We move on to the Third Commandment today which continues to be concerned with idolatry. Here the specific concern is with bearing God’s name faithfully. Literally, the Third Word says: “You shall not lift up the name of Yahweh your God to vanity/worthlessness because Yahweh will not hold unpunished he who lifts His name to vanity” (Ex. 20:7). Frequently, we cite the Third Commandment when people swear or use God’s name frivolously, but that is merely a small expression of something much greater. For God to instruct His people to be careful with His name is to imply that His people bear His name.
Naming as Creation, Rule, and Love
The act of naming goes back to the act of creation in the beginning. When God created, He also named. And one of the signs of Adam’s calling to imitate God and grow up into His creativity and rule is found in Adam’s first task of naming the animals (Gen. 2:19). Then after God created the woman, it was Adam who named her woman (Gen. 2:23). Naming is bound up with creating and ruling. God is the original Creator and sovereign ruler, but man is created to join with Him in that creativity and rule. But naming is also an act uniting and relating, an act of love. To name is to distinguish: this is not that, but it is also to open the possibility of relating two different things. Adam names her woman in order to love her, to cleave to her, to be united to her. Continue Reading…