Friday, October 18, 2013

A Fresh Look at the Third Commandment

For a long time, the term OMG has really bothered me.  People would throw His name around so casually!  Haven't they heard the third commandment?  I even wrote a blog post awhile back called "Oh, My Bob!"  (Click here if you feel like reading it).

I must confess, I have been looking at the original language of the third commandment, and have come to realize that the commandment is saying something altogether different than what I have always thought.

(If you think this releases you to run around OMG-ing, please read Ezekiel 36:23, Joel 2:26, and many other places - His name is YHVH and it is HOLY).

The text in question is Exodus 20:7:  You shall not take the name of YHVH your God in vain, for YHVH will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

First, the word translated take.  It means to lift up.  This is the origin of placing one's hand on a Bible in a courtroom and swearing an oath, in the name of God.

Now, let's look at the word translated vain.  It means falsehood; empty lies. 

Putting the two together, we see that this verse is telling us how serious YHVH is regarding the taking of an oath.  This can be confirmed many times in scripture. 

Remember the Gibeonites in Joshua chapter 9?  They dressed themselves up as if they had come from a long way, and tricked the Israelites into making a treaty with them in order to save their hides.  The Israelites made the mistake of not consulting YHVH first.  Later, when they realized that the Gibeonites lived nearby, this is what they had to say:

But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation complained against the rulers.
Then all the rulers said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel; now therefore, we may not touch them.  Joshua 9:18-19

Even rash oaths must be honored.  Are you familiar with Jephthah's rash vow in Judges 11?  He came home from war, and enthusiastically promised YHVH that he would offer the first thing that he saw as a sacrifice.  He did not anticipate that it would be his daughter.  (Biblical scholars differ on the result of Japhtheh's vow).

In Matthew 5, Yeshua reiterated the importance of an oath, to the point of cautioning us not even to do it.  James 5 repeats this caution in verse 12.  But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.

Are you with me so far?  You can search the scriptures and find much more on the importance of oaths.  The Lord God takes them very seriously.

Genesis 26:3 tells of an oath that YHVH swore to Abraham:  Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.  We can go through the book of Genesis and see this promise repeated several times.  Genesis 13:15 reveals that the promise is forever.

Hebrews 6:17 tells us that it is impossible for God to lie. 

Now that Israel is back in the land that was sworn to her by Almighty God so very long ago, there are many who would like nothing more than to see her gone, and her enemies fight tooth and nail to see that happen.   However, their fight is futile... God CANNOT lie.  His purposes WILL go forward, whether people like them or not. 

Israel has endured four major wars, countless minor wars, a media war, and a commerce war (the BDS movement, which stands for Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions against Israel).  None of these things are working for those opposed to Israel.  Zechariah 12:3 warns us "In that day I will make Jerusalem a stumbling block for all people; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth gather against it." 

Ouch.  I don't think it gets much clearer than that. 

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