The late evangelist D. L. Moody had a sharp temper which he learned to
control—sometimes. One evening Moody was conducting two evangelistic services
back-to-back. After the first one, as Mr. Moody was standing near the door,
welcoming the new crowd, a man approached him and delivered a highly
offensive insult of some sort. Moody never later repeated it, but it must have
been something that pushed his button for in a sudden fit of anger, Moody
shoved the man and sent him tumbling down a short flight of steps.
The man was not badly harmed, but Moody’s friends wondered how he could
now possibly preach the second service. “When I saw Mr. Moody give way to his
temper,” said an observer, “I said to myself, ‘The meeting is killed.’ The large
number who have seen the whole thing will hardly be in a condition to be
influenced by anything more Mr. Moody can say tonight.”
But Moody called the meeting to order, stood, and with trembling voice spoke
these words: Friends, before beginning tonight I want to confess that I yielded
just now to my temper, out in the hall, and have done wrong. Just as I was
coming in here tonight, I lost my temper with a man, and I want to confess my
wrong before you all, and if that man is present here whom I thrust away from me
in anger, I want to ask his forgiveness and God’s. Let us pray.
“Do not murder.”
We are continuing our series on the Ten Commandments and today we are going to focus on Commandment 6. This commandment is pretty straight forward and is one commandment that even unbelievers will agree with. I would venture to say that we ALL know that murder is wrong. Sometimes people get into arguments over what this sixth commandment actually means. At the surface it says what it says… “Do not murder.” But one of the most common questions asked is, what is the difference between killing and murdering? I will talk about this in a few moments. However, my purpose today is not to spend time trying to justify the differences between murdering and killing, but mostly to spend time looking at how this commandment is intended help us love our neighbors and live God-honoring lives.
The sixth commandment is easy to remember, in fact it is just three simply words… “DO. NOT. MURDER.” Seems like a straight forward commandment doesn’t it? However, when we begin reading the Bible it only takes four chapters before this commandment (which wasn’t technically a commandment yet) to be broken.
Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Both brothers were hard workers… Cain was a worker of the ground and Abel was a shepherd. We are told that both brothers brought offerings to the Lord. The sacrificial system had not been established yet so we are uncertain as to why they gave offerings. Cain is mentioned first as bringing an offering of fruit from the ground and Abel brings an offering of his flock (animal sacrifice). We are not told why specifically but Abel’s sacrifice had regard (favor) with God and Cain’s offering God had no regard (unacceptable).
Genesis 4:5 says, “Cain was FURIOUS and he looked despondent.” Cain was angry with God! He was furious and could be translated as Cain “burned with anger.” He harbored bitterness towards God and his brother in his heart.
The Lord asked Cain why he was so angry… not because he didn’t know but he was giving Can the opportunity to openly confess to God his sin that was lurking in his heart. God was challenging Cain to step back and look at his heart and make the necessary changes to do right. God basically says Cain has a choice to make… “If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted?” God mercifully challenges Cain by telling him he does not need to be angry.
God says, “Sin is crouching at the door” – This imagery is vivid, and it is of an animal waiting to pounce its prey. God was saying if Cain continues to harbor anger in his heart this sin will overtake him and ultimately dominate him. “Its desire is for you…” The word “desire” is the same word used in God’s curse on the woman when he says, “your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.” This desire will all consuming and it will have control and power over Cain if he does not subdue it. God gives Cain the opportunity and the ability to take control of his sin.
Apparently, Cain does not heed God’s warning or challenge. Genesis chapter 4: 8 says, “And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” We are not told how the crime was committed and I don’t think it really matters, but we are told the end result was Abel is murdered by his brother.
Now, as we read this account, I think it is safe to say that what Cain did was wrong. Cain murdered his brother in cold blood. The sixth commandment, which would not be established until centuries later, prohibits the taking of innocent human life. And I have established that most people would agree with the sixth commandment because it is right to respect innocent human life.
The sixth commandment tells us that we should all value the sanctity of life from conception until death. All life is precious to God and we have no right to murderously take an innocent life no matter how young or old. We are created in God’s image, we are his image bearers so this gives us the call and duty to be protectors and preservers of life here on earth.
So, what is all the hub bub bub? Do not murder… what more do I need to say? Why not skip over this one and move to commandment seven?
The Heart of the Murder
Well, let’s go back to Genesis 4 and the story of Cain and Abel for a moment. Why was God displeased with Cain’s offering? Some believe, and I agree with them, that God’s response to their offerings was not so much in response to what was given, but how it was given. The issue was his heart. The text suggests that Abel gave an offering out of worship and Cain gave out of duty. According to 1 John 3:12 Cain’s deeds were evil and this is apparent (and actually written) because Cain became angry with God because God didn’t accept his offering and he acted on his anger as well. God knew he was angry as it was apparent with his facial expression (“Why do you look despondent?”).
Cain’s heart was not right. His heart was filled with anger, bitterness, and jealousy. We know this because he acted on the desires of his heart. his heart was blackened with murderous thoughts, jealousy, fury and eventually acted on them thus murdering his brother.
This is where things begin to get interesting and the reason why we can’t casually read over commandment 6 and move on. Why is that? Because murder is not just a physical act is it also an issue of the heart and I believe we need to get to the heart of the murder.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:21 – 22, “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder,[a] and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. 22 But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults[c] his brother or sister, will be subject to the court, Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire.”
Did you hear that? Jesus has just taken one of the most agreed upon commandments and takes it to the next level. He says that not only is murder wrong, but so is anger against your brother or sister.
In fact, John the Apostle takes it even a step further when he writes in I John 3:15, “Everyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” Simple translating… If you hate someone, then you have murdered them.
Our hearts are deceitful and wicked and Jesus tells us, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Did you catch that? Out of the heart comes MURDER.
This means that not only is it wrong to take the life of another innocent person, but it is wrong to harbor hatred, anger, and bitterness in our hearts toward then. All life is precious and how we treat, and value people matters.
I love this quote from J.I. Packer, “The commandment rests on the principle that human life is holy, first because it is God’s gift and second because man bears God’ image. Human life is thus the most precious and sacred thing in the world, and to end it, is God’s prerogative alone. We honor God by respecting his image in each other, which means consistently preserving life and furthering each other’s welfare in all possible ways.”
So, what is our takeaway in response to commandment 6?
The absolute opposite of murder is love. When we show Christ-like love to those who love us, hate us or are indifferent to us we are fulfilling the Great commandment of Jesus Christ and thus bringing honor to God’s name.
Loving the loveable is easy for the most part. But loving the unlovable can be difficult and we can ONLY do this by the grace of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
As we close today, I encourage you to check your heart. Are you harboring anger, bitterness, rage, jealousy, hostility, or the list goes on in your heart? Take some time and allow God to soften your heart and allow Jesus to transform your heart. It is in Jesus that we are able to lay sin-filled hearts upon him. If your heart is not right with God today, I want to beg you to allow Jesus to work on you and transform your heart into a heart that beats with love, compassion, and in tune with Him.
Children are a blessing from God and the responsibility of parenting is a privilege that should not be taken lightly. I love my children so much and as their father I pray for, love, discipline and instruct them in the ways of the Lord. As a father these are the joyous responsibilities I have. Is it easy? Not always. Am I always faithful in parenting the proper way? Unfortunately, I am not. I am human and flawed but I do rely the power and the grace of the Holy Spirit in my life to help me to be the best parent God intends for me.
I remember back in 2000 when my daughter Micaiah was born, and I experienced a special kind of love and connection with another human that I had never experienced before. The idea of being a parent scared the daylight out of me and I had no clue what to expect in raising a daughter better yet with all four of my children. I did and do know, however that I along side my wife have the joyful responsibility to raise our children to be respectful, kind and followers of Jesus Christ. We as parents also have the privilege of being our children’s provider, protector, instructor and examples. Ultimately I (nor can any person) force my children to love God and become followers of Christ. The only thing I can do is instruct, pray and show them by example Jesus in my life.
Parenting can be one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs in life. If any of you are parents, you know exactly what I am talking about. Unfortunately, Children do not come with instruction manuals. There are certainly numbers of books, workshops and programs that can help a person to parent, but we ultimately know there is no one specific way to parent a child because each child is unique.
Today we are continuing our series on “The 10 Commandments”. Today I will talk about commandment 5 and I am certain all parents have quoted this one to their children thousands of times.
“Honor your father and mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”
Parents and Children
Now, before I talk about children and being obedient to parents, I would like to talk a few minutes about parenting. Parenting has changed over the years, decades, and centuries. The way you and I parent is most likely very different than the ways our parents parented us, and our children will most likely parent differently than we parented them. Here are two examples, one taken from ancient Jewish culture and the other from the Greco-Roman world. In both the Jewish and Greco-Roman world honoring parents was second only to honoring God. In fact, some writers said parents were like gods to their children. Honoring parents was expected as an ethical starting point, an expectation New Testament writers shared.
The power of fathers was almost unlimited in the Greco-Roman world. They determined whether a newborn baby had the right to live or die, and many baby girls in particular were abandoned to die. Fathers could and did sell their children, especially girls, into slavery. They could punish them as harshly as they wished, work them hard, or even put them to death. Ecclesiastes 30:1 – 30 is representative of attitudes in the ancient world: A father who loves his child will whip him and beat him often while he is still a child. A father should not pamper his son, play with him or share in his laughter.
Fortunately, this type of parenting is not tolerated today (but unfortunately this kind of abuse still exists in some families).
Read Ephesians 6:1 – 4
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, 3 so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land 4 Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
I would be interested to know how many of you have ever quoted the first part of this passage to your children? I know I have. I usually say it when my children are being naughty, disrespectful or disobedient. This is probably one of the most quoted passages in the Bible concerning the relationship between a parent and a child. It is a challenging passage to teach because it says so little about parenting but we like to use it as the foundation of our parenting; but beneath the surface we can see (with a little digging) that it also has a lot to say about the parent child relationship as well. What I have found is that it can point us in the right direction of what parenting can and should look like.
Verse 1 - 3: In the previous passage Paul has established the order of the marriage relationship. He spoke to both husbands and wives and gave them instructions on the roles each plays in the marriage relationship. In the passage we are looking at today he continues his instruction as he continues to talk about the family unit and speaks directly to children and parents.
He begins by addressing children and commanding them to obey and honor their fathers and mothers. Why is child to be obedient to his parents? Obedience is necessary because “it is right”. From a Christian perspective God commands children to be obedient because it is a sign of their relationship with Jesus. At ground level a child must be obedient simply because as the anonymous ancient author who goes by the name Ambrosiaster writes, “(children) must obey their parents because they derive their existence from them. It is therefore just that they should show respect to the people from whom they originate.” However we can see at a deeper level Paul is speaking to children but also to parents as well. It is important to point out that before our children can be obedient they need to be instructed. As fathers and mothers we have the responsibility to bring children up in the Lord and it is equally important that both father and mother be united in effort to bringing up our children. In Proverbs 6:20 – 21 children are exhorted “keep their father’s commandments” and “not forsake their mother’s teaching.” This ultimately leads to the parent leading a child in the ways of God; to teach and instruct in the ways of the Lord (the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom). As parents our role is not to be a slave driver imposing our will on our children. We are called to love, instruct, pray and lead our children in the ways of the Lord. As we lovingly lead as parents the response of a child is obedience because as the parents are allowing Christ to lead as the head of them they trust that the parents are leading them in truth in love.
Not only should this result in obedience but also honor. Honor basically means that you are ascribing to your parents respect and worth. Just so you know the extent of how important God views the command of honoring parents we read in Deut. 21:18 – 21 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” This is some serious stuff. Now, I do not believe this was a regular practice of the Jews, but it certainly set the guidelines for establishing what it means to dishonor your parents.
Thankfully this civil commandment is no longer practices since today obedience and honor are not something that kids readily show to their parents. In fact, it seems the opposite is the case. I have heard how some children speak to or treat their parents and honestly I am appalled the children speak and treat their parents the way they do AND that the parent allows this disrespect to exist. If you don’t believe me, I would invite you to come to the school some day and observe. I work at a Christian school and I hear kids talking back, slandering, yelling at and even swearing at their parents. I have also seen children hit their parents, speak disrespectfully to them and basically walking all over them and the parent does little to nothing in response (I have also witnessed parents doing the same to their children and it is no wonder they act the way they do). Maybe I am old fashioned but this is not how God established the parent/child relationship.
Kids, God has established your parents over you, and He has entrusted you to them to bring you up in the ways of the Lord. I know there are times when you may think your mom or dad is just trying to make your life miserable (and that they actually enjoy this) but God has clearly given them the responsibility to train and instruct you in the ways of God. We may be fallible (or sinners) but God has given us the mandate to be the ones to help you to grow into young men and women who know Jesus and walk according to his ways. Like I said, we can’t impose this relationship with Jesus on you, this is your decision to make. We can only point you in the direction you need to go.
Verse 4: No Paul turns to the parents (he speaks mainly to fathers but it is implied that mothers are included as well). Do not provoke your children to wrath. What does this mean? H.A. Ironside writes in his commentary on Ephesians, “As Christian parents, have in mind your children’s well-being. Do not be needlessly demanding of them, do not lay upon them burdens that are too hard for them to bear, for remember, as children have the Lord Jesus as their example, you have God himself as your.” It calls for the parent (more specifically fathers) to be even tempered with their children. We are to never discipline out of anger and rage. We are not to be so overly critical of our children that we tear them down and crush their spirit. We are to lovingly discipline and instruct as to encourage and build up our children. As frustrated as I can get with my children at times I will never physically harm my children but this is not to say that I won’t correct them lovingly. Ambrosiater gives a great reminder to parents, “Parents ought to teach their children by showing them an example of moderation, so children will choose what is best for them. Parents ought to remember that they were once children themselves and did not want to be provoked by their own parents… so each of them should treat the other in the way they want to be treated themselves.” 
So, what is the point and purpose of commandment five and how can we practice it well today? First, and foremost I do not believe that this commandment is intended to give permission for or accept abuse in any shape way or form, nor is it for parents to dominate and treat their children harshly. I do believe it is a commandment that promotes honor and obedience to our parents which in turn glorifies our God in heaven.
Now, I know that being a “good kid” may not be the norm in our society today, but it certainly should be the “norm” in the church today. God has given clear instructions to children (honor your father and mother) and for parents (do not provoke to wrath) and when we follow these instructions we can live our lives honoring and glorifying our true Father who is in Heaven, this my friends is a great place for us to start.
 Snodgrass, Klyne. (1996). The NIV Application Commentary: Ephesians, p.325. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Books.
 Bray, Gerald L., (2009) Ancient Christian Texts: Commentaries on Galatians – Philemon (Ambrosiaster), p. 59. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press Academic.
 Ironside, H.A. (1981). Galatians & Ephesians (In The Heavenlies), p. 294. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers
 Bray, Gerald L., (2009) Ancient Christian Texts: Commentaries on Galatians – Philemon (Ambrosiaster), p. 60. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press Academic.
There are twenty-four hours in a day or 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds in a day. What we do with those hours varies from person to person. Some spend most of their time working a job, going to school, caring for the children, volunteering or work around the house. For some of us there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in a day to accomplish all that needs to be accomplished. We are all busy doing one thing or another. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with all the work I have to do, but honestly working and staying busy comes pretty naturally for me.
Sometimes I feel as though I am too busy, and I do not get the rest I need. Stephen Covey wrote, “People expect us to be busy and over worked. It has become a status symbol in our society – if we’re busy, we’re important; if we are not busy then we are embarrassed to admit it. Busyness is where we get our security. It’s validating, popular and pleasing. It’s also a good excuse for not dealing with the first things in our lives.” This is so true about society today.
Now, don’t get the wrong impression that hard work is bad, in fact it is the opposite true. Work is essential and work is good. I thank God for the work I am blessed to do. Because of work I am able to provide for my family and fulfill my God-given call. Work is a blessing from God. God established work. He ordained it in Eden when he placed man and woman in the garden to care for, maintain and inhabit. I believe work was created to be pleasant, joyful and fulfilling. The problem with work came with the introduction to sin.
Rest on the other hand is another issue altogether. Preaching a message about rest is very difficult for me. Why? Because I don’t really know how to truly rest. Rest has almost become a dirty four-letter word. Unfortunately, some of you are like me and rest does not come very easy… I believe we can’t rest because we don’t want to, BUT because we don’t set aside time for it, value it or tell ourselves resting is a bad thing. Did you know that rest is one of the key themes of the Bible? Genesis begins with rest, the Psalmists write about rest, and Jesus talks about entering his rest. Rest, like work, is a gift from God and today I am going to talk about rest and the Sabbath.
We are continuing our series on the Ten Commandments. For the past few weeks, we have looked at the overall purpose of the ten commandments and I talked about what they were and were not. The commandments were not given as a means to make us holy and righteous, but instead they were given as a way to reveal our sin nature and our inclination for rebellion against God. So far, we have looked at the first three commandments and I am going to continue today with Commandment 4.
Ex. 20:8 -11: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: 9 You are to labor six days and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female servant, your livestock, or the resident alien who is within your city gates. 11 For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.”
Before I delve into the fourth commandment, I think it is important to go back to Genesis and understand what the Sabbath is and then determine why it is important for us today.
Q: Why do we need rest? A: Because God modeled rest for us.
Q: What is rest? Is it lying around lazily and doing nothing or is there more to it?
Vs 1, 2: On the seventh day God’s work was finished. It was complete. Everything He set out to do was finished and then we are told He rested. There is no implication that God dropped everything and went into cruise mode or vegged out for a day. I like the NET Bibles translation for the word “rested” which is “ceased”. The Hebrew word for rest is “shabbat” which is where we get the word Sabbath. I should note, God’s rest was not a result of exhaustion or because he was tired, but it was a ceasing, finishing or completing his work of creation. On the seventh day God had Sabbath. This does not mean simply ceasing work just to pick it up again, but it means being satisfied with what He had done and considered these things complete. So, the real question is, if God rested, shouldn’t we? God rested on the seventh day, but the author/narrator clearly implies that (humanity), made in the divine image, is expected to copy his Creator.
Sabbath – We read about the Sabbath throughout the Old and New Testament. Sabbath simply means to stop from ordinary work and from your normal activity. It does not mean to stop all things and lay around mindlessly watching sports, eating junk food and not showering.
Exodus 20:8 – 11 gives specific. details about the day of Sabbath.
Rest: A Biblical Perspective
So, what does rest look like? We need not look any further than the Bible. Before I begin, I want to reiterate that there is a distinct difference between resting and laziness. The author of Proverbs writes negatively about the person who is lazy and does not work. In fact, the Bible never talks positively about laziness. Laziness and rest are clearly two opposing ideas.
In the Psalms rest is synonymous to being still or waiting.
Psalm 46:10 is one of my favorite passages and I think is one of the best passages that defines rest. “Be still and know that I am God.” The words “be still” means to cease or stop… Stop those things causing you burden… things like worry, hard labor, frustration, anxiety, planning etc… just stop and trust God. “Be still” could also be defined as have peace of mind. Rest have your mind at ease because God is in control.
Psalm 37:7 – “Be still before the Lord and wait…” Stop! Wait! Do not fret (worry).
In Luke 10:38 – 42 we are introduced to two sisters Mary and Martha. The sisters had invited Jesus over to their home. When Jesus came Mary sat at his feet and listened to His words and teachings. She was literally resting at the feet of God and basking in His presence. Martha, her sister, on the other hand was running around the house like a chicken with her head cut off. She was making sure the house was clean, cooking the meal, setting the table kind of acting like some of you when preparing for guests or a family Thanksgiving dinner. Eventually Martha had had enough. She approaches Jesus and says, “Can you see I am killing myself trying to get things ready and my sister, the bum, is just sitting here doing nothing. Could you please tell her to come help me?” She thought that maybe Jesus could convince her sister to help around the house a bit. Do you know what Jesus’ response was? I can assure you it wasn’t what Martha wanted to hear… Luke 10:41, 42: “The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.’” He was saying to Martha, “Stop being a busy body, your sister has chosen what important, spending time with me, and I will not take that away from her. Life is too short to be concerned with the little things of this world. Spend your time on things that really matter.” Now get this. Jesus was not saying Martha was wrong, he was just letting her know at this very moment of time I am (God himself) here with you so, rest and worship. We’ll get to the other things (the meal) later, right now… Stop. Wait. Rest in the Lord.
Matthew 11:28 – 30: Is probably one of the most well-known passages that deals with rest. Jesus teaches that true rest comes from him. If you are weary, tired, stressed, exhausted, and overwhelmed with life, then come to Jesus and in him you will find rest. Jesus says to put our burdens on him and when we do our souls will find rest. This is a promise for future rest and a promise for rest today.
Many of you are stressed, overworked, burdened or full of work related (whatever that work is) anxiety. Your minds are racing, your heart (spiritual and even physical) is heavy and unhealthy, and you have a hard time ceasing from work activity. You may be thinking right now, “I wish he would hurry up and conclude because I have a ton of things I have to do today.” Stop. Wait. Rest in Lord.
Since we no longer live under OT rule and law because Jesus came and fulfilled the law, the what does Sabbath look like for us today? I believe first and foremost we should continue to take a day of rest from our usual work and activity; and the rest should involve worship. Gathering today together to worship is participation in and observing the Sabbath. The point of the (Sabbath) day is to “stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another”  Resting in the presence of the Lord through worship, fellowship, prayer and communion is primarily what a Sabbath should look like. The irony is that we don’t stop working on the Sabbath… Things still need to be done (at home and in the church). Meals need to be cooked, dishes washed, lawns mowed… Children led during the Sunday School hour, babies need to be watched in the Nursery, music needs to be played etc. These should not be burdensome, and I understand that sometimes they DO become burdensome. However, when they do we need to cast that burden on to God and he will give you the strength and joy you need to complete it for his glory.
I conclude with this marvelous quote from Tim Keller who sums up nicely what Sabbath means for us today, “Only Jesus offers you a 'finished work' to rest in. In fact, the very definition of a Christian is not just someone who admires Jesus, emulates Jesus, or obeys Jesus. A Christian is someone who ‘rests in his finished work’ instead of your own. Remember, God was only able to rest in Gen. 2:1-3 because his work was finished. A Christian is someone who knows that it would be quite all right if he or she died tonight. You've already finished your work--everything that actually has to happen within your lifetime has happened. The rest is gravy, icing. Gravy and icing are quite tasty, of course--but not absolutely necessary.”
Because of Jesus our work is finished. We can rest today because of the finished work of Jesus. And yes, we also labor and toil day after day but our final rest… our eternal rest is found in Jesus and I can rest in that.
 New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. 1994 (D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham, Ed.) (4th ed.) (Ge 2:1–3). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
 Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (Ge 2:1). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
 Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (Ge 2:1). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
Exodus 20:1 - 17
We are continuing our series on the Ten Commandments. For the past couple of weeks, we have looked at the overall purpose of the ten commandments and I talked about what they were and were not. The commandments were not given as a means to make us holy and righteous, but instead they were given as a way to reveal our sin nature and our inclination for rebellion against God. Thus, when we have a proper view of the law, or the 10 Commandments, they should bring us to our knees and point us to our great need for a savior found in Jesus Christ. At the core they show us that we cannot reach perfection and we cannot keep the commands perfectly.
The first commandment warns of worshiping the wrong god (there are no gods besides me) He is the ONLY God; He is not one of many gods and He certainly is not the greatest of multiple gods. No, He is one God and there are no other gods except for Him. The second commandment warns against worshiping God in the wrong way. This includes imagining the true God as like yourself or something lower. This means we have the tendency to make God into something of our own limited understanding, likeness, or ability to control. Today I will talk about the third commandment and it warns against irreverently misusing and abusing God’s Holy name.
What’s So Important About a Name?
Our names identify who we are on a personal level, but over time our name embodies who we are. If you have known me for a period of time and you hear the name “Jeff Holton” you would immediately have a mental picture of my physical appearance and probably associate my name with a characteristic or personality trait I have. The mention of my name could bring a positive, negative or indifferent response. Really names trigger positive or negative responses all the time. When I mention the names Charles Manson, Adolph Hitler, or David Koresh they would probably trigger negative responses and thoughts in your mind. But when I mention Mickey Mouse, Mother Theresa, or Martin Luther King Jr. they probably trigger a positive response or thought.
So, what’s the big deal about names? For parents, choosing a name for a child can be sort of a big deal and sometimes a daunting task. I remember with our first daughter, Carrie and I would spend countless hours talking about, researching, and debating over the name of our first daughter. Truth be told this was a long process for all of our children. We wanted our children’s names to have a biblical significance and meaning to them, honor a loved one, be unique and not start with the same letter as anyone else in the immediate family.
So really our names are precious, which is why we don’t like our names ridiculed, twisted or made fun of. I remember a nickname that was given to me as a teenager that I wasn’t overly fond of. I have always been a big boned boy (at least that’s what my mother said) so I have been on the heavy side for most of my life and having the name Holton doesn’t bode well with being fat… You know Whole Ton… As in Jeff weighs a Whole Ton! Yeah, kids can be mean. But the nicer ones would call me “Half ton”. I honestly don’t miss my teenage years. But, before you go and say, “Poor Jeff people made fun of his name,” I had my fair share of name calling myself.
On the other hand, sometimes we give cute or fun nicknames to one another as terms of endearment or surnames. Ultimately our names do not define us, they identify us. However, this is not the case with God.
“Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God, because the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20:7)
The LORD’s Name
I have spent some time talking about the importance of names and how they describe us yet do not define us. God’s name is different, His name is who He is. Let’s go back to Exodus 3 when Moses encounters God in the desert. It is in the encounter that God commissions Moses to be the one to lead the Israelites out of captivity. Moses says, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What should I tell them?” God tells Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” God also tells Moses, “The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation." In this passage God gives Moses His proper name “LORD”. Whenever you see the word LORD in all capital letters, you know that this is referring to the proper name of the GOD. In Hebrew, the name had four letters YHWH ( (which is called the tetragammaton: which means “four letters” יקוק yodh, he, waw, he) and the widely excepted pronunciation is Yahweh. This pronunciation was almost lost because Jews considered it so holy that they replaced its vowels with those of other divine names. The Jews came to respect this word with such reverence that they would not speak the name because they did not want to unintentionally take the name in vain. So, whenever they came to this name in their reading, they pronounced the word adonai which means my lord. The English versions have basically followed the same pattern. They translate the proper name Yahweh with the word LORD in all caps.
We see the name of God is LORD (YHWH) and that gives Him a title, but how does this name define Him?
Read Exodus. 34:5 – 7
The Lord came down in a cloud, stood with him there, and proclaimed his name, “the Lord.” 6 The Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed:
The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, 7 maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.”
The LORD is…
Misusing the name of the Lord…
This brings up the question, “What are the consequences for profaning or misusing the name of the LORD?”
According to the Levitical law for the nation of Israel one should be put to death for misusing the name of the LORD. Thankfully this law does not apply today because it was a civil law given to the nation of Israel. However, the law does show the severity of breaking this law.
We have already established that we are not under the law but under grace, so how is it that we dishonor or profane the name of the LORD today. Here are four ways.
As I conclude this message today, I want to challenge you to pray today, as you reflect on the holiness, sovereignty and greatness of our God, and determine do your words, worship, and actions bring honor or dishonor to our great and mighty God? I will warn you that if you do accept the challenge, you will be convicted (we all will) and you must determine in your heart today, am I going to commit to living my life to bring honor to God’s name in my home, workplace, and neighborhood.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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