VALENTINE’S DAY GIFT
Barbour Publishing has agreed to give you a free Kindle download of my new release: Understanding Jesus, A Guide to His Life and Times.
It will be available for one day only, Thursday, April 14.
Go to this Amazon link on Thursday and you’ll see the $9.99 price marked down to “free.”
It’s the truth.
IT’S THE QUESTION OF THE WEEK
It comes from Steve Grisetti, and he gets a free book for his trouble.
What exactly does it mean to “Take the name of the Lord in vain”?
Steve’s question comes from the third commandment:
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” (Exodus 20:7, NKJV).
It may surprise some folks, but many Bible experts say they don’t know what that means.
Phrasing in the original Hebrew language is vague.
That comes across when we read different Bible translations in our attempt to figure out what we’re not supposed to do:
- Misuse the name of the Lord (NIRV)
- Wrongful use of the name (NRSV)
- Irreverent use and silly banter (The Message)
- Thoughtless use (NCV)
- As if it were of no significance (Common English Bible)
- Make empty promises (Easy-to-Read Version)
- Swear falsely by the name of the Lord (Tanakh—Jewish Bible)
Some theories about what we’re not supposed to do include sharply focused suggestions:
- Don’t lie under oath, when you’ve sworn on God’s Word to tell the truth.
- Don’t use God’s name in cussing, as in “God dammit.”
- Don’t use God’s name flippantly or disrespectfully, as in saying “Oh, God!” while you’re having sex or eating a cream puff.
One theory is much broader:
- Don’t misrepresent God’s name by claiming to be one of his own when you act like the devil.
According to that theory, the commandment isn’t about protecting God. It’s about protecting us from the likes of:
- Crooked preacher-types out to make a buck by telling us God will make us rich if we give our money to their ministry.
- Holier-than-thou hardliners who insist we believe what they believe about the Bible, or go to hell.
- Angry religious folks who hammer hurting people with Bible verses that hurt them all the more.
- Spiritual leaders who would send us into a crowd to blow ourselves up while screaming our last words: “God is great!”
During the Crusades, fought in God’s name, one of the Christians wrote this description of the battle for Jerusalem’s temple area.
Some of our men (and this was more merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city….
In the Temple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of the unbelievers….
Now that the city was taken, it was well worth all our previous labors and hardships to see the devotion of the pilgrims at the Holy Sepulchre. How they rejoiced and exulted and sang a new song to the Lord! The Siege and Capture of Jerusalem
Some would say that these Christians used God’s name in vain.
Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, preached an outstanding sermon on this topic a week ago. I’ve pulled some of this info from his excellent research, which I confirmed because I tend not to trust the research of preachers. Adam’s an exception to the rule. I’m a big fan of his ministry.
But I still check his research before passing it along to you.
So, what is God’s name that we are not suppose to use in vain?
Stephen M. Miller
I have read the blog. I see titles (god, lord) but know personal name. So, I ask again, what do you say is God’s personal name?
Stephen M. Miller
Steve, as I understand what most Bible experts are saying, this law isn’t about the personal name. It’s about the Person. It’s about dishonoring God.
As for God’s personal name, I think most Bible experts would point you to the dialogue between Moses and God at the burning bush, in Exodus 3:
13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
14 God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.
This is my eternal name,
my name to remember for all generations.
So, his name is Yahweh, right?
Stephen M. Miller
That’s the best guess of scholars.
The Hebrew was written without vowels, as YHWH.
Here’s an excerpt about it from my April 1 release, the Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
In ancient Hebrew, written in shorthand without vowels, “I am” appears as YHWH.
Scholars can only guess what vowels to insert. Their guess at the full word: YAHWEH (YAH way).
Many Bibles translate it “The Lord.” Used nearly 7,000 times in the Bible, it’s the most common name for God.
Additionally, I believe Jehovah is the most common name used today, would you say?
Stephen M. Miller
No, I wouldn’t agree with that at all. I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone call God the J word. They call him God. Jehovah, as I recall, is based on a mistranslation that should have been YHWH.
Consider these references and thoughts:
1. In 1278, though spelled differently, Gods names appeared it appeared in the Latin work entitled, Pugio fidei (Dagger of Faith), by Raymundus Martini, a Spanish monk. Raymundus Martini used the spelling Yohoua.
2. In 1303, a work entitled Victoria Porcheti adversus impios Hebraeos (Porchetus’ Victory Against the Ungodly Hebrews), Used God’s name, spelling it variously Iohouah, Iohoua and Ihouah.
3. In 1518, Petrus Galatinus published a work entitled De arcanis catholicae veri tactics (Concerning Secrets of the Universal Truth) in which he spells God’s name Iehoua.
4. William Tyndale published the first five books of the Bible in 1530. This is where God’s name was first appeared in an English Bible. In this he included the name of God, usually spelled Iehouah, in several verses, and in a note in this edition he wrote: “Iehovah is God’s name .
5. In the preface to the original German Elberfelder Bibel, it states: “Jehova. We have retained this name of the Covenant God of Israel because the reader has been accustomed to it for years.
6. J. B. Rotherham used God’s name in his translation but preferred the form Yahweh. However, in a later work, Studies in the Psalms, published in 1911, he returned to the form Jehovah. He reverted to Jehovah on the grounds of easy recognition.
7. It is interesting that The Catholic Encyclopedia [1913, Vol. VIII, p. 329] states: “Jehovah, the proper name of God in the Old Testament; hence the Jews called it the name by excellence, the great name, the only name.”
Many African, Asian, American and Pacific-island language versions of the Greek Scriptures use the name Jehovah liberally, so that readers can clearly see the difference between the true God and the false ones. The name has appeared, too, in versions in European languages.
The truth is, no one really knows how the pronunciations like Yahweh come from? This is a form that have been suggested by modern scholars trying to deduce the original pronunciation of God’s name from the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, four Hebrew letters represented in many languages by the letters JHVH or YHW. Some, though not all, feel that the Israelites before the time of Jesus probably pronounced God’s name Yahweh. But no one can be sure. Perhaps they pronounced it that way, perhaps not. No one knows for sure.
You might think it better to use the form closes to the original. However, this is not the custom of Bible names. For example, no or knows for certain how Jesus’ family and friends addressed him in day-to-day conversation while he was growing up in Nazareth. It may have been something like Yeshua or perhaps Yehoshua.
However, when the accounts of his life were written in the Greek language, the inspired writers did not stay with the original Hebrew pronunciation (what ever it was). They rendered the name in Greek, I·e·sous’. Today, it is rendered differently according to the language of the reader of the Bible. Spanish Bible readers encounter Jesús (pronounced Hes·soos’). Italians spell it Gesù (pronounced Djay·zoo’). And Germans spell it Jesus (pronounced Yay’soos).
So, the name, Jehovah, has a currency and familiarity that Yahweh does not have. It is note a mistake in translation. You will find Jehovah’s name inscribe on famous building and monuments all around the world.
Lord and God are titles, poor substitutes for God’s name.
Stephen M. Miller
Lots of people got God’s name wrong for a long time.
Scholars today might be as wrong about Yahweh as they say the ancients were about Jehovah.
But I expect God answers to a lot of names.
He’s more than a word.
Any name is a poor substitute for him.
I am surprise by your response. You indicated, Jehovah was not a name you have heard in a long time. While that may be the case with you, I provided just a few facts with references in support of how widespread the use of Jehovah’s name is used.
You are dismissing the facts as arbitrary, irrelevant and immaterial. In place of what? Just a personal belief that “Lots of people got God’s name wrong for a long time.” Lots of people like who? What concrete facts do you have to suggest that these scholar are wrong or that you are right?
This is the kind of thinking is just like the Jews who decide to stop using God’s name. They went to the extreme of not using God’s name in vain. They called themselves protecting the sanctity of the name. But Jehovah never commanded the discontinuance of using his name. He wants his name known. It is one of the assignments of Jesus when he was on the earth.
The Tetragrammaton (YHWH or JHVH) occurs more than 6,828 times in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) alone!!! Does that sound like a person (God) that does not want his name known????
More importantly, using God’s name in prayer is critical. There are a lot of gods. Satan, the demons, idols and some people are all worshiped as gods. Jehovah distinguishes himself from these false gods.
Don’t think that Jehovah is listening to prayers of people who repeatedly refuse to address him by his name, especially when his name has been declared over the entire earth through many generations and centuries. True, he is listening to honest-hearted people who are ignorant of his name. But once his name is made known to those honest-hearted ones and they refuse to use his name, their prayers are not being heard.
You can not profane God’s name if it is not used. What would be the point of not profaning God’s name if it is not known, let alone used???? Your logic makes the word of God invalid when it comes to knowing and using God’s name.
Your very survival depends on knowing God’s name. If you are not convinced or cynically untrusting of why you are hearing, do the research and ask God in prayer, if you truly want to know, to provide his name to you. And when he does, and he will, use it!!
You have the last word….