Tag Archive for third commandment

Ezekiel: When We Ruin God’s Reputation

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Ezekiel 36:16-21

God called Israel to be His own special people. He had set them up as a “light to the nations”, to be a living example of God’s people. He longed for the whole world to see them and understand what a great and loving God He was.

Instead, Israel’s sin had “profaned His holy name” among the nations (Ezekiel 36:20). They had given God a bad reputation. They had shamed Him. Their sinful ways and their public idolatry had given Him a bad name among nations who knew nothing else about Him but what they saw in their neighbor, Israel.

Their sinfulness finally forced God to punish them in a very public way. He handed them over to their enemies and sent them into exile – the northern kingdom of Israel around 722 B.C., and the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C. Of course, by this forced discipline, the Jews had made God’s reputation even worse. Their failure made God appear cruel and impossible.

But God’s deep, burning love never gives up on His gracious purpose. He loved both His covenant people, Israel, and all the other nations who had been given a negative opinion of Him. So what did He do? He announced that He would act dramatically, in a brand new way:

“It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name…Then the nations will know that I am the Lord…when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.” (Ezekiel 36:22-23, NASB)

His people had failed to show the world how holy and loving He is. So would God withdraw His blessings, His presence, and His salvation from His undeserving people? No. God’s overall purpose is always driving toward salvation, never away from it. He would make His salvation even greater and more gracious.

Keep God’s Name Holy

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:11-12; Ezekiel 36:22-28

The third of the Ten Commandments says,

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20:7, NASB)

What is God telling us when He says not to take His name in vain? I believe He is saying this:

My name is My identity.
It is Who I am.
Only say it if you mean it.
Don’t use it
as an expletive,
as a magic charm in an attempt to manipulate Me, or
as an empty vow to cover your lies.
Only say my name with the reverence and fear that my Being demands.
Keep My name holy.

But keeping God’s name holy affects far more than what we say. The Old Testament repeatedly warns God’s people against living in ways that would profane His holy name. God has a burning desire that all people everywhere would know Him. When we break His commandments and ignore His laws, we dishonor Him before those who need to see and know and trust Him. Sinful lives profane His holy name.

“I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.” (Ezekiel 36:23, NASB)

How can we keep God’s name holy? By living lives of love, honesty, consistency, and purity that show the world Who God is – that He is love, wisdom, peace, justice, and righteousness.