Today let’s look at the Third Commandment which says “you shall not take the Name of the LORD your GOD in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain“. That means if I do, if I take his Name in vain, I am held guilty. There’s always a punishment or consequences for being guilty of doing something that we are not supposed to do.
If God tells us or warns us about something and we choose not to pay attention, then aren’t His Words spoken “in vain”…regarded by us as having little or no value; especially when we know that everything that He ever promised us, He fulfilled…time and time again…we have countless stories to that affect not only in the Torah but also in our own lives.
When a dad, who loves his son tells his son what not to do because he wants to protect him, but then one day his son goes out and meets some of his friends. They convince him to do something that goes against what his father had warned him about. What should he do? He knows his father cares about him, but these are his friends. If he doesn’t go along with them, they would make fun of him, or reject him or bully him. So, he decides not to listen to his father (listen means obey). The father’s words held no weight at that moment for his son; his father’s words were “spoken in vain”. When the boy was caught, there were consequences for his actions. Did it mean his father loved him less? Of course not! But taking his father’s “words in vain” has the same connotation as taking his father’s “name in vain”. Others might then look at his father and think. “what kind of father is he?” How is he raising his son?” It reflects poorly upon him and might even destroy his father’s reputation as a man of honor. Our name has the same understanding as our reputation.
God’s reputation is at stake when we don’t trust his Words. That’s a serious offense against the One who always keeps His Word. Again, our reputation is our name. Once we lose it, it’s very hard to restore … very hard to get people to trust us again. When we, who say that we believe in God, speak or act in a way that takes His Name in vain, it reflects poorly upon Him and His reputation is at stake. That is a serious matter to the One deserves all honor and glory for who He is and all that He has done for us. Our prophet Ezekiel in chapter 36: 21 said about God. “I had concern for my holy name which had been profaned among the nations” and in vs. 22- “I do this for the sake of my holy name…” and vs 23: “I will sanctify my holy name…”. It has to do with His reputation among mankind.
Another way of look taking God’s Name in vain is when we put words in His mouth, say things that He never said. Don’t you hate when people put words in your mouth; when they accuse you of saying things that you never said. That’s a disease in this modern era of fake news. That’s why it’s always important to check the facts from the source, in this case, the Torah. I have heard so many religious people tell me, oh God said that I can’t do that, or God said that I can’t eat that, without ever verifying whether God really said it, or they heard it from someone else in authority. Never be afraid to question. I have been guilty of that and then I lose credibility. How much worse is it when God’s Words lose credibility because of us.
Would the Creator have taken the time to give us this Third Commandment if it had no value or was of little consequence? We do not give Him honor or hold Him in high esteem when we take His Name in vain just as we don’t honor our parents when we disobey what we were told for our own good.
Every day you and I are faced with having to make one decision after another. Decisions are always easier to make when we don’t have to worry about the consequences but for those of us who know that we answer to a higher power, we also know that our words and our actions affect others. That’s why we need a scale by which we can measure everything that we say and do; something by which we can judge what is wrong and what is right. If an architect had no standardized measure, then there would be no way to predict how a building would end up and would most likely come out crooked. It’s the same with our lives. That is why we need a standardized measure of Truth. But what is the Truth? That’s is a good question which many have asked over the centuries. It’s easy for some of us to say, Oh the Truth is the Word of God? But which word? Which God? Each of us has our own idea about what and who that is?
I can only speak for myself and after having spent almost 60 years of my life searching, I believe that Ultimate Truth lies in the Words handed to Moses on Mount Sinai and written in stone by the very Hand of the Creator almost 4000 years ago. He’s the God who brought my people, the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. He wants us to know the Truth so that we, His creation can live in peace and harmony on this gift of a planet that He made for us. That’s why I have decided to spend time examining the principles which are the key to a good, long and healthy life. They are called the Ten Commandments. These Ten Commandments all work together for our good and for the good of those whose lives we touch.