July 15, 2021
"Then the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: I made a covenant with your ancestors..."
“Then the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: I made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery, saying: At the end of seven years, each of you must free his Hebrew brother who sold himself to you. He may serve you six years but then you must send him out free from you but your ancestors did not obey Me or pay attention. Today, you repented and did what pleased Me, each of you proclaiming freedom for his neighbor. You made a covenant before Me at the temple called by My name. But you have changed your minds and profaned My name.” Jeremiah 34:12-16a
I love Disneyland. I love the rides, the shows, the parade, the fireworks, and even the food! Another thing I love about Disneyland is how everyone leaves their strollers unattended, rides their rides, and comes back to find everything just as they left it. I don’t know why everyone is so honest at Disneyland, but I guarantee nobody would leave their stroller unattended at the convenience store across the street from Disneyland! It’s like there is some kind of honor code at Disney; people want to believe in a better world. Sadly, much of that community mindset stays at Disney once we leave the parking garage.
There was a time in Israel’s history when they wanted to believe in a better world, one where they obeyed God’s Word. They even made a special covenant with Him. It lasted about a day. They may have been sincere in their desire to follow Him, but in the end, the flesh won over. Their will to follow Him was overridden by their desire to enslave their brothers! The whole scenario is a textbook example of what it looks like when we break the third commandment.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7
The correct understanding of “taking the Lord’s name in vain” has been missed by most people. Quite honestly, many Christians believe that taking the Lord’s name in vain means to use His name as a curse word.
Actually, “taking (or using) the Lord’s name in vain” describes a situation where people declare to have repented, to have become God’s people, bearing His name, yet choose to live as if they still belong to the World. They claim to have received His Name, yet they received it in vain because they never surrendered their trust to Him. His name bears His blessing, and receiving His name is a byproduct of His grace towards our faithfulness when we place our trust in Jesus’ Lordship. (Ephesians 2:8-9) People who receive His name in vain choose to identify themselves as believers yet forfeit the blessing that is only given to the faithful. God cares about our faithfulness, and His blessing is directly related to our decision to follow Him. Sure, our salvation is secured by His faithfulness towards us, by His grace. But, why would we forfeit His blessing just to return to the worldly ways we repented from when we pleaded for His salvation?