Sunday, 7th February 2021
– Rev. Daniel Xi An Poon
Last year we learned about the first two of the ten commandants, today Rev. Daniel will guide us to study the third commandment, and continue to see how God wants to keep the relationship with us.
Exodus 20:7 “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.“
In the original text of Bible, the word “take” means to carry out. This means when we say we are Christians, the followers of God, we carry God’s name in us. But do we really know the meaning behind all the names of God? We know through Exodus that God revealed His name to Moses – “I AM WHO I AM” (Yahweh). He was saying that He is self-existing, no one has put Him in the world, and He can make anything possible.
The Israelites living in Egypt forgot about the name of God because they followed the culture in Egypt. And in 594 B.C., the Israelites even stopped using the name of God. They had learned from the Gentiles around them and worshipped idols instead of God.
When we worship other things instead of God, we bring shame on God. That’s why it’s important to know God’s name, and only by being humble can we truly know God’s name, which is all-powerful.
1: Hallowed Be the Name of the Lord
This is the very first sentence of the Lord’s prayer – Jesus did not say “Hallowed be God” but “Hallowed be Your name”. His name is above everything, so when we say we worship God, we are actually worshiping the name of God.
Ezekiel 36:20-23 “20 When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name—when they said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they have gone out of His land.’ 21 But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went. 22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. 23 And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.”
From the book of Ezekiel, we see that the Israelites were worshiping idols instead of Yahweh. This is name is critical as no other “gods” can qualify for this name. Humans gave these idols their names, but our God is the Creator, who appears and tells His people – through the leaders He chooses – His name. This is because we the creatures can never fully understand God. We know God through the Bible, which is the GPS on earth for us, and thus our knowledge of God is very limited. Therefore we should not judge others too quickly but just focus on the great mission that God has given us in Matthew 28, and pray for the leaders of this world.
*In the Old Testament there are some verses that declare how powerful the name of our God is:
1) Proverbs 18:10 – “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.”
God’s name “is a strong tower”, so we must recognise His name, and know the purpose of His name for us.
2) Psalms 20:7 – “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.“
When the world talks about “god”, they don’t really know about our God, whose name is “I AM WHO I AM”. We need to know and remember that this name has power and authority, and it is everything for us. So the only thing we do is to trust in His name.
*In the New Testament our Lord Jesus also taught us about the importance of God’s name:
1) John 17:6 – “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.“
Jesus carried in Him His Father’s name, so people know God through His life. God’s name is not some words but everything on us. Therefore, being the followers of God is a big assignment. We need to be careful in our living, to glorify God and not bring shame on God.
2) John 17:11- “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.“
Jesus continued to tell us how important is His Father’s name for Him and for us. We need to remember all His names, which will help us go through all the mountains and valleys in our life, and enable us to stand in front our enemies.
3) John 17:12 – “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.“
Since Jesus knows how important the name of God is, He is able to do all this through God’s name. But we as His followers do not know about it. When we pray to God using God’s name, we ask Him to do things for us, not knowing that He has already done everything for us. This shows that we do not really know God’s name, which is contradicting to what Jesus has taught us in the Lord’s Prayer – we should seek for God’s kingdom and His will instead of our own. We should be like our Lord Jesus, knowing that God has prepared everything we need, just like how God provided for those Israelites in the wildness for 40 years that they had manna to eat every day, and their clothes and sandal were not broken at all. These miracles happened to the Israelites without them asking God. How about our prayers? Do we just pray for what we want for our personal life? The name “Jehovah Jireh” means God will provide, do we believe this when we declare it? We need to repent that we did not really know God well before.
This is why we need to follow the Lord’s prayer as Jesus taught us, “May Your will be done.” Our heavenly Father knows what His children need. He loves us, and His love has never changed. It is our problem that we sin against God and then hide from Him, choosing to cut our relationship with Him. Do not be like those Israelites in 600 B.C., who decided not to mention the name of God at all for fear of the punishment for breaking the 3rd Commandment. However, this was not God’s intention – He gave us the ten commandments to help us keep a close relationship with Him. Therefore, Jesus came to give us the revelation to worship God’s name again so we can all be blessed.
2: Not in Vain To Mention God’s Name
Though the Israelites decided not to talk about God’s name in 600 BC, we still mention His name in vain today through our prayer. Just as James 4:3 says:
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.“
We use the name of Jesus to end our prayer, but instead of praying according to the will of God, we just pray according to what we want, asking God to fulfill all our personal desires. We only care about our feelings and promote about understanding people’s feelings. This happens because the church nowadays has allowed the psychology theory to come in and mix with the Biblical teaching and counselling. However, if we do not truly understand our own feelings, how can we understand others’? We are also not to rely on other people’s understanding to make us feel good. One of the popular theories is “The 5 Love Languages”, which teaches us to please others according to the way they feel loved. But this is in contrary to God’s creation – each one of us is created by God as a complete person, being able to feel love in any way. The right teaching here should be to bring those people who could feel love only through certain channel(s) to Christ, and help them dig out the root cause and receive healing from God.
Is our prayer for us to fulfill our will, or God’s will, this is something we must ask ourselves. In John 16:24 –
“Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
Here our Lord Jesus is teaching His disciples to ask for God’s will in their prayers and understand God’s purpose.
Jeremiah 23:25 –
“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’”
‘And the Lord said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’—‘By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed! ‘
It is okay to say a prophecy to bless or encourage other people, but we need to be careful when we prophesy in God’s name. Do not say “I feel God’s telling me” when He has not, because we have mentioned His name, He will take this seriously and He will deal with the person giving false prophecy using His name.
How can we tell whether a prophecy is false or not? We must have a very close relationship with God through daily devotion – including prayers and the word of God. That is why our church commits to the morning prayer where we read and study the Bible chapter by chapter, and thus receive guidance from God through the word of God we learn daily.
“And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.“
When we want other people to trust us more, we often swear an oath using God’s name to affirm what we talk about. But this is not the way we use God’s name, for He is our Creator, and we are not His creator to use His name for our own good.
People nowadays like to say OMG to express their frustration or negative emotions, or the word starting with “J” to curse, and this has become so common that even the characters in cartoon movie would say that. God will take this seriously because this is a totally wrong way (“in vain”) to use God’s name and we Christians must not follow.
3: Blessed Be the Name of God
Psalm 44:8 – In God we boast all day long, And praise Your name forever.
Psalm 100:4 – Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
Psalm 113:3 – From the rising of the sun to its going down， The Lord’s name is to be praised.
God’s name is to be praised and blessed, His name is prepared for us. We often mention God’s name in vain, and then the devil will deceive us by telling us not to call on God’s name to avoid any trouble. This has however twisted God’s heart behind the 10 commandments. The timing of the 10 commandments is very important – God gave them to the children of Israel after He had delivered them from Egypt. If God had asked the Israelites to obey the 10 commandments before saving them, then He would be controlling them. But the truth was the opposite, God did all the wonderful miracles to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and made a covenant with them at Mount Sinai, because He wants to have a loving relationship with Israel and did not want them to get lost again for another 400 years.
We, the sinners, can be here to receive all the blessings, it is all because of the grace of Jesus Christ and the love of the Father. We need to repent and return to God, build relationship with Him, and do not be like those Israelites having lost for 400 years. Jesus is not here to condemn us, but to show His love and care for us.