God's name is holy, it is to be respected and honored. The 3rd commandment* tells us not to misuse his name, that is take it in vain. In fact, the name of God is considered so holy to Orthodox Jews that they won't even say God's name in casual conversation. Instead they say, Hashem, which means, "The Name." And in fact, Yahweh, "LORD" or “Jehovah,” is called “the Name” in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Consider the following passages:
“The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse; so they brought him to Moses. . . Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him'" Leviticus 24:11-14.
"If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name—the LORD your God—He will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary disasters, severe and lasting plagues, and terrible and chronic sicknesses. He will afflict you again with all the diseases you dreaded in Egypt, and they will cling to you" Deuteronomy 28:58-60.
"but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name" Nehemiah 1:9.
"You shall not worship the LORD your God in this way. Instead, you must seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to establish as a dwelling for His Name, and there you must go" Deuteronomy 12:4-5.
Later, when the Apostle Paul wrote his letters to the churches, he made some audacious claims about Jesus.
Consider Philippians 2:5-11, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The Apostle Paul was a trained Pharisee. He believed the Hebrew Scriptures and understood the implications of putting forth the supremacy of Jesus’ name and the punishment for misusing the Name! So why would Paul proclaim that Jesus’ name is above all other names? Because he understood that Jesus was the Word who became flesh and tabernacled with us! (John 1:14) Paul was not saying Jesus’ name is greater than Jehovah, he was proclaiming Jesus IS Jehovah!
Today, let us confess the glorious name of Jesus—our Savior, Redeemer, and Friend—He is the Name above all names!
Copyright 2023 S.A. Keith
Photography by Edward Cisneros @unsplash.com
*The 3rd Commandment is not only about using God's name disrespectfully with our words. This command also has to do with God's people dishonoring God with their actions and behaviors. As Christ's ambassadors, his representatives, we honor God's name by obedience to his Word! Teach these truths to children, teach the Ten Commandments!
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