamah means "no mercy",  or "not pity". So again, directly related to the prophecy that He is giving through Hosea.

 Hosea 1:8, "Now when she had weaned Lo, Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son, then God said, call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people. And I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered, And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, You are not my people, there it shall be said of them, you are the sons of the living God."

 Lo-Ammi means not my people. So again, directly related to the prophecy that has been given.  It's difficult sometimes to be a follower of God, isn't it? In who knows what sorts of ways that people experience that. There are a couple of other instances where God does give names of children before they are born, to have them that we're not really going to spend a lot of time on because I think we understand the circumstances of those. One of them is in Luke 1, verse 13, where it says, But the angel said to him, Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son. And you shall call his name John. As we go further into the Bible studies, the Gospels class, there was one class that he {Scott Ashely} spent quite a bit of time on this whole circumstance; Elizabeth's pregnancy and the birth of John and everything, so we'll see more of that in a month or so. But it's interesting. The other one is Matthew 1:21 where it says that "she will bring forth the son, and you shall call his name Jesus", for he will save His people from their sins." So, I think we're all pretty familiar with that one, as well. So, we're not going to really spend any time on it.

I do want to go back to Genesis, again. Genesis 32 This time, because there is one more instance that we want to talk about. This one is also a change in names. And again, you'll be very familiar with it. I think it shows some different things if we go back further, but what I really want to focus on here is in Genesis 32:24-28, where it talks about the change in the name, but we'll mention a little bit more as we go along.

So Genesis 32, 24-28  "then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when he saw that he did not prevail against him. He touched the socket of his hip, and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as he wrestled with him. And he said, let me go for the day breaks. But he said, I will not let you go unless you bless me. So he said to him, What is your name? He said, Jacob. And he said, Your Name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed."  

So, Jacob, is "heel catcher", or "supplanter".  If you go back to when he was named, the reason he was named that is because he grabbed a hold of his brother's heel right when he was born. So, I always find it interesting when you're reading through the scriptures. That names mean something. I mean, an awful lot of names. There's a reason that they were named what they were, I mean, go through all of Jacob's children. And there's reasons that they named the children what they did. But here God changes it from heel catcher or supplanter, to God prevails. {Or "he rules as God"}

And that name continues today, right? I mean, even we are part of Israel today. Which  ells us an awful lot to consider the name that God provided. Which brings us to the fact that names mean something. They are important.  I would like to look at a few scriptures in in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes that, tell us that names are important, and they matter. So we're going to start in Proverbs 10. And read seven. There's a few other verses not too many that we'll look at. I'll say up front that sometimes, anmes are not always positive. I mean, we've seen some of that. Sometimes they are, sometimes they're not. So let's start with Proverbs. Proverbs 10:7 says, "the memory of the righteous is blessed."  So how do we remember somebody generally? We remember their name.  So "the memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot".

I think you can say, they will be known by their names. I think we understand that; we see that. Go to Proverbs 21 next. Proverbs 21:24 goes along with this. It says here "a proud and haughty man, Scoffer is his name." He acts with arrogant pride. We do call people by nicknames, sometimes, right? We call them by their attributes. They're known by their attributes in many cases. And I know that happens in some families more than others. My family really didn't have a lot of nicknames. But when I came back to Michigan, the first time I met a lot of Jana's family, it's like, I have no idea who these people are, they're talking about because some of them had two or three names, until I met Uncle John, "Big Head". But I understand that one, I mean, it was obvious. So, some of the others not so much, but generally speaking, people are known, at least they're known by their nicknames. What people call them is because of some of their attributes.

Let's go over to Proverbs chapter 22:1 It says "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches. Loving favor rather than silver and gold."  Names matter. A good name is important.

 Ecclesiastes 7:1 says the same thing. It tells us that "A good name is important. It says a good name is better than precious ointment and the day of death than the day of one's birth."

You know, it's more than just an individual sometimes as well. Members of a family might be known or thought of in a certain way because of the family name. And again, that can be good or bad. out in California, I knew a man by the name of Gary Hatfield. The Hatfield's and McCoy's. And he was part of the family. I also know a guy by the name of Bill McCoy. And I think he has a connection there too, if I remember right.

I would say that affected me growing up. I was a Clark and there were expectations based on who my parents were. The same thing could be said about Jana's family. You all know the Ledy name. And there are sometimes expectations because of the families that we're part of and the names that we have. So, in that respect, we can either uphold the family name, or we can destroy the family name. And I think that becomes important as we think about the third commandment.

We'll get more into that next time. So, I think names are important, aren't they?

So I want to look at one more thing fairly briefly. Before we end today. And we're going to start back in Isaiah 62 because back here in Isaiah, in the midst of the prophecies about the destruction of Israel, and eventually Judah, God promises a change of names. Okay, because at the time these prophecies were given, the name of Israel was not too good. Let's read a few verses here. Isaiah 62:1 says, "For Zion's sake, I will not hold my peace. And for Jerusalem's sake, I will not rest until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns."

That is not the reputation that Israel and Jerusalem had at that time.

Isa 62:2-5 "The Gentiles will see your righteousness and all kings your glory, you shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hands of the Lord and a royal diadem in the hand of your God, You shall no longer be termed forsaken."

They were going to be taken into captivity, because God for them, is what it all looked like.

"Nor shall your land anymore be termed desolate. But you shall be called have Hephzibah, and your land Beulah, for the Lord delights in you and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you. And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

" And Hephzibah means "My delight is in her".  So, they've gone from when we read the prophecy in Hosea "you are not my people, to "My delight is in her".  A new name. And Beulah, to marry, possess or own.

We too are promised a new name. We read about that in Revelation. We're going to read a couple of passages in Revelation, Revelation 2:17. And then Revelation 3:12-13.

Names are important. God wants to call us by who we are. By the attributes He wants us to have.

Revelation 2:17 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna to eat, and I will give him a white stone and on the stone, a new name, written which no one knows except Him who receives it.

God knows us and will name us for the person that we are and He knows.

Revelation 3:12-13. "He who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and He shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and I will write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

We're going to stop here for now. But I think it's clear from what we've seen that names matter. Names matter to God. And if our names and the names of individuals in the scriptures mean that much, how much does God's name mean? How important is it to God that we treat his name with respect? I think it's pretty important.

We'll talk a little bit more about that next time.