The Name of God (3/4)
Taking His Name in Vain
Now that we know that the name of God is not “God,” but YHWH, how does this change our perspective on the third commandment?
7 “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.
There are two things to consider here.
First, the name of God is YHWH. Although these four consonants, known as the Tetragrammaton, are commonly pronounced Yahweh, there are no vowel sounds attached to them in the Hebrew. The transliteration is, at best, only an educated guess at pronunciation. This means that the name of God is not pronounceable. Probably a good thing, because most of us in our sinful conditions would be bound to take it in vain in some fashion during the courses of our lifetimes.
The understanding that the name is not pronounceable begs a new question: How would a person manage to take the name of YHWH in vain? The answer not only brings us to our second consideration, but also serves to illustrate why at least an elementary understanding of the biblical languages is essential for serious Bible study.
In the Hebrew text of Exodus 20:7, the word translated “take” is nasa (say it nah-SAH). It means to lift, carry, or bear. This is easy to remember if you think of a NASA rocket lifting off carrying or bearing a specific cargo. Traditionally, we are taught to think of taking God’s name in vain as doing some really bad cussing, but that’s not it at all. As YHWH worshipers, we take his name by carrying it with us. We bear YHWH wherever we go and represent him by our lives. We take him to the world and show him to those who see us. When we nasa him in an unworthy way, we carry, take, and bear his name in vain. Now that you know this, you will forever see this verse, and God’s intent for our lives, in an entirely different light.
Beginning today, carry, bear, and take the name of YHWH to the world in a way you never have before! May God bless you in your efforts to serve him.