Do you know the Third Word?
The Ten Commandments, or the Ten Words, should be the foundation of how we live our lives. No greater instructions have been given. The Ten Words are the most important of YHVH's instructions on how we are to love Him, and love our neighbors. So much so that he wrote them down with His own hand. When was the last time you meditated on these Ten Words? I highly encourage it!
As I was chewing on them this week, the third Commandment stood out to me:
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
Exodus 20:7 NASB
This instruction surely teaches us to keep YHVH's Name Holy and to always esteem it in the highest regard. Anyone who uses His perfect Name loosely or haphazardly will be held accountable for taking His name in vain. This is clear.
Unfortunately, at this time, we do not know the proper pronunciation of this particular Name of our Creator. In the attempt to keep the Name sacred and Holy—with seemingly great intentions—the Pharisees successfully hid the true pronunciation. So much so, that even to this day, the Name is masked by "the LORD" in almost every English translation. The reality is that the Name is recorded over 6200 times in the majority of early manuscripts that we are blessed to have. Our Creator's Name is יהוה. Again, many differ on its pronunciation. Scholarly conclusions are that the Name is pronounced: Yehovah, Yahuah, Yahweh, Yehoveh, and a few others. However, the majority of recognized scholars understand that we cannot conclude on a particular pronunciation at this time. So what does that mean for those who take the third commandment seriously?
Sure, we shouldn't use any of the possible pronunciations in vain—we should not use His Name loosely. Even using the distinction God, loosely, could be taking His name in vain. But, is there more? Yes.
I truly believe that one of the reasons the Most High has allowed the pronunciation of His name to be hidden or without full clarity is because He wants us to focus on the deeper meaning of this command...
Names are important. Names are especially important to our Creator. Throughout Scripture, we can see that each individual's name says a lot about that person. Their names defined who they were, and visa versa. Hasn't that been true since the beginning of time for all mankind? Think about it. When you think or speak of someone's name, does that not connect who they are to the name. When I say, Donald Trump, does it not instantly communicate many things about who he is and the image he has carried of himself? Instantly, our idea of who Donald Trump is, becomes attached to whatever conversation or thoughts you have of him. The same goes for your spouse, your best friend, or your neighbor down the street. Their names declare who they are and how they live their lives. The image they portray and who they have defined themselves to be in their lives is attached to their name.
The same is true for our Creator. His Name is not just a pronunciation, but it is attached to His very image. When we speak of the Name of YHVH, we are also speaking of His image. The two cannot be separated.
When one speaks of our Creator—whether they use their pronunciation of יהוה, refer to Him as God, or any other form of communication that points to Him—they are also speaking of His image. This means that we better have His image straight... we better know who He is. We can know who He is through the record of Holy Scripture—specifically who He says He is, and how he makes a name for Himself (how He lives).
Do you see the depth of this command? Do you know the Name of our Creator? Do you know who He is?
If you're not 100% certain, shouldn't you read the Bible to find out? If we do not know the Name of our Creator, we are in danger of taking His name—His image and who He is—in vain.
You shall not take the name of יהוה your God in vain, for יהוה will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
In fact, this verse commands us to take the Name and image of God very seriously. If we do not take this seriously, we are rendering His Name as useless or unimportant. Vain can be defined as useless. The Hebrew word used here is shäv. It can be defined as emptiness, vain/vanity, falsehood, emptiness of speech, lying, worthlessness, and nothingness. Understanding the Hebrew (original language of the text) helps bring out the depth of this command, doesn't it?
If we do not know and give high regard for our Creator's image, we are taking His name in vain. He will not hold those guiltless who take his image in vain. If we render His image as useless to us, or twist it into falsehood, or conclude that it is worthless to us... we are breaking this command.
Again, do you know the Name and image of the LORD our God?
The Law of Moses, the Torah, is the self-revealed image of our Creator:
Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the Law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Joshua 22:5 NASB
Is this not of vital importance to believers? It should be... because before sin entered the world, we bore this image perfectly... we were made in the exact image of God. We bore His Name on earth. Furthermore, we are called to repent and return to this image. Remember, Yeshua bore this image perfectly:
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."
Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father...
John 14:5-12 NIV
Do you know the Name of God? Or do you take His name in vain? Will you repent and walk as Jesus Christ walked?
I urge you to meditate and chew on this. Your eternity is at stake.
If you want to learn more about the image of God, you'll enjoy testing The Eternal Question.
Sean is a former Atheist who was finally awoken to the reality of our Creator—which lead him to the one place he thought he would never step foot: “Bible College.” During his studies, our Heavenly Father flipped his Christian worldview upside down in order to reveal the Whole truth of His perfect Word. As a follower of Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus), Sean encourages believers to deepen their faith, seek the truth, test everything, and be willing to walk in the true image they were created: the image of the Most High and His flawless Son.