God’s name is to be revered among His people. “Yahweh,” and every name and description related, holds great significance.
From his timelessness to his holiness, from his wisdom to his power, the names and descriptions – such as, ‘El ‘Olam, ‘El Shaddai, ‘El ‘Elyon, and Yahweh – reveal the character and nature of the Divine.
The faithful Jews under the law given by Moses were careful not to misuse or abuse the name of their Creator. The third commandment prohibited the vain use of the Name, “For the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7b).
Such blasphemy was punished with the forfeiture of life. In Leviticus 24, we find an incident of a young male Israelite, from the tribe of Dan, who blasphemed “the Name.” His punishment was death by stoning (Leviticus 24:11-16). The punishment was swift and strong.
This law applied to all, even those who were not under covenant with God. “Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death” (Leviticus 24:16).
Eventually many God-fearing Jews simply stopped using “the Name” altogether. This extreme stance was as unnecessary as all the other hedges they placed around the Law. However, it does demonstrate the steps they were willing to take in order to not bring dishonor to the glorious Name.
The name of God is used recklessly by many. It is employed in frustration, anger, and amazement. It is combined with cursing or used in idle oaths. Many who claim to follow Christ employ the Savior’s name in similar ways.
All that happened in prior ages, happened so that we might learn (1 Corinthians 10:11). We are expected now to take those instructions and grow – to be fully mature in our thinking (Hebrews 5:14), and in our actions. Jesus warns us as to the idle use of words (Matthew 12:36, 37). Surely vain usage of the Name would fall under that condemnation.
Why then do we struggle so with misuse and abuse of the name of our Sustainer and Savior? Perhaps it is that the warnings fall on deaf ears. Perhaps the influence of the world is too strong. Or perhaps it is that we have failed to fully realize the beauty and holiness of the Maker’s Name, and failed to fully appreciate the connection “the Name” has with the Deity it describes.
Take a moment and contemplate passages such as Psalm 72:17, 19; Psalm 113:2, Daniel 2:20, and Nehemiah 9:5 ff. Contemplate the power and purity, the greatness and glory of the Name. Be moved to greater reverence.
“Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!” (Psalm 72:19).