Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Do not take the Lord's name in vain: Dt 5:11

"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain." (Deuteronomy 5:11)
To take the name of the Lord in vain means to use, invoke, or speak of the Lord's name in a way that is empty, useless, or worthless. When considering a foundation for governance, in relationship to their spirituality, nations and governments should be both genuine and reverent.

A government's invocation and acknowledgment of God should be genuine. It is hypocrisy to speak of God in public yet live a life void of His influence in private. When a political candidate goes to church on Sunday to make a good showing before the cameras, he may sway the minds of his constituents, but God is not fooled. We may print on our money, "In God we trust" but do we really trust Him or is our faith in our own strength, wisdom, and resources? We may say, "God bless America" but do we have a relationship with God from which to pronounce such a blessing? When a government, or a nation, gives voice to an acknowledgment of God, but denies that acknowledgment by its actions, then it is taking the name of the Lord in vain. God speaks this judgment against Israel, "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." (Mark 7:6-7) As a nation and a government, we should live our lives in such a way that our words are testified to by our lives. Our words and our life should be the same; there should be no disparity.

A government should also be reverent of the name of the Lord. The Lord's name is not some magic charm to grant us what we desire. We can say God is on our side, but saying it does not necessarily make it so. We can say we have the divine right to rule, or that we have some Manifest Destiny, but saying it doesn't automatically make it true. God's name has power, but only when it is associated with His word and His purpose. No matter how loud and how long we proclaim His name over our own works, they will still remain our works and they will always be less than divine.

Israel was facing war and had already been defeated once before their enemy. So they sent to Shiloh to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant that it might go before them into battle. "As the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth resounded." (1 Samuel 4:5) Unfortunately, they presumed upon God. They were so certain that God would back up their plans that they never asked God what they should do. Instead of relying on God, they used God for their own purposes. In the end, the Lord did not fight for Israel, the Ark of the Covenant was lost, and Israel was defeated. "So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died." (1 Samuel 4:10-11)

As a nation and as a government, the Lord's name should only be used over His own works, and not the works of our hand. We should be reverent of His name and not use it for our own purposes. We must not take His name in vain.

David Robison

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