Can We Take “The LORD’s Name In Vain” Today?

My posts always bring interesting and unexpected responses from readers even when I think they are not controversial. The previous one on the 2012 movie was no different. Here’s the very first reply I received from a reader:

I just received your article about 2012.  I hope you are not recommending the movie.  I read the reviews and that was enough for me.

The Lord’s name is used in vain, 20 times. I cannot imagine that He would want me to go, pay money, and then sit and listen to this.

I don’t mean to sound harsh, I am just soooooooo sick of Christians spending (wasting) their time on such as this.

I too would love to see a good end time movie, but unfortunately the enemy uses them to dull our senses and jade us.

I think this reader is overlooking the ability of movies like this to do the opposite of jading us against end times concerns. Doomsday movies get people contemplating the end of the world, end time prophecy and eventually the Bible. Ironically, even Christians need whatever help they can get to motivate them to finally read the entire Bible (as the statistic that only 5% have done so confirms). In the new My Testimony chapter of my book‘s 7th edition, I recount how the movie The Omen lead a good Catholic boy like me to open the Bible for the first time at age nine. Any movie that can motivate people to open up their Bibles is not a waste of time, in my book.

2012 Uses The LORD’s Name In Vain 20 Times”?

But in this article I want to focus on just one argument the reader makes against the 2012 movie; the claim that the movie breaks the Third Commandment twenty times. It is an interesting story as to why I disagree with that complaint.

I have recounted many times how gaining a major new Bible insight will often cause a domino effect with other understandings you have. This stands to reason because none of us understand the Bible 100% correctly, including myself. We either completely forget or ignore verses that would contradict what we believe or we misunderstand the verses we are aware of.

A great example of this is what happens when you learn about the sacred name. As I covered in my article on sacred names, I found out years ago that God’s name is not LORD or God but a specific four letter name that occurs 6,828 times in the Old Testament. This understanding then lead to a quick and easy proof for discerning (Christian) false prophets.

The Christian understanding of everyday breaking of the Third Commandment also topples once you understand the truth about God’s name. A reader of my sacred name article yesterday asked a question that hints at it:

Do you think this (using any name that we choose) has any thing to do with the 3rd commandment re: taking the name in vain?

may YAHUWAH have mercy on us all, stephanie

Her question refers to the fact that we do not know God’s name for sure so we must all decide what reasonable facsimile we think is closest from our own diligent research. The answer to the question is absolutely not. And as a result, I will show that God’s name is taken zero times in 2012.

What Exactly is “Taking the LORD’s Name in Vain”?

Exodus 20:7 — You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

People today have the idea that saying phrases such as “Jesus Christ!” or “God d*** it!” or other cursing involving Jesus or God in some way is what this commandment is talking about. It is not. To find the correct understanding on the Third Commandment, you must understand it in the context of the Torah given to Ancient Israel which the Ten Commandments are part of.

As my previous article on sacred names explains, Israel was taught God’s actual four letter name, YHWH pronounced something like “Yehovah” (Jehovah is the old English spelling of this when the J was pronounced like Y). They used God’s name for praising (Ps 100:4), blessing (Num 6:23) and even in greeting (Ruth 2:4). The Third Commandment only refers to this word, Yehovah. It does not refer to Yehovah’s titles like “Lord” or “God” or his son’s name (which by the way is not “Jesus Christ” as is used in 2012, anyway. See how the Messiah’s original Hebrew name became mangled as “Jesus”).

We can be sure this is what the Third Commandment is about because Israel was actually commanded to make oaths using God’s name Yehovah exclusively (Dt 6:13).

Dt 6:13 (HCSB) — Fear Yahweh your God, worship Him, and take ⌊your⌋ oaths in His name [Yahweh is a common scholarly best guess of how to pronounce YHWH].

If they did not fulfill their oaths or vows, it was considered swearing falsely and profaning God’s name (Lev 19:12). Once you understand that you can then can see the true meaning of the Third Commandment. For example, here’s what just two commentaries have to say about it:

third commandment. As the second commandment concerned the issue of exercising power over God, the third turns its attention to exercising God’s power over others. This commandment does not refer to blasphemy or foul language. Rather it is intended to prevent the exploitation of the name of Yahweh for magical purposes or hexing. It also continues the concerns of the second commandment in that someone’s name was believed to be intimately connected to that person’s being and essence. The giving of one’s name was an act of favor, trust and, in human terms, vulnerability. Israel was not to attempt to use Yahweh’s name in magical ways to manipulate him. The commandment was also intended to insure that the use of Yahweh’s name in oaths, vows and treaties was taken seriously. — The IVP Bible Background Commentary on Ex 20:7

Taking the Lord’s name in vain (see note on Deut. 5:11) refers primarily to someone taking a deceptive oath in God’s name or invoking God’s name to sanction an act in which the person is being dishonest (Lev. 19:12). It also bans using God’s name in magic, or irreverently, or disrespectfully (Lev. 24:10-16). The Lord revealed his name to Moses (Ex. 3:14-15), and he has continued to identify himself in connection with his acts on Israel’s behalf (see 6:2, 6-8). Yahweh is warning Israel against using his name as if it were disconnected from his person, presence, and power. — ESV Study Bible on Ex 20:7

Conclusion – Today Nobody Can Really Do It

As the Third Commandment was uniquely given to Ancient Israel in the context of other commands on using God’s name, we must realize that it does not directly apply to us today. Today we are scattered believers mostly outside the land of Israel where the Torah applied. We are a different audience in a different situation and it is improper to take all these commands meant for someone else in a different jurisdiction from the distant past and apply them to ourselves.

(Of course, this reasoning does not apply to all Ten Commandments. Most of them are not unique to Israel as they were given earlier to all men.  They are merely repeated in the Torah. For example, whether the Torah applies to us or not, none of us should murder because that moral standard was given in the beginning to Adam. None of us need God to tell us not to steal, commit adultery or bear false witness because other people, society and government will quickly object to that behavior as immoral or unethical.)

There is another major problem with enforcing the Third Commandment today. As my article on the sacred name covered, today there is no prophet like Moses teaching and using God’s name. As a result, nobody knows what God’s name is for sure, or at least how to pronounce it exactly so you can use it. Further, Jesus never reiterated the Third Commandment in his teachings nor left believers any other injunction to use God’s name. (Some would even say he told us not to swear at all citing Matthew 5:34. However, the Hebrew Matthew may preserve a more original reading of Jesus’ words that does not contradict the Torah on this point. For details see Nehemia Gordon’s The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus.)

Once you realize this, it changes your whole perspective on people saying “Jesus Christ” or other similar curses. That is not God’s name, let alone the Messiah’s. If you do not know what God’s name is for sure, and you are not even told to use it, then it is impossible to use it improperly or otherwise. It would be like someone accusing you of running a red light in Israel when you do not even drive nor live in Israel (which may seem like a contrived example, but perfectly describes myself. I have not owned a car for many years and instead use my bike daily in Costa Rica to get around).

Therefore, it no longer offends me to hear people swear with the words “God”, “Jesus Christ”, or “LORD” anymore than other swearing does. I realize now that these people are not breaking the Third Commandment in my presence and I am not complicit to some sin if I do not rebuke them or do not boycott a movie with such language. I still of course do not endorse the use of any profanities (and must always exercise self-control myself when angry in this regard).

I look forward to the day when the Messiah returns and we are all taught to both use and properly swear by (meaning take oaths and vows) God’s exact, actual, glorious, set apart name.

2012 Movie & Bible Prophecy: “Striking” Similarities Article

I went out to see the 2012 movie last week and was so impressed (as a prophecy fan) that I had to write about it. I’ve crafted a new article on website to highlight some similarities between what the movie shows and Bible prophecy. Of course, the 2012 date is complete fiction but this does not stop the movie from having some real value to truth seekers. Check out the new article here on The 2012 Movie and Bible prophecy.

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