The Name of God – Exodus 20

I had a friend Donna who was once trapped in a world of alcohol abuse, had lost all hope and was on a path of self-destruction. Then one day, out of the blue, she had an encounter with the living God. She heard a voice clearly speaking to her, telling her, “Say my Name.”  In response, she took a step of faith and spoke the word, “Jesus”.  For the next three decades, she did not take a drink of alcohol or abuse a drug and was sober until the day she passed. God used her along the way to help many others achieve their own victories over substance abuse.

There is power in the name of God, and He takes His name and the use of it very seriously.  One of the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses is:

“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. Exodus 20:7 (ESV)

How casually the name of the Lord is tossed around in day-to-day speech.  We may hear it being misused in conversations, while listening to music or when watching entertainment. In fact, it is easy to be desensitized to it when something like that happens so frequently around us.

But God considers the use of His name to be something sacred, only to be spoken for divine or holy purposes.  Its use is appropriate during times of worship, prayer, petition, teaching, or conversation associated with God’s divine love and goodness.

Before giving Moses the Ten Commandments, God first called to him from a burning bush in the desert.  Moses humbled himself and, after receiving some instructions from God, asked the Lord His name.

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14 (ESV)

The name that God revealed to Moses is a little mysterious to us today.  In Hebrew, it is represented as YHWH.  Others have since filled the consonants with vowels pronouncing it as “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”.  The Name means “I AM”, and is also referenced as “The LORD” in all capital letters in the Bible.

In the New Testament, Jesus often alluded to His identity as God by using some variation of “I am” in His speech:

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.  John 6:36 (ESV)

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (ESV)

58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58 (ESV)

Throughout the Old Testament, God reveals more of his generous and loving attributes by adding to His names.  These also give further testimony to the ways that He reaches out to help us in our times of need.

Some of the Hebrew names of God and the places where they can be found are given below:

YHWH-Jireh – The LORD will Provide (Genesis 22:14)

YHWH-Rapha – The LORD who Heals (Exodus 15:26)

YHWH-Nissi – The LORD our Banner (Exodus 17:15)

YHWH-Shalom – The LORD our Peace (Judges 6:24)

YHWH-Elohim – The LORD God (Ps 59:5)

YHWH-Rohi – The LORD our Shepherd (Ps 23:1)

YHWH-Sabaoth – The LORD of Hosts (Isaiah 1:24, Psalm 46:7)

These names declare that God will step in and make a way for us, comforting us in our grief, healing our diseases, and keeping us safe during times of trouble.  He brings us serenity and peace even when we are surrounded by strife.  He is the Good Shepherd, leading us successfully through the afflictions and challenges that face us each day.

God’s name is something to deeply respect and use only in reverence.  We are not to abuse it, as is so often done in our culture, which commonly uses it as an expression to add emphasis.  Even believers can quickly forget the divine attributes of God, and carelessly use His holy name in disrespectful ways.

Often one of the first good fruits we begin bear in our new or renewed Christian life is to reduce or eliminate our use of inappropriate language, especially the misuse of the holy name of God.


Do I find myself misusing the name of God as I speak?  If so, how can I begin to clean up my act in this area?

If we are constantly surrounded by inappropriate language, it can seem normal and become more difficult to resist using it ourselves. Who do I hang around with that constantly uses coarse language?  What TV shows or movies do I watch that frequently abuse the name of God?  How should I respond to make it easier for me to obey His commandment?

Which of the additional Names of God given in the text above resonate with you at this moment of your life?  If you are led, call upon the name of the Lord using this holy name, and meditate upon His presence with now with you.

Lord, we come to You in prayer to ask You to help us honor You and Your Name in our daily speech and activities. We seek to walk with You in purity and love, and we ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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