The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him—my father’s God, and I will exalt him! The Lord is a warrior; Yahweh is his name! Exodus 15:2-3 (NLT)
“You must not misuse the name of the your God. The will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. Exodus 20:7 (NLT)
Moses stammered at the burning bush over the thought of going back to Egypt. He whined, at least tell me your name; how can I tell them a God with no name sent me? And the voice in the fire spoke it, I AM.
The children of God in Israel still revere that name so highly they approach the use of the name of the Lord with such reverence they won’t even write all of it down. From ancient times they wrote the name without the vowels. “Jehovah” became “J H V H”.
We are accustomed to the King James Version of Exodus 20:7, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain…. So what does it mean to take the name in vain, or to “misuse” the name?
There is a unique word-play we don’t hear in English. JHVH (pronounced Ya-Way) is the Lord’s name. "Vain” is emptiness and is shawe' (pronounced Sha-Way). When you make the name empty you use it not according to His purposes…in vain! Yahweh becomes Shawheh.
In 1940 the Australian census recorded 127,000 people of a particular denomination. But, in all the churches of that denomination, Australia only had a total of 37,000 on membership rolls. Seven of ten who claimed the church were unknown to the church. We call that a profession of faith without possession of faith!
But the issue about the Lord’s name isn’t just a roll call – rather it’s calling down shame on the name. In our culture we hardly flinch when someone blasphemes the name of God, either by using his name as profanity, or ridiculing even the existence of God.
In 1939’s “Gone With the Wind” Rhett Butler spoke the famous line to Scarlett O’Hara that used the first slang “cuss” word in American movies. In today’s culture we’ve brought God into the mix. These days we ask Him to damn things constantly and nobody gives it a second thought.
We shame the name of Yahweh to be shawe’ – we make it empty and meaningless.
So what IS honoring the name?
Honoring the name of God has less to do with writing it without vowels or speaking it in hushed tones; it has everything to do with living a life worthy of that name. The big fisherman, Peter, gave us a picture of what it is like to honor the name:
So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16 (NLT)
John, the aged and beloved apostle, picked up on that theme in The Revelation when the vision God gave him showed the people gathering around the throne in glory:
Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.” Revelation 15:4 (NLT)
The NAME – it can be Shawe’ (empty) or it can be Yahweh (strong and holy).
Bring honor to the Name of our Lord today in all you say and do.
After all, Christian, you do bear your Father’s name.