“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.“
There are more ways to misuse God’s name than just swearing, and perhaps the most serious way to misuse God’s name is to misrepresent God. Think of all those people who have committed crimes against others in the name of God… Think about all the people that (mis)used the name of God for their own selfish gain… The greatest accusation leveled against the church is that we say we follow Jesus but behave nothing like him – we have not represented God as he truly is, we have not shared the same values that God has… we have misused God’s name.
The God of the Bible is an invisible God, he doesn’t bear any image. In Genesis God entrusts all people to bear his image, that is, to be his representatives. But humanity has failed. So God calls Abram and forms a new community of people to be his representatives, that all the world would look upon them and see what God is like. That’s a lot of pressure. If Israel bears God’s name and misuses that name for their own selfish gain then they will make God look like a fool, and they will show that God is no different from the other false gods of the nations. And that is dangerous.
Unfortunately, Israel failed. And this is what God had to say about it through the prophet Ezekiel [36:22-23]
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.“
- How are you using God’s name?
- Are you representing Jesus as he is?
- What will people think about Jesus when they look at your life?