In Part 1 of this series, we looked at an introduction to the Decalogue (or, the 10 commandments).
In Part 2, we delved deep into the first and second commandment: what it really means, why has it been given, and how we can keep it.
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.
This is arguably the commandment we all disobey the most — probably because we take it very lightly. Do we really understand how serious an offence this is before God?
The word ‘vain’, in this commandment, means empty — worthless, or to no good purpose. In the Old Testament, when people used God’s name in vain, they were stoned to death (Leviticus 24:16).
The implication is plain and clear: violating the third commandment is not at all a small thing before God. He takes it very seriously.
The implication is plain and clear: violating the third commandment is not at all a small thing before God
Kevin DeYoung puts it like this: “The way to see God’s glory is to hear His name. To know the name YHWH, the merciful and gracious one, is not to merely know something about God; it is to know God Himself.”
a. Don’t use God’s name carelessly.
One of the ways we do this is in our normal conversations with friends or family. We say things like, “Oh God, what happened to you? or “Oh my God, did you hear about that?” In one sense, it’s just us getting excited for a moment — nothing more. But regardless of our reasons, this commandment holds. Every time we use God’s name in vain, it is wrong.
Sometimes, we also use God’s name falsely and speak on God’s behalf (Jeremiah 23:25). We say things like, “Recently, God told me this,” or “I saw a vision where God said this,” when such a thing never happened.
Sometimes, we pray to God for the sake of it. Think of the instances where we’ve had the most delicious food kept in front of us and someone asks you to say grace. We oblige, but even as we thank God, all we could think of was the food — not the Provider. This is also one way we take the name of the Lord in vain.
We take God’s name in vain because we don’t take God seriously
b. Use God’s name to worship Him.
Scripture is full of examples of reverence and worship when God’s name is used (Psalm 8:1, 29:2; Philippians 2:10-11).
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
The commandment starts with the word, ‘remember’, i.e., the Sabbath was not called into existence at Mt. Sinai. The Israelites were called to remember what already was in existence. But what are they called to remember? They are called to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. How? By resting on the Sabbath day as the Lord rested.
We live in a day and age where the ready response to the question, “How was your week?” is, “Busy”. We are all busy with life — with work, education, and a lot more. God has provided a solution — a balance — for this.
Rest, He says, so you can rejoice. Even before time, God had created a style/rhythm in which we can live our day-to-day lives. Our governments did not come up with the Sabbath. God did.
Even before time, God had created a style/rhythm in which we can live our day-to-day lives. Rest, so you can rejoice, He says
Firstly, let’s be clear: God is not telling us to stop working here. Our God is a working God (Psalm 121:3-4). Essentially, what God is telling us here is that, while work is great, rest is important too. We need time to pause and reflect. Not just on all we’ve done but what God has done through us.
When we remember what God has done, we don’t stop with reflection, we respond in worship. When we learn to rest in God, we learn to rejoice in God. Keeping the Sabbath is not just an absence of work, rather it leads us to worship the only God.
Secondly, this commandment does not teach that we work six days of the week and worship God only on the Sabbath day. We are called to worship God every day of our lives. What this commandment demands is that we cease work and completely rest — and that will help devote our minds to God better.
If we never cease from our works, we will fail to rest in Christ
a. When you have your day off:
b. Few questions to consider by Kevin DeYoung:
A weekly brief of new resources and Scripture-based insights from our editorial team.