Derek Thomas: What’s in a Name?

Hallowed be your name” is what Jesus taught His disciples to say in prayer (Matt. 6:9). It expresses a desire that the Father will be revered and praised and spoken about in a manner that befits His resplendent glory and dignity. After hearing God speak and seeing a bush on fire with no apparent sign of being burned up, Moses asked, “What is your name?” In reply, God first said, “I am who I am” (or “I will be what I will be”), then shortened it to “I am,” then to “the Lord” (I AM translates the Hebrew Yahweh or YHWH, known as the tetragrammaton, a Greek term meaning “four letters.” English translations used to render it as Jehovah; Ex. 3:6, 13–16). Thus, God shows himself as the One who exists, eternally and without change, who is utterly trustworthy and dependable.

God’s name is who He is. And Yahweh or YHWH acts as a synecdoche—the part representing the whole. Thus, David sang, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Ps. 8:1). And in the Third Commandment, God tells us very clearly that we are not to misuse His name: “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” (Ex. 20:7). So seriously do the Jews fear misusing God’s name that they refuse to utter it at all. But that is more superstition than obedience; God wants us to use His name—but with respect and dignity.

THE FINE PRINT

Commandments have positive and negative things to teach us. First, let us consider the negative. The Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way: “The third commandment forbids all profaning or abusing of anything whereby God makes himself known” (A. 55). Using God’s name in a frivolous or insincere way is wrong. Take bad language, for example. Television and movies are so littered with expletives that we have almost become immune to their destructive power. The use of “Jesus,” “Christ,” or “God” as a mere expletive, vocalizing frustration or anger or disgust, is blasphemy, make no mistake about it.

Or, take promises we make. The Old Testament spoke strongly against the practice of adding God’s name to a promise to add extra assurance of its trustworthiness (Lev. 19:12; Jer. 5:2; Zech 5:4). And Jesus revealed the Pharisees’ insincerity and hypocrisy, masquerading as pompous piety, when they said promises made that excluded God’s name could be broken with impunity (Matt. 5:33–37). The statement “I give you my word” ought to mean what it says. Christians should make promises guardedly and keep them carefully.

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Ligon Duncan: Thank God for the Wonderful Incarnation of the Son of God

We bless you that when the fullness of time had come, you sent forth your Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5(ESV)

That the eternal Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and there were those who saw his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14(ESV) Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness, that God was manifested in the flesh. 1 Timothy 3:16(ESV)

We bless you that for this purpose he was born and for this purpose he came into the world, to bear witness to the truth; John 18:37(ESV) and we believe and have come to know that he is the Christ, the Holy One of God; John 6:69(ESV) that it is he who should come, and we are to look for no other.

We bless you that the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost; Luke 19:10(ESV) that he has come that we might have life and have it abundantly; John 10:10(ESV) and that the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8(ESV)

Lord, we receive the saying as trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, even the foremost. 1 Timothy 1:15(ESV)

We bless you that since the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things. Hebrews 2:14(ESV)That it is not angels that he helps, but us; and that he was made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people; Hebrews 2:16-17(ESV) and that he is not ashamed to call them brothers. Hebrews 2:11(ESV)

And that the firstborn was brought into the world with a charge given to all the angels of God to worship him. Hebrews 1:6(ESV)

This prayer Thank God for the Wonderful Incarnation of the Son of God was published at www.matthewhenry.org, Copyright 2016 – Dan Arnold and Ligon Duncan, used by Permission,  All rights reserved.