“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

I remain slightly bemused by the widespread use of blasphemy: that people who don’t know God, or Jesus, and maybe don’t want to know Him, regularly take His Name upon their lips. But maybe by doing it in this slightly vitriolic way, they are distancing themselves from Him and pushing Him away (even though some may say they are atheists or agnostic!). Nowadays we have the divine name insulted and trivialised AS a common blasphemous expression is reduced to three letters: ‘OMG’.

One day I went to visit a family member in an EU country. It took effort and cost money to get there, but we really wanted to see him. We hadn’t been in his car for much more than five minutes when he horribly and violently misused the Name of Jesus. What was that about? He knew he had a Christian minister in His car, and his sister who loved Jesus, and a young child. Was it some sort of defence mechanism; or a deep subterranean demonic eruption from within; or…?? You tell me. I don’t really know. But I find it’s not unusual for people to break the third commandment in my company. I hate it, but it happens. It almost feels like evidence For God’s existence – in some odd, convoluted fashion.

The Lord’s Name stands for all that He is; all that He has revealed Himself to be. To misuse His Name is to insult Him personally. Traditionally, we knew this as ‘taking the Lord’s Name in vain.’ Even little children I went to school with knew you shouldn’t do it! It literally means ‘lift up the name…to emptiness.’

‘The most obvious meaning of ‘lifting up the name’ is an abbreviation of ‘lift up upon one’s lips.’ The use of the name ‘God’ or the name of Jesus or the title ‘Christ’ as an expletive would certainly fall within this condemnation and, on a more serious level, so would the giving of one’s loyalty to, or taking one’s oath by, a false god – though this…would be an extension of the primary meaning.’ Alec Motyer: ‘The message of Exodus’, p.224.

Motyer goes on to point out that the sanction attached to this commandment is all the more scary for being left vague: “…for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

‘The implication is that the Lord’s name is intensely precious to him. It is he who notes its misuse and who matches the the punishment to the crime in each and every case’ (p.225).

PRAYER: Lord, where would any of us be apart from your mercy. We are all commandment-breakers. We look to you alone for forgiveness. We have no hope apart from you.