Bible reading: Exodus 20:7
03/08 – The One who listens at all times.
We are knowing God more deeply these days while studying the Ten Promises expressed as vows of marriage. We know now that Exodus 20 is the certificate of marriage between God and His people. There God registered these 10 vows or promises enounced publicly before the entire Universe, accepting Israel as His spouse.
The first promise made by God, He commits to become your Husband, to be faithful to you and to take care of you in such a way that you will always remain faithful to Him. There will be nobody else but God in your life, who will stay with you at all times.
In the second promise or marital vow God commits to stay constantly at your side. He promises to escort you at all times, to the point that you will never need a photo to remember Him. He promises as well to take care of you and all your family, like a doctor visits his patients at home to take care, oversee and heal them.
Today we are going to study the third promise, a very interesting one.
Let’s read Exodus 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (NIV).
The third commandment or promise it has been traditionally understood, and it is correct indeed, as a prohibition of taking the name of God lightly. This is correct, but we have lost a wider meaning of this text, and more personnel as well. We are missing the Promise that God has made to us here.
As it happens in the second promise with the verb paqad, translated as “puishing” when actually means “visiting”, this time it happens the same with “the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless”. The concept behind this sentence refers to the “consequences”. To fail in trusting God, in His promise carries serious and sad consequences, which might be terrible at the end.
So, how may we understand this apparent contradiction between “promise” and “punishment”? Only understanding correctly the whole meaning of this text, of this promise, which does not exclude the traditional interpretation, but which widens it even more.
If we put God first in our life and we integrate Him constantly in our daily life, then we start a true relationship with Him. His presence becomes constant and it does not depend on any image or photo, then we will achieve the third promise as a natural consequence.
Exodus 20:7 “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (KJV).
Later we will study the second half of the verse. Why do we have names? For what do we use names? What do you do when you want to call the attention of someone? We call him/her by his/her name, otherwise, that person will not understand we are calling him/her and will not answer.
I am going to ask someone to come here. I will ask for his/her name. Then that person will turn his/her back to me. I will call that person by different names but the real one. Finally, I will call that person by the real name and he/she will turn around to answer.
When the person turns around, shows that he/she has been paying attention, and as a consequence, he/she would have answered my call. Now let’s repeat the same experience but, this time that person will NOT answer at all despite all my efforts. Even tapping his/her shoulder will be useless.
This example shows two different uses of a name. In the first case, I have used his/her name to ask for help, and I obtained an answer.
In the second case, and despite all the efforts and the right use of the name, I did not obtain any answer. I have used his/her name “in vain”.
What God is trying to say in this promise or vow is: “Every time you call my name, I will answer. You will never use my name in vain”. God will always answer because He is always beside us. He will always answer our prayer, our call. Every time we pronounce His name, se speak to Him or about Him, there will always be a positive outcome. Never will be in vain. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”.
Do you realize what is God promising here to you? I promise to be all what you need. I promise to be with you every single day, to live with you to the point you will never need any photo of me. But one thing is to be besides someone (be present), and another is to pay attention to that person. God promises to pay attention to you, to answer every time you ask for Him or you call Him. He will answer the “telephone” each time you dial His number (p-r-a-y-e-r).
But this promise does not mean that He will always agree with you. It could happen that God does not answer as you expect or as you would like.
What happens when someone does not answer the way you expect? Sometimes we do not like the answer or we are not interested in that answer, so you ask again… you ignore the answer…
Imagine this situation:
- Someone calls you by your name. You answer.
- That person asks you for advice or some help for a particular problem.
- You answer with the best advice or, may be, you tell that person to wait for a moment.
- That person finally does what she wants, and not what you told him/her to do.
You may logically say: Ok, but if you ask me for advice, and finally you do as you want, then, why are you calling me? The same happens to God. He has promised to listen to you, he has promised that each single time that you call His name, you will never do it in vain. But this promise has an implicit advertence: “If you call my name, I expect you to follow my advice, if not, it will be better not to call my name”.
If you do so, then you would also have used the name of God in vain. God could say: “Why are you calling my name? Why do you invoke me? Why do you ask me for advice? Why do you ask me for help if finally, you will do as you want and you will not accept my answer? ”
Take or pronounce the name of God in vain goes further than just a “blasphemy”. It is also not appreciating the promise of God in a proper manner. It is also disobeying God after receiving His answer. It is failing Him rejecting His advice after asking Him.
Obviously, all those who invoke the name of God, those who “pronounce His name” to ask for wisdom or anything else, and despise God’s answer, that person would be invoking or using the name of God in vain as well.
The consequence (or punishment) is something natural. Despise God’s advice, His help and wisdom, will always have negative consequences for the human been, that’s enough as “punishment”.
God gave you His opinion or advice, but you have decided to take your own decisions or choices not listening to God. In the very moment when we start a new course in a different direction of what God told as was the best, or if we do not wait until the moment when God decides to break the silence, all that will bring us to act in a wrongful way, with disastrous consequences.
Making wrong decisions has consequences, and that’s exactly what God tried to avoid in your life by His advice through His answers. But the Lord cannot force you to accept His answer. He respects your freedom, despite His promise of staying at your side at all times. He cannot force you to accept His blessings. Things will follow in a logic and natural way, and that is what we find in the second half of the promise:
Exodus 20:7 “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain”.
The very fact of leaving us to our fate, suffering the natural consequences of our choice, is enough punishment. God cannot force anybody to be blessed, He cannot act against the human will. But if we use His name, to say, if we call Him to ask for help and after that we reject His advice or help, then God could say: “This injustice is not because I am against an “innocent person” who is forcing me to intervene, but it is the result of his own will and decision. He or her has chosen that way despite my advice”.
Even in this situation God still waits and remembering us that He is still willing to listen to you, even after you took His name in vain. God still waits for you to call His name again, expecting this time to be for good, and that this time you will accept His advice and answer, so He could be able to help you finally.
No matter the mistakes we have done until now. I am sure our wrong decisions have already bear their fruits, serious and painful consequences. Despite your failure and mistrusting in God, He promised to stay constantly at your side, ready to answer again, expecting you to accept His answer this time.
Never forget that God is a living God. He has made you wonderful promises.
God has promised you that you will never need a photo of His, because He will be at all times with you.
God has promised, not only to stay with you every single day of your life, but He also has committed Himself to expend every minute being interested in you, in your problems and your worries.
He also has promised to intervene in your life in a powerful way. He has promised to visit you every day, as a doctor visits those who are ill, to follow up your healing process.
God has promised as well to take care of your family, of those who you love the most, to help them too.
God has promised to listen to you with all His senses, paying extreme attention, answering to you every time you call His name. We have a wonderful God, who really loves to make promises, but even more in fulfilling these promises.
No matter your mistakes until now. Surely there are consequences, but God promised to wait for your return to Him. He is constantly ready to answer to each “prayer-call”, every time we use or invoke His name and forgive our failures.
Do you want to accept this promise today? I invite you to pray, asking God to fulfill His promise in your life. Pray with the assurance that He is listening to you. If you have a burden because of your past errors, pray as well, knowing that He stands His promise and He is willing to listen to you. Tell Him your problems. He is willing to help you to overcome your challenges. I invite you to pray.