The Ten Commandments:

3 - You shall Not Take God's Name in Vain

an article based on a sermon

by Jon Bowles

given 9 June 2007

(PLAY FROM START)

In our article entitled "God - The Master Craftsman," I mentioned a clockmaker by the name of John Harrison. He was, in fact, THE clockmaker of all time. I talked about how, in looking at a Harrison clock, the signature of his craftsmanship is stamped all over it. His clocks are ingenious, exquisite, and well-constructed -- works of art. You can recognize the name "John Harrison" just by looking at the design of the clocks themselves.

When we are looking at God and His creation, we find ourselves today looking at something that is destined to be His greatest creation ever. And that creation is the reproducing of Himself! He is actually taking His character -- what He is -- and reproducing it again in His people. It is the greatest thing that He can do.

As we consider the Third Commandment in our series on the Ten Commandments -- that of not taking God's name in vain -- and start to understand the spiritual magnification of it, this command has a great deal to tell us about His name, His signature, what He stands for.

Let us read the actual scriptural passage for the third commandment. Exodus 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the [Eternal] thy God in vain; for the [Eternal] will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

This an example of a particular Hebrew construct where you have a thought; and then you almost repeat that thought, rewording it again. It is something you find continually throughout scripture. Here, you shall not take the name of the Eternal your God in vain.... for the Eternal will not hold someone guiltless who does that.

Notice another meaning of this word "vain." Exodus 23:1 Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.

The word "false" in this verse is the same Hebrew word translated "vain" in Exodus 20:7. We can look at this command worded in another way: "You shall not take the name of the Eternal your God falsely."

We might think that if you just do not swear, if you just do not curse, then you are not breaking this law. We will find, however, as we look into the spiritual principle behind the Third Commandment, in getting into the spiritual magnification of it, that there is much more to the subject than that.

There are three areas in this regard, each divided into two parts as follows:

Respect -- Old Testament

First, let us look at this subject of respect towards God and His name in the Old Testament.

Moses is talking to the One who became Jesus Christ in Exodus 33:13-15 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee.. [Moses is trying to get to know this Being. He had experienced the burning bush and other signs and wonders, and he is trying to know this Individual's character.] ..that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. (14) And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. (15) And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence

In other words, if Your presence is not going with me, then do not take us. We are not going.

Exodus 33:16-20 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. [This is a special people.] (17) And the [Eternal] said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. (18) And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. (19) And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the [Eternal] before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. (20) And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

God gave Moses an insight into what He as a spirit being looked like. Whether it was a glimpse at a totally glorified spirit being as Christ is described in Revelation is doubtful, but Moses was able to at least see a glimpse of His back on that particular occasion.

Exodus 34:6 And the [Eternal] passed by before him, and proclaimed, The [Eternal], The [Eternal] God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth..

But it was not primarily a case of God revealing His glory physically. He was more intent on conveying His character to Moses. That is what describes this Individual in reality. And we know this individual was the Being who later became Christ, for "no man has seen the Father at any time," (John 5:27). This Individual was seen, so it had to be the One who later became Christ.

Exodus 34:7-8 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. (8) And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped [at the sight he saw].

Moses was granted the ability to see this Being as a member of the Godhead. We in God's true Church also come to understand about this Individual in contrast to ourselves. We start to understand our own sin and how utterly incapable we are of changing regarding our sin. All we can do is turn from it and ask God to infuse us with His Spirit so that we can then begin to obey Him and walk in His ways.

In Numbers 20 is the example of Moses, along with Aaron, who had gotten to the "end of his tether." If you have ever tethered goats, there is always something at the end of the tether that the goat wants. It will pull that tether that is holding it back. Moses got to the end of his tether. He got as far as he could go, and that was it. He could go no further.

Numbers 20:10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?

Notice he said, "Must we fetch you water out of this rock?" That was the problem. How can a human being fetch water out of a rock? Ridiculous! But Moses had done this kind of thing so many times before. He had held up his rod, and the waters of the Red Sea had parted. He proclaimed the plagues, and they came. He announced that the manna would come, and it did. He had even brought water out of a rock before.

Numbers 20:11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice... [He probably hit it once and nothing happened, so he hit it again. God had told him to speak to the rock.] ..and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

God backed Moses up, because he was His servant; but then God rebuked him.

Numbers 20:12 And the [Eternal] spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel. therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

This was an incredibly severe pronouncement. Moses had worked all his life -- first as a general in the army in Egypt, then serving his father-in-law Jethro for forty years looking after sheep, in preparation for then serving another forty years with the children of Israel. Now God said, at the end of Moses' life: "No, you are not going in, because you believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel."

It is vitally important that we do not take God's name in vain, that we do not take His name falsely, make it something which is in any way less than what it is. We, members of the true Church of God, need to be very careful, indeed, about how we conduct ourselves, how we approach God, how we go through our daily lives, because we are calling ourselves by His name.

Genesis 11 speaks of those who were trying to make a name for themselves. Genesis 11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

The entire focus of building the Tower of Babel was to have a name, lest they be scattered. It was an attempt at binding people together to become something great. Interestingly, in the next chapter, we see the beginning of God granting human beings a name in the case of His dealings with Abram.

Genesis 12:2 And I will make of thee [Abram] a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

How has Abram's name been made great? Who is Abraham? He is just an individual, a nomad from years gone by. The only reason he is great is because of his association with this Being. It is the fact that the Eternal, the One who became Jesus Christ, worked with Abraham. He will become, as far as we can tell at this time, the second in command under Christ when the Kingdom of God comes to this earth. He will be right under Christ in the God Family, over the entire earth. Abraham's name is certainly great, but it is only because it is associated with the name of God.

Respect -- New Testament

This name of God that we find in Exodus 20, "the Eternal," ("the YHWH"), is not used by the Jews. They refuse to use it in case they somehow take it in vain, turning the whole command on its head. They have done this for so long (since Ezra's and Nehemiah's time, when the Pharisees first emerged) that now nobody knows what the pronunciation of YHWH actually is.

If you go to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem today, you will see the Jews reading their prayers and bobbing up and down continuously. Why are they bobbing up and down? It is just in case they happen to pronounce YHWH in their reading. They will constantly bob up and down to try and forgive the sin of pronouncing YHWH. They are totally missing the point. The spirit of this Law is not there at all.

When we come to the New Testament church and respect for God's name, there is an area that we need to be aware of that you will come across from time to time, that of "sacred names." People will argue that we must only call Jesus or God by their Hebrew names, and even then, pronounced only in a certain way. This "sacred names" concept is still very much around today.

In Acts 17:18 Paul was talking to the people of Athens. "Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection."

The word "gods" that these pagan philosophers were using is the Greek word "theos." In verse 23, we find this same word being used by Paul.

Acts 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD [theos]. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

Paul used the pagan word for god, "theos," and applied it to the true God. The concept that you should never apply the word "god" or "theos" or whatever god is called in any language to the true God is nonsense. As we have just seen, Paul did it.

Acts 14:11 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods [theos] are come down to us in the likeness of men. [After Paul had healed a cripple.]

What really knocks the sacred names concept on its head is the fact that if Christ and the apostles had used the term "Yahweh" or "Yahaweh" or anything like that even remotely around the Jews, they would have been lynched. Even today, you would run that risk. That is why the Jews bob up and down in front of the Wailing Wall. It is why they use the term "Adonai." They apply not taking this name in vain literally and put all their rigmarole of the Talmud around the Commandment to the point where they have lost the pronunciation of the name itself.

When we are looking at the area of respect, what is the Third Commandment actually saying to us? What did the One who became Jesus Christ talk about to Moses when He showed him His glory? He talked of His name -- merciful and gracious -- and all the various characteristics of that name. It is these characteristics that are so important to God. We are to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and it is "in truth" that is so important.

In Mark 3 Christ deals with the scribes and Pharisees, who have this incredibly ultra super self-righteous approach to this subject of the name. Here is this Individual performing miracles, healing people. The scribes accused Him of doing the miracles by the power of Beelzebub. They saw what He was doing and yet they twisted it around and they knew better. This is the point.

Mark 3:22-23 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. (23) And he called them [the scribes] unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?

Mark 3:28-30 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: (29) But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy [Spirit] hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation [eternally being wiped off the map]. (30) Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

These scribes and Pharisees, who were incredibly self-righteous in regards to God's name [YHWH], saw something which was clearly the hand of God. They recognized it as the hand of God, but then, said, "No. This is the hand of Satan." That is the reason this passage was given. They knew better than what they said.

Respect towards God and His name must be in spirit and in truth. When the One, who later became Christ, was dealing with Moses, He did not go into all the ramifications of His name. He declared what He did and how He acted in His dealings with Israel. He was "merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth." We must make sure that we have respect towards God's name and His qualities, the qualities that He also wants to see in all of us.

Swearing -- Old Covenant

Let us look at the subject of swearing in regards to the Third Commandment.

Deuteronomy 6:10-13 And it shall be, when the [Eternal] thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, (11) And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; (12) Then beware lest thou forget the [Eternal], which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. (13) Thou shalt fear the [Eternal, Yahweh] thy God [Elohim. the Mighty Ones], and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

This is a direct command. "You shall swear by the name of Yahweh." The Jews cannot do this, because they will not use the name Yahweh anyway. Nevertheless, the initial command was not only a case of not taking God's name in vain, but to use God's name as a backup in swearing. "By Yahweh, this is true." "By Yahweh, I will do this" It is invoking another force by adding God's name. That is being commanded right here within the law as far as the Old Testament is concerned, as far as the Old Covenant is concerned.

Leviticus 24:10-16 And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp; (11) And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the [Eternal], and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:) (12) And they put him in ward, that the mind of the [Eternal] might be showed them. (13) And the [Eternal] spake unto Moses, saying, (14) Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. (15) And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. (16) And he that blasphemeth the name of the [Eternal], he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the [Eternal], shall be put to death. [And the man was put to death.]

He was using the name of God in vain, as a curse word, blaspheming the name of God, using God's name in a derogatory manner. This specifically fits with this commandment that we should not use God's name in vain in a literal sense -- and this was the application.

So on the one hand they were not to use the name of God in vain and, on the other hand, they were commanded to swear by the name of the Eternal.

In Joshua 9 we find an example of using God's name as an oath. Joshua 9:1-5 And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard thereof; (2) That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord. (3) And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, (4) They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; (5) And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy.

They gave the impression that they had come from a great distance, (having heard about Israel) and so appeared before Joshua.

Joshua 9:14-18 And the men [of Israel] took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the [Eternal]. (15) And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. (16) And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them. (17) And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim. (18) And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the [Eternal] God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes.

God had previously told the Israelites to wipe everyone off the face of the land but here they swore by the Eternal to let these people live and that word, that oath, was absolutely binding on them. Despite the fact that these cities were right in the middle of their possession, they could not touch them.

In II Samuel 21 we see the repercussions of going against this oath.

II Samuel 21:1 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David inquired of the [Eternal]. And the [Eternal] answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites. [Saul had persecuted the Gibeonites and executed a number of them.]

That oath that Israel had made to preserve the Gibeonites occurred 400 years prior to this! The breaking of this oath is comparable to the agreements our forbearers made with the Indians in America and with the Aborigines in Australia that they went back on. Part of the sins of our nations (the UK and the US) is this very thing -- the giving of their word as a people, coming under the banner of the God of Abraham, and then breaking that word. Based on this example and others, I speculate whether some of the repercussions our nations will undergo will be because our agreements have not been actually kept. God's name is to be kept and kept in the forefront.

Swearing -- New Covenant

Why then did -- and how can -- Christ overturn this very clear command, that you shall swear by the name of Yahweh? How could He do that? First, notice the overturning of the command in Matthew 5.

Matthew 5:33-37 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: (34) But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: (35) Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. (36) Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. (37) But let your communication be, Yea, yea [Yes and mean yes]; Nay, nay [No and mean no]: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil [from the evil one].

But why did this same Being who said, "You shall swear by the Eternal" in the Old Testament overturn it in Matthew 5? For what reason?

James 5:12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

The context of this is just approaching the passage where it talks about "calling for the elders of the Church if there are any sick among you." If we are approaching God for healing, we need to approach Him in a certain way. It must be with complete and total transparency, because faith is very much involved. So above all things swear not at all because, if you have to swear, it is because you do not have transparency. It is because you are having to invoke God's name to back you up.

We in the Church have to obey this command today. If we are called into a court of law, we should not swear but, rather, affirm. In the UK and the US, affirming is sufficient. Our "yes" means yes, and our "no" means no. This is a separate subject to jury duty. With jury duty there are all kinds of problems, because we should not be making judgments on people in areas we have no right to be making judgments. This is why we don't serve on a jury. But it is not wrong to give evidence in court. However, if we do find ourselves testifying in a court of law, we should be careful to affirm, not swear.

The reason why the Old Covenant was changed and we now live under the terms of the New Covenant -- the New Agreement -- is because of one thing -- the people. The fault with the Old Covenant lay with the people. They were carnal. That is why they were to swear by God's name because invoking the name of God puts pressure on the individual to tell the truth or at least to tell something approaching the truth. Under New Covenant however, the people now living under its terms have changed as they are now being led by an entirely different Spirit -- The very Spirit of Truth (John 16:13).

Hebrews 8:7-9 For if that first covenant [agreement] had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second (8) For finding fault with them [the problem lay with the people], he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: (9) Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

The problem was with the people themselves. A converted person should not be like that. We should be a different people, where the Laws of God are not just written on tables of stone but written on the tables of the heart. Our "yes" should always mean yes, and our "no" should always mean no. Why? Because we are reflecting the One who is our Father and the One who is our Elder Brother. We are reflecting that we are the children of God, the brothers and sisters of Christ.

John 1:11-12 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name [His authority, the way He is].

When Moses asked to see His glory, The One who became Christ talked about His character. Here is a group of people that believe on His name, that believe on that same character -- the way God is.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) [the only one begotten at that time] full of grace and truth.

When you have to invoke the name of God and swear to back up your word, you are not full of grace and truth. As Christ said, any more than this, that your yes means yes, and your no means no, comes from the evil one. Why? Because he [Satan] was a liar from the beginning That is the way he is. If we have to invoke the name of God to back up our word, we are not the brother and sister of Christ.

John 1:15-17 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. (16) And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. [Christ is full of grace and truth, and we, collectively as a Church, should have of that fulness. We should have a portion of the Spirit that produces that same grace and truth]. (17) For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by [through] Jesus Christ.

Christ said, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father" (John 14:9). We should be able to say, "If you have seen me, you have seen Jesus Christ." That is the goal; but, unfortunately, we cannot because we still sin. That is why the two wave loaves at Pentecost had leaven. But that is the aim, to have the Law of God written on our very heart.

When we are looking at this subject of swearing, we see in the Old Testament that God gave the command to swear by the name of Yahweh to back up their word. But in the New Testament it is totally different, because the people themselves have changed. We are being converted to the same kind of Individual as Christ is -- with the same Spirit -- sons and daughters of the same Father.

Our Example -- Old Testament

Let us look at examples in both the Old and New Testaments.

Leviticus 11 talks about clean and unclean food. It is a very physical, practical application; and it applies to us today as well, as a matter of health. Notice in Leviticus 11 we find why these people were to physically keep themselves from the unclean and to eat the clean.

Leviticus 11:44-45 For I am the [Eternal] your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (45) For I am the [Eternal] that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

You can go all the way back to Noah and find clean and unclean animals being mentioned and beyond that as well. Adam would have been instructed in this. Animals did not just suddenly become "clean" or "unclean" at this point in Leviticus. It is a physical thing concerning what is best for us. It tells us what is food and what is not.

Leviticus 11:46-47 This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth: (47) To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.

"You shall be holy, for I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44). Israel, as a nation, was to be holy. Clean and unclean foods is a physical example of a principle. In Deuteronomy 4 we see the same principle.

Deuteronomy 4:1-2 Now therefore hearken [listen], O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the [Eternal] God of your fathers giveth you. (2) Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the [Eternal] your God which I command you.

This includes the command to swear by His name, a command given to a carnal people.

Deuteronomy 4:3-5 Your eyes have seen what the [Eternal] did because of Baalpeor.. [They committed fornication with the women of Moab] ...for all the men that followed Baalpeor.. [those that followed after Baalpeor gave sacrifices to the dead. Whether they actually ate of the dead remains of humans, we are not sure] ..the [Eternal] thy God hath destroyed them from among you. (4) But ye that did cleave unto the [Eternal] your God are alive every one of you this day. (5) Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the [Eternal] my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.

Remember that Moses was not going into the land, because he did not sanctify God. He did not honor God's name. The example he gave to Israel was wrong.

Deuteronomy 4:6-8 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say.. [What follows is part of the reason for the keeping of the law and statutes, part of the reason for Israel's existence.] ..Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. (7) For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the [Eternal] our God is in all things that we call upon him for? (8) And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

The purpose of physical Israel at that time was to be a model nation so that the nations around them could look in and see a prosperous, vibrant, law-abiding, well-kept, wonderful nation; and they would, therefore, ask: "What is their secret?"

This happened during Queen Victoria's reign. Princes from India came to her and wanted to know the secret of England's greatness, because they could see the greatness within the empire at that time. She brought out a Bible and said, "That is the secret of England's greatness." There is even a painting by Thomas Jones Barker that captures that moment.

During the Millennium this process of using Israel as a model nation will again be implemented. The nations round about will look in and see a nation that is prospering and becoming great. They will see all the benefits of God's Law being applied; and they will say, "We want to be part of the Commonwealth of Israel." Using the same process found in Deuteronomy 4, the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of God will spread across the entire earth.

In the time of the Millennium the nations of Israel and Judah will not see quite the same covenant as we, the people in God's true church today, have with God. The covenant we have with Him now is the betrothal of a Marriage Covenant. We will be married to Christ. That will not happen with Israel. Israel and Judah will have a New Covenant relationship as children of that union. They will be the children in the family of God, and the children will then spread across the rest of the earth. It will still be a New Covenant relationship; but it will be as children, not as the husband and wife, which is reserved to God's true Church.

In the Old Testament example, Israel failed at being the model nation. Ezekiel 36:16-18 Moreover the word of the [Eternal] came unto me, saying, (17) Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman. (18) Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it.

Today we see blood all over our land. The abortion rate is horrendous. Idols are everywhere, including sports idols and pop idols.

Ezekiel 36:19-22 And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. (20) And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the [Eternal], and are gone forth out of his land. (21) But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. (22) Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord [Eternal]; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.

God is talking about their example, the fact that they were not keeping His Laws, but going in their own direction.

Ezekiel 36:19 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen [the nations], which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen [the nations] shall know that I am the [Eternal], saith the Lord [Eternal], when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.

This is looking at the time of the Millennium, when there will indeed be the model nation of Israel under this New Covenant agreement, that will then have the other nations looking in and watching what is taking place.

Ezekiel 36:24-27 For I will take you from among the heathen [the nations], and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. (25) Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. (26) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (27) And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. [This is clearly the Millennial rule.]

When the Anglo-Saxon, English speaking peoples are taken over in that brief period of time of 3 1/2 years, they will at that time come under this same condemnation found in Ezekiel 36:20. They have, and are today, polluting the very name of God that is Holy. Certainly there is very likely to be a work of God done by the Church just before this happens as these nations will know who they are (Hos 7:12). In addition, the Church is going to be pursued into the wilderness for some reason (Rev 12:15). But there will also be the work of the two witnesses as well.

What are the two witnesses going to be saying? Are they not going to be talking about Israel? Are they not going to be talking about Britain and America? Part of their very message has to involve pointing out that Britain and America are Israel. And they will also undoubtedly be pointing out how the people, now a despised slave people, conducted themselves abominably before God. This we can all witness very clearly today in the various news reports and the media items exported by our countries across the world.

But this abominable example will change when God brings them, Modern Israel, into the land of Israel, and takes away the stony heart, the hardheartedness, and gives them a new heart and a new spirit -- the very Spirit of God. From this point forward we will then see what should have happened in Deuteronomy 4 -- with nations round about looking at this model nation and witnessing the remarkable difference.

Our Example -- New Testament

What about the New Testament example? What about us, the Church of God? We also have a responsibility to be an example. How do people look upon us? Is it a case that they look upon us and sarcastically say, "This is the Church of God," and despise us because we are going our own way, not going God's way at all?

John 14:5-6 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? (6) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

The Father calls, turns the person over to Christ for training, and then eventually the individual ends up in the presence of the Father. Only through this process is that possible.

John 14:7-10 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. (8) Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. ["Show us the Father and that is enough."] (9) Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? (10) Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

When looking at Christ, we see the Father personified. They are two separate individuals, for He says: "Not my will, but your will be done" (Luke 22:42). You cannot have two wills without two separate individuals. But if you look at one of Them, you are looking at the Other, because They both have the same character. They both approach things in the same way. They both have agape love, this outgoing concern.

We call ourselves "The Church of God," and we need to think about and remember what that actually means. If Christ was here, He would say, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father." What about us? Can we say the same?

When we were baptized, what were we baptized into? Matthew 28:19 says: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in [better translated "into"] the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy [Spirit]:

It does not need to explain in Matthew 28:19 the nature of the Godhead. From other passages we see clearly that God is not a Trinity. The three mentioned are not co-equal as Christ Himself said "my Father is greater than I" (John 14:28). The Holy Spirit is not a person, but a force that binds the Father and Christ together, like a breath that both of them breathe (John 20:22) -- and that power also binds all those that are baptized into that Family name (ICor 12:13; Eph 2:18).

But this passage certainly does show how all of us were baptized into the name of the Godhead. Think about what that means. When we are looking at this subject of not taking God's name in vain, do we reflect on our baptism? Do we take the name of the Godhead in vain? Is our example one of, "If you have seen me, you have seen my Father? Or my Elder Brother"?

We need to be as our Father is, as our Elder Brother is. Notice in Matthew 5:48, Be [become] ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Some people will try and get around this verse by saying that what it really means is to "become mature." It is true that the word "perfect" can mean "mature," but in the sense of being ready to be plucked, ready for the very Kingdom of God. Either way it is being perfect or mature as your Father in heaven is mature. That is the aim, but this does not happen humanly. It is only possible through God, the Master Craftsman, who is creating His masterpiece in us.

Sometimes, as we look in the mirror and see all the problems we have, it is hard to see this masterpiece He is creating. But it is a case of having the faith in that creative power that only He has, through His Holy Spirit. It is the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit that creates that righteousness within us. That does not mean to say we do not have to keep God's Law. Of course, we do! But it is a matter of how it is kept. The Law must be kept by Him converting us from being human to being God with His holy, righteous character -- continually led and converted by the action of the Holy Spirit of God. That is what it is all about.

Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

The churches of the world take "Our Father" and make it into a vain repetition. There are monks on Caldey Island here in South Wales, who have said the same prayer in Latin every morning for 600 years! They think that they will be "heard for their much speaking."

Matthew 6:8-10 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (9) After this manner [in this way] therefore pray ye.. [What follows is the outline of how you pray] ..Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (10) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven...

From the Greek it is literally translated: "Father of us in the heavens: Let be sanctified the name of You. Let come the Kingdom of You. Let be done the will of You: As in heaven, so on earth." The "as in heaven, so on earth" applies to the preceding three areas -- "Thy name," "Thy kingdom," "Thy will."

One thing we are actually saying when we say "hallowed be Your name" is, "Let me sanctify the name of You." How is that done? It is done in our approach to Him, as well as by our example. When we get on our knees and address God as, "Our Father," at that moment we lay claim to being part of the very Family of God. It points back to our baptism. That time when we were baptized into the name of the very Godhead.

Notice a few scriptures in Ephesians. Ephesians 4:23, And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; Ephesians 4:26, Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Ephesians 4:28, Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

In other words, get the mind shifted from Satan's way to God and His Way.

Ephesians 5:3-4 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; (4) Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient... [not fitting.]

This includes profanity, even if it is not coupled with taking God's name in vain. We are not to use our mouth in any unfitting way. And it certainly can -- for example, when our finger comes between a hammer and a nail...!

Ephesians 5:4-9 (cont'd) ...but rather giving of thanks. (5) For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (6) Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. (7) Be not ye therefore partakers with them. (8) For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (9) (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.) [All these verses are applicable to what it means to be the Church of God.]

Matthew 7:20-23 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (21) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. [We need to be very careful to do what God says, and not just what we decide to do.]

And Have Not Denied My Name

Revelation 3 talks about the church era that we in the true Church of God have lived through. The Church of God is in a shattered state at the present time, with the predominant state of mind being Laodicean, Although the Laodicean Church is not yet clearly identifiable, the attitude of mind certainly is. But it is the Philadelphian era that is praised.

Notice what Christ says concerning this era of the Church. Revelation 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

We have certainly seen the open door in the hands of Mr. Armstrong and the Work that was done. Today, we see a closed door. And regardless of what people are trying to do, they cannot open those doors again unless and until God Himself chooses to do so.

Revelation 3:8-10 I know thy works... [talking to the true Church of God of this era]: ...behold, I have set before thee an open door... [He certainly did!] ...and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. (9) Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (10) Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (11) Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

These verses flow from the Work done by the Church up until this time of shattering, still talking to the people who were there, who have not denied His name, who have not denied the authority that is over them. We are to hold fast to what we have -- That Way -- that was over us previously -- "that no man take thy crown."

Malachi 3 speaks of this same period of time that we find ourselves in today. 3:16 Then they that feared the [Eternal] spake often one to another: and the [Eternal] hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the [Eternal], and that thought upon his name.

One of the areas of meditation that we need today in particular is to reflect on the name of God, which includes the authority of God as well as the holy, righteous and perfect Way He lives. Doing this should certainly help us to appreciate the True Source of This Way and so help us not to take such things for granted -- and therefore "in vain".

The truth of God did not come from Mr. Herbert Armstrong. It came via Mr. Armstrong but not from him. An absolutely crucial point to understand is "apostleship." The word "apostle" means "one who is sent." An apostle is one sent with a message. That message does not come from the one sent, but from the One who is doing the sending. You look past the person being sent to the One doing the sending, and you find the name of God. You find the Church OF GOD. You find that we are baptized into the Godhead, that we are to be perfect as the Father is perfect, that there are two trees -- with good and evil as defined by God, not as defined by ourselves. It was not Mr. Herbert Armstrong who led the Church while he was alive, but Jesus Christ who led the Church; and it has to be the same today: with the same Christ leading the same Church through the same Spirit along the same Way.

We can so very easily take God's name in vain, because we do pray daily "Our Father" and "hallowed be Your name." Saying these words reflects our relationship with God. But our lives, as sons and daughters of God, must also reflect His name. We call ourselves the Church OF God. We need to take the time to meditate on what that really means -- lest we also fall into the same condemnation of profaning God's Holy, Righteous and perfect name as did ancient Israel.

transcribed in article form by KA. Edited by JB.