By Eric Taylor
Pastor, Cedar Hill Baptist Church, Cedar Hill
Focal Passage: Exodus 20:7-11; Psalm 145:1-7
Most have heard the famous line from Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name?” Well, when it comes to God, it is a big deal. Following the first two commandments prohibiting false worship and idolatry, God rightly turns to His holy name, and tells Israel, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
Now the average Baptist thinks, “Well, I am safe, because I have never taken God’s name in vain.” Most think this means that adding a curse word to God’s name is the only way this commandment is broken. However, keeping the third commandment involves far more than profanity. For example, we may break this command through disingenuous service for God. In other words, we serve “in Jesus’ name,” but out of routine or ritual, instead of serving Christ out of a heart of love and devotion (Philippians 2:3-5).
Another way we break the command is through the misuse or misappropriation of His name. In other words, we use His name or our title as “Christian” for personal advantages. Sometimes a believer misunderstands the will of God, and takes His name in vain, as he or she speaks on God’s behalf, saying, “The Lord spoke to me.” They then proceed to tell you they know the will of God better than you. It is like Eliphaz telling Job that God revealed to him why he was suffering, when Eliphaz had no idea (Job 4:12).
Finally, we may take the Lord’s name in vain when our worship is superficial and phony. Frankly, a lot of what passes for worship in churches today borders on “strange,” or “profane fire” (Leviticus 10).
Immediately following the third command, God then turns to the Sabbath. And if the third commandment is misunderstood, the fourth commandment is more of a challenge. Again, the average Baptist just dismisses this commandment because most Christians now worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, Resurrection Day. So, most think, “Well, this doesn’t apply anymore.” And our simplest answer is, “Well the Sabbath rest of the Old Testament has now become our day of worship, Sunday.”
However, we need to be able to better defend this view. You see, the Law of the Sabbath was a shadow of better things to come (Colossians 2:17). Through Jesus our Sabbath rest is completely realized. Hebrews 4:9-10 says, “There remains . . . a rest [Sabbath] for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself ceased from his works as God did.” In Exodus, keeping of the Law was Israel’s salvation. In Christ we find salvation not by works of the Law but by grace through faith in Christ.
In Exodus, Israel came to the Sabbath and rested. In Christ, we come to the “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew12:1-8), who says, “Come unto Me . . . and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30). In Christ alone we find true Sabbath rest.
Now if all this is true, Psalm 145:1-7 tells us how we honor the Lord. In verses 1-3, it says we honor God through exalting, praising worship. Second, we honor Him by testifying (v. 4) of His “wondrous works” (v. 5), and His “awesome acts” (v. 6). B&R