His Name In Vain

My name is how others identify me, how I introduce and represent myself; it symbolizes my character and nature. If someone disrespects my name, or leverages my reputation without my consent to further themselves, I take it personally.

Hubble: Pillars of Creation

Using someone’s name in vain is to employ it in a light, casual or inappropriate manner, for any other purpose than to refer to them and honor them. Doing so treats their name as if it’s void of proper meaning and significance, empty.

So, God is grieved as we take His name in vain (Ex 20:7), lightly, in an empty manner, when we aren’t referring to Him. To use His name as an interjection or expletive, as an expression of intensity or emphasis (e.g. J!, JC!, OMG! or GD!), is ultimately to disregard and despise Him. This is done so casually today, even by those who profess to believe in Him, we might have become desensitized, callous to it. God never gets used to it.

I never hear any false deity’s name ever taken in vain, only the true. What would be the point of insulting a non-entity? There’s only substance in trampling deity underfoot if He’s real, if He’s angered by the disrespect.

Should it grieve us, as it does Him? I think so.

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20 thoughts on “His Name In Vain”

  1. I agree with your thoughts here, Brother. However, I would like to bring to light a deeper meaning with this. While I personally have much appreciation for the KJV, I believe that this verse in the KJV does not give the full context and intent of what Abba is commanding us. A more direct translation should read: “You do not bring My Name to naught.” Casually AND irreverently speaking the Name of our Father is, at the very least, completely foolish. But, I believe that it is just as dangerous , if not, much more so, for a believer to DISREGARD AND / OR CHANGE His Name to anything other than what It is. I.e. changing the Name of Yahweh to LORD, GOD or Adonai. His Name has immense beauty and depth of meaning! By refusing to speak, write or translate His Name is what it means to bring His Name to naught! When one knows that Abba has a Name, not just a title, and ignores It, he or she reckons His Name of little or no (naught) value. Such an assumption that He does not care about His own Name is a very unwise assumption indeed!

    1. Very interesting comments! Thanks!

      As I’m no Hebrew scholar, and as I’d not consider any living soul to have sufficient credentials to correct KJV grammar, I’d come at this another way.

      While I agree that refusing to speak or translate YHWH’s name is disrespectful, I don’t think it technically violates this commandment, which describes an active misuse/abuse of His name, not a neglect of it, or a refusal to acknowledge or translate it.

      I agree the traditional Jewish practice here (of not translating His name and substituting other words for it) violates the command to not add to the word He has commanded or to diminish anything from it. (De 4:2) So I think we would arrive at partially the same conclusion but in different ways.

      I think what remains is the practice of translating His name the way that the KJV does. So in that sense, what evidence do you have for the meaning of God’s name YHWH that is not reflected in the KJV?

      1. “And it shall be at that day, saith YHWH, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.” Hosea 2:16 Who on earth has the credentials to change the most important Name in existence to Baal, i.e. The LORD? “…their fathers forgot My Name for Baal.” Jeremiah 23:27 See Strong’s H1168 One need not have worldly credentials to correct KJV grammar. One need only have the Holy Spirit that leads us into all truth! You, Brother Tim, can correct KJV grammar! The KJV translates YHWH to Jehovah only 4 times. They obviously knew that He has a Name, but changed it to LORD almost 7,000 times. That is a staggering problem!

        1. I agree that it is proper to use YHWH’s name; and I have a preference for translating His name JEHOVAH in the English Translation.

          What I don’t see is where you get the definition of LORD as Baali. Words have meaning based on cultural context; when I see the word LORD in the KJV I understand that it means JEHOVAH, not Baal. Why would you understand it any differently?

          Also, I disagree that the Spirit would enable either you or I to correct the KJV grammar based on how we happen to feel about it. I do not believe He works this way, any more than He supernaturally guides believers in picking a winner in the stock market or at the race track. Otherwise, we could expect to get 20 mature, spirit-filled believers to separately translate scripture, and we’d expect all of them to produce exactly the same thing. It will never happen this side of Heaven. 🙂

  2. “Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my Name.” Psalm 91: 14

      1. Knowing the Name of Yahweh is part of being lifted on high and exalted. However, I do not think that it is the only qualification. There needs to be more, such as: repentance, forgiveness, immersion, sanctification, etc.

  3. “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My Name.” Revelation 3: 8

    1. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” (Pr22:1)

      If our name is just our appellation, what we are called, then how can we choose it? What does it mean to choose a good one? How would this relate to this scripture you have quoted?

      1. Regarding Revelation 3:8, the point that I was making is that we should not deny His Name, i.e. by refusing to say Yahweh or Yeshua / Jesus. And, of course, not deny that He is the Messiah.

        1. I understood.

          What I was trying to point out that a person’s name can be more than what we call them; it can include the concept of their nature and character and reputation, which is something we choose as a manner of life; our appellation (what people call us) isn’t something we choose.

          I am thinking that these verses you are quoting from Ps and Re have more to do with YHWH’s character and reputation than what we actually call Him.

  4. Yes, regarding your last point about Abba’s Name. It is about reputation and character! Hebrew letters are NOT simply just letters to make phonetic sounds; each letter has meaning, a story to tell. YHWH means: The Hand, Behold, The Nail, Behold! This is so much deeper than just phonetically speaking His Name. It is more about attributing His character and love for us. For anyone to ignore such a marvelous truth and blessing seems a bit unreasonable.

    1. I agree that it is interesting that the letters of YHWH’s name might have had individual meanings in an ancient alphabet that is no longer in use. However, it seems to me that you are assuming you can derive the meaning of YHWH’s name by stringing together the meanings of the letters His name contains. I’m not so sure this is correct, even though it is interesting.

  5. To your former point: I regard the KJV as authoritative and I prefer it over other translations, but not perfect. I am not sure that we even have ANY perfect translations. I believe that the original is the best. This is why we need the Holy Spirit that leads us into all truth.

    1. By what authority do we correct the KJV?
      How does the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth apart from having a scripture that we fully trust?

  6. The next point about Baal: It literally means “lord”. Baali literally means: “my lord”. I believe that what Abba is telling us is that He does not like to be called LORD or my Lord. Again: “…their fathers forgot my Name for Baal.” (LORD)

  7. Where are you getting your definitions? How do you know what each Hebrew letter means?

    And doesn’t adonai also mean Lord? Doesn’t Abraham call YHWH this? (Ge 22:2,8)

  8. The definitions are from the Strong’s concordance. See H1168. Do you trust the concordance? Also, Praise be to Abba, I have an intermediate level of understanding of Hebrew; reading, writing and speaking Biblical Hebrew. I understand that all the letters have meaning because I have studied to show myself approved unto our Elohim, just as Paul exhorts us to do. The Hebrew letters that we have today are Babylonian. The more ancient scrolls have letters that are a bit different than what we have today. Yet, the oldest that I know of is referred to as pictorial Hebrew. They double as symbols and have meaning all their own. Hence, the meaning that I explained earlier are the symbols for Abba’s Name. It’s very easy to search online and verify this. However, I have learned this from brethren that are very advanced in Hebrew. Do you want their credentials? 🙂

  9. Thanks for the additional detail, my brother. I think we agree in spirit, that substituting a title for a name is inappropriate, and that it is a type of abuse of His name. I think the Jewish practice here is incorrect, and that their influence on the KJV translators was harmful to the translation. I expect YHWH allowed this for a purpose, but like you, I do wish they had used JEHOVAH consistently, as in Ex 6:3. When I read LORD, I understand this to be the meaning, and I often do the substitution internally as I quote the KJV.

  10. It is also interesting to observe that when God is quoting OT verses into Greek in the NT, He doesn’t retain the Tetragrammaton but substitutes the Greek: kurios, or lord. (e.g Ro 11:3) God does this consistently in the NT.

    To me, this gives a reasonable precedent for what the KJV translators did, though I still think in the OT it was perhaps a suboptimal choice.

    Why God does this in the NT is more difficult for me to explain; I don’t have a good explanation for it other than God must be OK with it, though I don’t think this means it’s required or optimal to refuse to translate His name. He certainly does in the OT KJV.

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