The Third Commandment

 “You do not bring the Name of YaHUaH your Alohim to naught, for YaHUaH does not leave the one unpunished who brings His Name to naught.” Exodus 20:7

What is YaHUaH saying to us here in this commandment? Oh to express the beauty of this instruction to readers with only printed words. Does your mind immediately go to a picture of a wedding, and a man and woman standing together at a ceremony, they say “I do” and the bride takes the name of her husband with joy and love? The bride is no longer called by the name she was born into, but she is now called by her new name… her married name… the name she took on the day of her marriage to him.

And when the bride receives letters of communication, or when she is addressed in public or at parties, she is addressed as “Mrs. [insert husband’s name: both first and last]” This is her new identity. When she leaves her home she is wearing her husband’s name. Her actions represent her husband and also her words. She is just as he is.

 “And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one is called ‘woman,’ because she was taken out of man.”

“For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:23-24

When a man and a woman are united in a covenant of marriage, they become, “one flesh” (Gen.2:24). And this “one flesh” bears one name. The wife is the beauty of her husband displayed to the world in her visible appearance. She represents her husband in her dress, the way she carries herself, her speech, the way she cares and nurtures others and her own children. She is the jewel in the crown of her husband.

 “And now, if you diligently obey My voice, and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above all the peoples – for all the earth is Mine –“ Exodus 19:5

“for you are a set-apart people to YaHUaH your Alohim, and YaHUaH has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a treasure possession above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 14:2

“And YaHUaH has caused you to proclaim today to be His people, a treasured possession, as He has spoken to you, and to guard all His commands, so as to set you high above all nations which He has made, for a praise, and for a name, and for esteem, and for you to be a set-apart people to YaHUaH your Alohim, as He has spoken.” Deuteronomy 26:18-19

“For Yah has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His treasured possession.” Psalm 135:4

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a people for a possession, that you should proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light,” 1 Peter 2:9

“You shall not take the Name of the LORD your God in vain…”

Do we profess a faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with our lips, but deny Him in our actions? Do we tell the world, “I said I do and I will,” to God… and then misrepresent our Alohim’s Name in that same world, thereby breaking the third commandment?

To the brethren reading this letter, what would you think, do, and feel if you found your wife outside the home dressed provocatively, perhaps drinking all day in a bar and dancing with other men. Perhaps you heard her gossiping or slandering someone you adored, or perhaps you found out she was having lunch with another man on a consistent basis. Is she representing you and your name properly? Are these things that are seen out in the public for all the world to witness concerning your wife… representing your good name in the way in which you not only revere your own name, but is she representing the name YOU DESIRE to be built up being represented by her?

If not, she has taken your name in vain, or falsely. She is bringing your name to nothing and declaring to onlookers, “I am not married, I am in covenant with no man, I am a possession of no one, and I am available.”

Women may have an advantage in the understanding of this commandment. Women and girls, by nature and upbringing, have some understanding of this truth. Men see this truth from their side… as the one who possesses and covers and gives his name to another. However men need to understand… in this relationship of Covenant with the Almighty Elohim – you are also the bride. Men should think on these things. Are you able to see how your actions in dealing in your businesses, whether you are secretive, or lying, or gambling, or stealing (in time and attention away from your family) – now you are behaving just as the wife in the bar. You see, you have taken the Name of your Alohim in a marriage covenant when you profess to believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Behavior outside the instructions (the Torah of YaHUaH) of the covenant bring the Name of your Elohim to destruction. You are taking the Name of YaHUaH in vain. This taking His Name in vain includes professing belief in Him and then conducting the wickedness of observing times and seasons that He did not put forth.

A man was asked, “what can a wife do to bring your name to desolation?” He replied, “When she displays perpetual anger, meanness, spitefulness.” He said, “my name is supportive and honest.” He plainly defined his name by actions that are accomplished in the physical world by his covenant partner.

He went on to discuss how he had experienced and been the target of possessiveness and the feeling of being used. He worked hard to have a good name and experienced that good name being taken by another and being used to obtain what the spouse desired. He specifically spoke about finances in the form of running up credit card debt and writing bad checks. He spoke of the other person, instead of “building up and improving” his name, the person tore down and brought his name low by her actions.

He spoke as if remembering something painful and asked, “Why would someone want my name if they are going to put me down. What part do they desire in me if they are going to continue to put me down?” This man plainly identified his worth with his name. What do you associate with your name? Would you approve of an impersonator going around the city, proclaiming to be you, then going about engaging in things like lying, stealing, cheating, using very poor language, abusing others, etc? This person is bringing your name to evil in the eyes of the world. So that when the name is heard – the world thinks evil, crookedness, and wickedness.

The name becomes synonymous with the action. The action creates the memory which speaks to people. All a person has is their name. It is the reputation. The name preceeds you. The name becomes the action the person takes who is bearing the name.

Another person once said, “I am afraid if I do not do all the things the Christian church does such as attend church on sun-day, observe Christmas and easter and all the traditional holidays, that people will think I don’t believe.” Do we see how our Alohim and the faith we proclaim has become something that does not represent His Name? How many of you have realized, that by walking out YaHUaH’s commandments in truth… is a greater testimony to your faith and His Character than your old walk ever was… just by your actions alone? There is a change in the day of observance for worship, what you do on that day or maybe don’t do, what you eat and don’t eat, how you dress, the days of the year you now consider Holy and how they are different from so many. This is the taking and the bearing of the Name of YaHUaH as He prescribed. Any other display of living becomes a false witness and a bringing of His Name to desolation and in vain, thereby breaking the commandment.

Hebrew Word Study for the Commandment

Take: nasa. Several Hebrew words are translated into the English word “take,” but this one means “lift up,” “bear,” “carry,” “use,” “appropriate.”

Name: shem The Hebrew root denotes something high or elevated, a monument implying majesty or excellence. It is an outstanding mark, sign, or reputation. Thus “name” is a word by which a person, place, or thing is distinctively known. A name identifies, signifies, and specifies.

Vain: shav. The underlying Hebrew word suggests emptiness, futility, and/or falsehood. It implies lacking in reality, value, or truth. Its single-word synonyms—depending upon the context—are “futile,” “worthless,” “profane,” “foolish,” “reproachful,” “curse,” “blaspheme,” “purposeless,” “useless,” “inconsequential,” “unsubstantial,” and “vaporous.”

shav’ {shawv} or שוא shav {shav} from the same as 07722 in the sense of desolating; TWOT – 2338a; n m AV – vain 22, vanity 22, false 5, lying 2, falsely 1, lies 1; 53 1) emptiness, vanity, falsehood 1a) emptiness, nothingness, vanity 1b) emptiness of speech, lying 1c) worthlessness (of conduct)

שוא show’ {sho} or (fem.) שואה show’ah {sho-aw’} or שאה sho’ah {sho-aw’} from an unused root meaning to rush over; TWOT – 2339,2339a AV – desolation 5, destruction 3, desolate 2, destroy 1, storm 1, wasteness 1; 13 n m 1) ravage n f 2) devastation, ruin, waste 2a) devastation, ruin 2b) ruin, waste (of land)

Guiltless: naqah. This word indicates “free,” “clear,” “innocent,” “clean,” “blameless,” “unpunished.”

What about Reputation?

What about YaHUaH’s reputation? Can people look at us as believers and form ideas and thoughts about our God? Of course they do and this is very serious! The reputation of an entity (a person, a group of people, an organization) is an opinion about that entity, typically a result of evaluation on a set of criteria. It is important in education, business, and communities. Reputation may be considered as a component of identity as defined by others. Who, if not believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, have the responsibility of bearing His Name in the earth?

Reputation as a socially transmitted (meta-) belief (i.e., belief about belief) concerns properties of agents, namely their attitudes toward some socially desirable behaviour, be it cooperation, reciprocity, or norm-compliance. Reputation plays a crucial role in the evolution of these behaviours: reputation transmission allows socially desirable behaviour to spread. What about the issue of spreading the Gospel? Do we bear the Name of YaHUaH, or do we bear the name of ourselves, our churches, our organizations or denominations, the social club we belong to?

The instruction in the Shema is an example of our taking The Name of YaHUaH, which is Himself, into our families and communities. We help Him build His reputation in the world by our performing His commandments.

“And these Words which I am commanding you today shall be in your heart, and you shall impress them upon your children, and shall speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up, and shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9

As we demonstrate the Torah in truth to the world, we begin to leave an impression of YaHUaH and who He is. These impressions that we leave work to form an image in the mind. Do we leave a true image of YaHUaH or do we, by our actions, take His Name in vain?

Some bible translations use the word “take” as in “thou shall not take the Name…” and others render the word “bear” and it reads “thou shall not bear the Name in vain.”

In Matthew 10:22 Messiah tells us “And you shall be hated by all for My Name’s sake. But he who shall have endured to the end shall be saved.” Why would the people of the world hate us over a Name? Have you ever wondered about this? A name is just a word… right? Or is it? Could it be that what the world will hate is what we ‘stand for’ or ‘stand against’ as we raise the banner of YaHUaH’s Name? There should be many things in this world that we will not go along with as we bear His Name in truth.

And again in Luke 21:12 “But before all this, they shall lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the congregations and prisons, and be brought before sovereigns and rulers for My Name’s sake.” These are those who are not going along with the crowd and are “different” as in “set- apart.” It is His Name (His commandments) that sets them apart.

Rev 3:8 “I know your works – see, I have set before you an open door, and no one is able to shut it – that you have little power, yet have guarded My Word, and have not denied My Name.”

YaHUsHa told Paul that he was to “bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Paul says that he labored. Read that and understand. Bearing the Name of our Messiah is not a cake-walk. Wearing His Name takes much work in getting our flesh and sometimes personalities out of the way. Bearing His Name requires a renewing of our minds so that they line up with His. Bearing His Name requires we change our natural desires and continue working and laboring until His desires are our desires. This is the writing of His Word upon our hearts.

YaHUaH insists that we bear His name honorably. He chooses mankind to be the vehicle for His divine light, and by obeying His Voice and guarding His covenant, we exude light and wisdom, and draw other nations and people to Him. He reveres His Name and gave us the instruction, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” and strengthens the instructions with a consequence of not guarding it. “For YaHUaH does not leave the one unpunished who brings His Name to naught.” He makes us set apart by placing upon us His Set apart Name made visible by our actions in the world through our obedience. His Word is His Name.

The world’s view of YaHUaH is often shaped by the lifestyles of those who bear His name. We are to live so “that the name of our God and his doctrine be not blasphemed” (1Tim.6:1). Do you ever wonder what first comes to mind when others “think” of you? Even if we talk about YaHUaH and our faith a great deal, do we cause others to match up our actions with words like: mercy, grace, love, forgiving, slow to anger, righteousness, compassionate? These are characteristics of our Alohim.

Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that, because of the manner of some believers, the unbelieving hold a low opinion of God. Speaking of the some who were evil, Paul wrote, “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you”Rom.2:24

What a sad commentary upon our guarding the commands. Yet, even those well known for their devotion to God have, by stumbling into a transgression, sometimes brought shame upon the holy name they bore. Sternly rebuking King David, who was crushed with remorse for his sin with Bathsheba, the prophet Nathan said, “by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2Sam.12:14). Nathan was not concerned that the Lord’s enemies would blaspheme David for his sin. What disturbed him was, he knew that sinful souls would use David’s sin to defame the God David served. Oh, how it must have grieved David to think of the disgrace he had brought upon the One who had lifted him from the lowly status of shepherd-boy to be King of Israel! David’s heartfelt confession of sin included an acknowledgement that his sin had actually been against God Himself (Ps.51:4), for it was God’s holy name which was brought into disgrace by David’s evil deed.

What more compelling reason could we have for living a holy life than to bring honor to the holy name we bear?

Proverbs 22:1 instructs us about the importance of one’s name: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.” A person’s name, which holds his reputation, could be considered his most valuable asset. How many times does God say, “For My name’s sake”?

Isaiah 43:10-12 bears on our responsibility to uphold God’s name:

“You are My witnesses,” says the Lord, “and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior. I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, and there was no foreign god among you; therefore you are My witnesses,” says the Lord, “that I am God.”

Since we, as sons of God, now bear His name, we witness for God both as an individual, leading our lives, and as a body, living the gospel.

By our conduct, we hallow or profane God’s name. We keep or break the third commandment the same way. This commandment sets the standard for our witness and tests its quality. God’s name is the standard. If we take the name of God and use it in any way that denies its true meaning and God’s character, we are either breaking this commandment or are on the way to doing so.

The apostle John writes in 1 John 3:1-3 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies Himself, just as He is pure.”

People spend their lives chasing after a name that will bring them a measure of honor or notoriety. They want to be associated with a “name” university, a “name” team, a “name” company; wear clothing with a certain “name” label; drive a “name” automobile; or marry into a certain family “name.” Yet, the greatest name that anyone could possibly bear has come to us when we did nothing to have received it. Thus, John is exhorting his readers to remember their privileges in bearing that awesome name.

Is there a paradox in what John writes? We know that in order to see God, we need to be like Him. Carnally, we think that to be like Him, we need to see Him. God says that seeing Him is not necessary, as He has chosen to conduct His purposes for man through man and his faith in His Word in action. He has revealed what He is by His names and by the life of YaHUsHa. By faith and guarding the commandments, we can emulate Him through His Spirit.

Malachi 3:16 Gives us a wonderful insight into heaven, and the books that are kept there: “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.” Meditating on His Name is the same as having His Commandments as frontlets between our eyes, and written on our hands.

Some teach that the third commandment is concerning the use of different names. That unless the name they propose is used, then you are taking His Name in vain. Someone could be using the right name day in and day out in the speech and writings, but if they are angry, mean, spiteful, cheating, abusive, or calls there brother a fool – they have taken YaHUaH’s Name and brought it to desolation. They are breaking the third commandment whether or not they have the right name or not. Can we see this?

He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. Revelation

This commandment has nothing to do with the proper pronunciation of God’s name, which no one knows for certain how to say anyway. It also has nothing to do with superstition or magic. It has little to do with cursing as most are taught for the last centuries. This commandment’s application is much broader, deeper, and more dignified than that.

To know the name of God is to know God as He has revealed Himself, that is, to know His nature. His Name is His Word and Instructions to us on how to conduct our lives. Someone could be using His Name perfectly in speech and then be involved in trespass and sin and bring His Name to naught and be taking His Name if vain.

So next time our child asks us, “what does it mean to take God’s Name in vain?” Let us tell them it is about being true to His commandments, and doing what He tells us to do in His Word. It is about obedience, so that we may reflect His True Image to the world and be a true witness of His Character. Please let us not end it with – “don’t curse or swear” Let us not cheat our children out of the true knowledge and understanding of what this most beautiful commandment means.