Sermon – April 23, 2017
The warning to not take God’s name in vain is often thought of only when surprised homeowners see their newly renovated kitchen, people say Jesus’ name out of anger instead of reverence, or the too-oft used acronym OMG! is applied to nearly any situation when someone has nothing better to say. But the command to not take the Lord’s name in vain means much more than that. It means that God’s name is being given to his people, and as such, they bear a grave responsibility to model his nature to the world. If you would keep God’s worthy name, Moses says you must:
1. Find where God is worshipped
When the people take the land in Deuteronomy 12, they are instructed to immediately tear down the altars and pillars on which the former people of the land worshipped their gods (vv. 2-3, 29-31). In their place, they are to worship the One true and living God, but not by “doing whatever is right in [their] own eyes” (v. 8). Instead, they are only to worship God where he declares, in the place where he makes his name dwell (v. 5, 11, 18, 21). God’s name is magnified through right worship, at the right place. While Christ has eliminated the need for a specific location for worship, it is still within the temple of God, in Christ, among his people that right worship is found.
2. Listen to God’s voice
Deuteronomy 13 demands that the people not be led astray by those who demonstrate wonders and powers, by those who are nearest to them, or by worthless people to serve other gods. They must listen to the voice of God over and above any other voices. They can do this only because God has given them revelation outside of their own conscience – the written Word of God.
3. Identify as God’s people
Deuteronomy 14 again takes up the idea of God’s name (“You are the sons of the LORD your God,” v. 1) and begins to apply it to the food that the people eat. This is not so strange: we can readily identify people groups by the type of food they eat! While Jesus again eliminates the need for specific foods to mark out the people as clean (see Mark 7:14-23; Matthew 15:10-20), he provides for them new food and new drink to mark them out as his (John 6:53).
We, who have called upon God’s name, who call God both “Father” and “Lord,” who take upon them the name “Christian,” must be careful that we understand the burden we bear by these truths. Let our taking of God’s name upon us never be used foolishly, in vain, or uselessly. Let us magnify the name above all names by rightly worshipping him, listening to his voice, and identifying with him. By doing so, we “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” (Ephesians 4:1).