The Neglected Commandment

7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Exodus 20:7

It seems obvious that one of the ways society misuses God’s name is through profanity or swearing.

There’s actually a bigger issue to contend with. “Whenever a person misuses God’s name, they are defaming his reputation, disrespecting his character and disregarding his authority” – Pastor Steve Greene. In other words, someone’s life can also misuse God’s name.

  • If someone says this “word” is from the Lord and it doesn’t match up with Scripture, that’s misusing His name. An example of this might be a Bible school student telling his girl friend that “God told me we were to get married,” when God hadn’t told her yet. It didn’t match up with the Word of God.
  • If someone is mean and disrespectful but announces they are Christian, that’s disrespecting His character and misusing His name. An example might be being rude to a waitress and then praying over your food. The two character changes within a few minutes time doesn’t bring honor to God.
  • “Oh my God,” “OMG,” “Dog gummit”, “Jiminy Cricket” “Gosh Darn”, and “Jumping Jehosaphat” are all ways of ‘cussing’ without ‘cussing’, as well as those words that are being hidden by these words. That’s also a misuse of His name.

This is the commandment we obey just by living an upright and godly life, not a perfect life but an upright life.

When we are bringing glory and honor to God, it pleases Him. We are uplifting His name.

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A Jealous God

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6

The second commandment is related to the first in that it states the inverse of loving the Lord God.

We can define jealous in two distinct ways in the English language.

One is being jealous for something that’s ours. You would be jealous if another man flirted with your wife. Only you should be permitted to do that. She “belongs” to you. You should be jealous of that “right.”

The other definition of jealous is envying something. “I’m jealous of that new car he bought.”

Honor and praise and glory belong to God alone. When we worship something other than Him, He is jealous of something that should rightfully be His.

Again, we can ask the same questions we asked yesterday.

  • What do I spend my time doing?
  • What would others say my most important things were?
  • If someone told me I was putting that thing on a higher level than God, what would my reaction be?
  • What would putting this thing above God look like in my world?

God wants and deserves our allegiance and worship. He alone is worthy.

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Act 1: Moses and the Israelites

And God spoke all these words:

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:1-3

When He finally had Moses’ attention, the Lord begins to lay down the 10 commandments, the most important of which was the first. That fact will be more apparent as the days linger on in the desert. Some have even suggested that if you kept this commandment, all the others would fall into place.

Of course He meant the physical idols that people literally bowed down to worship.

But there’s also a much broader application of the term to mean anything that you put ahead of God. In our age it could be sports, money, fame, relationships, works, self-righteousness, art, culture, work, government, education, science, or any other topic you put ahead of God.

The Lord knew that we have a tendency to elevate the things of this world to a higher status than they deserve, but He also showed us the standard, Him.

Some times it’s best to step back and take an audit of the things we truly care about to see if we’re displacing God with that thing. It’s difficult to know because we care about it a lot, and it’s hard to be objective about it.

Still, we could ask ourselves a few questions:

  • What do I spend my time doing?
  • What would others say my most important things were?
  • If someone told me I was putting that thing on a higher level than God, what would my reaction be?
  • What would putting this thing above God look like in my world?

All of the commandments were written for us as much as they were for Moses and the Israelites. The first merely sets the stage for the remaining nine.

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The Lord Descended; What a Savior!

20 The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21 and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.”

23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.'”

24 The Lord replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.”

25 So Moses went down to the people and told them. Exodus 19:20-25

I found the first verse in this passage amusing, and informative. “The Lord descended onto Mt. Sinai.”

It’s quite the opposite of what man has to do, and still does to this day to “reach” God.

But God made it incredibly easy for man; He came to us just as He came to Moses.

What more can you say on this Valentine’s Day, the day of love?

God so loved us that He came down to meet us on our level. That is such a powerful concept.

“But why, but why,” you ask.

Because that’s just who He is. That was the character of God shining through. No man or book can explain it. It was just in His character to meet us on our turf.

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Something Big on the Horizon

16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.

17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. Exodus 19:16-19

In dramatic fashion, the Lord called the Israelites toward the mountain. They knew something big was about to happen. They knew they wouldn’t be able to see God. Just reading this, though, you can feel the tension as they approached. At first it was a loud trumpet sound and then it got louder. Then the mountain shook. Unfortunately they’d only get a second hand account of what God had told Moses, but they would be there to experience everything surrounding it.

As the digital age continues to expand with artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and questionable bioethics (editing human DNA or Crispr), we get a sense that something big is about to happen in the spiritual world. When man started cloning experiments on animals (Dolly the Sheep in 1996), I believed that we weren’t far from the end. It was as if a mountain was shaking before us. We didn’t know what it meant at the time, but something big was on the horizon. It’s only gotten worse.

Certainly something big is on the horizon for Believers. We may have to live through some dark times to get there, but it awaits us, much like the Lord waited for Moses to make his way up Mt. Sinai.

Take heart and be of good cheer.

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