So the (11th?) commandment is to not profane His name. How might I do that? What we normally think of is using His name as a common expletive, as discussed in the intro. The stereotypical teenaged girl for whom everything is OMG this and OMG that is profaning His name by treating it as a common interjection. Worse is using it as a common profanity or curse.
I once worked with a guy at Publix who used “Jesus” as a curse every time something went wrong. I finally said to him, “You know, one of these days He’s going to answer you.” He gave me a wry look, but didn’t slow up a bit. Another example that comes to mind is the lyrics to “Freebird” by Lynard Skynard. They use “Lord” (another designation for God) throughout the song as aural space filler. Listen to the song and in place of Lord, just hum or sing “OOOh” and it doesn’t change the semantic meaning of the song one bit. They’ve literally taken a designation for God from its exalted position and turned it into background noise! That is profaning (making common) the name of the Lord.
But we can also profane His name by how we live our lives. Bear with me for a moment. Start with the idea that a name isn’t just the designation of an individual. It is also the reputation or renown that is attached to the name. What do you think of when you hear the name Donald Trump? Or Douglas MacArthur? Or Babe Ruth? The reputation/renown that is conjured at the mention of those men is part of their Names. In fact, Hebrew uses the same word for both name and renown.
And God worked to ensure that His name carried a certain renown with it. Ex. 9:16 “but in very deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, to show thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.” Is. 63:12-14 “that caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses? that divided the waters before them, to make himself an everlasting name? . . . so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.” In the first passage, He made Pharaoh to stand so He could work great plagues against Egypt and make a name for Himself. In the second, His power is displayed to make a great name. In fact, in my study of the use of His name throughout the Bible, I discovered that almost every time we read of God doing something “for His name’s sake,” He is either fulfilling the covenant that His name is attached to or He is doing something to enhance His reputation. To increase His renown. So, God cares greatly for the reputation conveyed with His name.
Now, remember that God’s followers wear His name. There are multiple passages which point this out. Dan 9:19 “. . .because thy city and thy people are called by thy name.” Doesn’t get much clearer, does it? How about Matt 28:19? “. . .baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Notice, it doesn’t say “in the name of”, which would imply ‘by the authority of’, but rather “into the name of” which shows that believers have been brought into the family of God, into His name. Finally, in John’s heavenly visions at the end of Revelation, God’s people literally wear His name: Rev. 22:4 “and they shall see his face; and his name shall be on their foreheads.”
So we, as Christians, wear His name, literally, since “Christian” comes from “Christ”. If we do not live according to His way while wearing His name, we profane His name. His renown is damaged by his putative followers. Lev. 18:21 “And thou shalt not give any of thy seed to make them pass through the fire to Molech; neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am Jehovah.” Here we see it clearly stated that the actions of God’s followers can profane His name. By sacrificing children to an idol-god, they would be harming God’s renown.
Another instance is after David’s sin with Bathsheba. He had been forgiven, but Nathan told David that one of the punishments for that sin would be that his child with Bathsheba would die. Here is the explanation: 2 Sam. 12:14 “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.” David was known as a man after God’s own heart. When a man linked to God in such a close way sinned like he did, it naturally heaped shame on God, too. It gave occasion to God’s enemies.
This idea exists in the New Testament too. Rom. 2:23 “thou who glories in the law, through thy transgression of the law dishonors thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you, even as it is written.” Paul sums up the idea: 2 Tim. 2:19 “. . . Let everyone that names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness.”
So, Mr. Christian who would never take the Lord’s name in vain, are you profaning His name by the way you live your life? (That question steps on my toes!) We will finish our discussion tomorrow.