I have a friend who was once trapped in a world of alcohol abuse, who had lost all hope and was on a path towards self-destruction. 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 said the word, “Jesus”. For the next three decades until now, she has not had a drink of alcohol or abused a drug.
God takes his name and the use of it very seriously. One of the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses is:
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. Exodus 20:7 ESV
How casually and easily the name of the Lord is tossed around. We may indulge in conversations, listen to music or watch entertainment where His name is routinely misused. It is quite easy to be desensitized when something like that is constantly going on around us.
But God considers the use of His name something sacred, something only to be used for divine and holy purposes. It is spoken during times of worship, prayer, petition, or teaching associated with God’s divine love and goodness.
Forty years before giving Moses the Ten Commandments, God called to him from the 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 told Moses is a little mysterious to us today. In Hebrew, it is written as YHWH. Some have since filled the vowels out as “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”. It means “I AM”, and it is also referenced as “The LORD”, given in all capital letters.
Several times, Jesus Christ 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 also revealed some of his generous and loving character attributes with his name. These give further testimony to the ways 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)
We need a continual provision from the Lord through all twenty-four hours of each day. If we make Him our priority in life, all of our needs will be provided for. God steps in and makes 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 as 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 he tells us we should hold in deep respect and use only in ways of 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 or emotion. Even believers that can quickly forget the divine attributes of God, and carelessly use His holy name in disrespectful ways.
When God came to earth in skin as Jesus Christ, He lived a holy and sinless life. Only as the innocent and pure Lamb of God was he able to be an acceptable offering for our sins, an atoning sacrifice. Though innocent, He was brutally beaten and crucified for our sake, receiving the punishment of death that we deserve for our sins and rebellion against God. After three days in the tomb, Jesus was raised from the dead. Forty days later, he ascended to the Father, and was crowned King of Kings and our great High Priest forever, reigning over all creation.
When we come to God in repentance, He receives us with overwhelming compassion, mercy and love, and He removes our shame. He puts the Holy Spirit within us and begins to change our inner nature , teaching us to live a holy life. He gently shows us our flaws and character defects, nudging us to resist them and to replace them with the loving and pure attributes of God Himself. Often one of the first good fruits we begin bear in the Christian life is to reduce or eliminate our use of inappropriate or coarse language, especially the misuse of the holy name of God.
Do I find myself misusing the name of God as I speak? In what ways do I do this? How can I begin to clean up my act in this area?
If we are constantly surrounded by inappropriate language, it seems normal and becomes 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 enjoy watching that frequently abuse the name of God? What can I do, and how should I respond to make it easier for me to obey this commandment?
Spend some time meditating upon some of the Names of God in the Old Testament, given in the text above. Which of these Names resonates the most 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.