Recently, while I was doing some research, I came across a website called Judaism 101. At the top, the following phrase caught my eye: Please note that this page contains the name of God. If you print it out, please treat it with appropriate respect.
Oh, how we need this lesson today, and I don’t just mean the heathen out there in the world.
The name of God stands for far more than just what to call Him. It stands for His essence and nature. It represents His history and reputation. And I will sanctify my great Name which has been profaned among the nations, Ezek 36:23. How would you feel if your “good name,” as we speak of this concept, were thrown around carelessly, used in sarcastic movie or book titles, or joked about? Yet it goes much farther than that.
In Judaism, any act that causes God to come into disrespect or a commandment to be broken is often referred to as profaning the name of God. This makes sense when you realize that any good deed we do is spoken of as “sanctifying” or “glorifying” his name. Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven, Matt 5:16. One is just the opposite of the other, and there you have the second way to profane the Name of God—disobey or cause someone else to disobey Him.
Number three hits a little closer to home. The Name of God stands for His Authority. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord, Col 3:17. If a policeman yells out, “Stop in the name of the law,” he is telling you that the law of the land gives him the authority to stop you, and you had better do it or pay the consequences. Too many of my brethren are out there pooh-poohing God’s Authority these days, as if “authority” were a bad word. When you act without God’s authority, you are profaning His Name as surely as if you spoke it in vain. You have no respect for that Authority, nor, thus, for His Name.
The website I mentioned listed several things that orthodox Jews will and will not do in reference to the Name of God. Some of them seem awfully, well, Pharisaic comes to mind. But at least they have the right idea, while we bandy about The Name of God as if it were just any other word, then profane it with careless, or even scornful attitudes, disobey His commands because they don’t suit us, and rationalize our way out of a life of sacrificial service because it’s “too hard” and “makes me feel like a failure.” Disrespecting the authority of God is one and the same as profaning His Name, and conservative fundamentalists take part in it every day. Number three is the scary one because it is so easy to fall into and still think you are just fine because you are so prone to shout Amen and Hallelujah.
God is Holy. His Name is Holy. His essence is Holiness. Anything I say or do that detracts from that Holiness profanes His Name. It can be a careless phrase. It can be downright disobedience. It can be deciding for God what He will and won’t mind. Meditate on that awhile. Stand in awe of a God whose Name is so powerful it created the worlds, and be just a little scared of how you treat it.
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. Psalms 86:8-12