The Sacred Name of God
 (Exodus 20.7)

The third commandment strictly guards our use of the Name of God. It is common practice amongst the Jews today not even to mention his name, out of an excessive fear of misusing it, and the prudent Imam Shafii was justly famous for being most scrupulous in his sparing use of God’s name. By contrast we are often just the opposite, His sacred name trips off our tongue at all occasions and at all times, without thought and without reverence. Thus we guiltily make his Name empty and vain. We cheapen His glory.

However this command is above all concerned with our worship of God. Do we praise Him with full hearts, with minds full of admiration and amazement? Or our hearts easily distracted and turned aside by earthly and vain distrations during our worship? Our mind is so often full of worries and choking concerns, not focussed on the glory of the One true God.

He alone is worthy of the full adoration and affection of all our being. Anything less than this is insulting to His supreme Majesty. Malachi, the prophet, rebukes the priests for offering a lame sheep, or a blind animal for sacrifice. Would your governor be impressed if you made such a worthless offering to him? He asks. How much less your Divine Governor! But all too often our offerings of praise and adoration are also blemished and flawed. All too often our songs and love are more like the vinegar offered on the cross, than the rich full wine they should be.

To help us and stimulate us to worship God more fully, we consider briefly what is meant by the Name of God. First we will see seven common meanings of the word Name, and then how each of these senses can only be unlocked by the true key of Divine wisdom.

First, Name reveals the character of its object, as with Eve (Huwa), the ‘mother of all living’. See how Jacob, ‘the usurper’, had his name transformed, when God miraculously converted his heart, to Israel which means a ‘prince with God’. God’s name ‘Jealous’, for example found in Ex 34.14, reveals the intense strength of His concern for the purity of our hearts and thoughts, stronger than the most jealous bridegroom over his beloved.

Second, this command refers to God’s Name not names. This reminds us that a name is a reference to the very existence and essence of a being, not just various separate attributes, we find Name used in this sense when God threatens to destroy his people completely in Deut 9.14. God’s Name is who He is, the eternal I AM, the I AM that I AM.

Third, a name is the key to personal knowledge. If you forget my name, you cannot know me well. What could be more saddening to God, than when His people, forget and neglect His Name? Yet if we know His Name, its meaning and its significance, then we know Him in a deeper and intimate way.

Fourth, a name stands for our reputation. Solomon says a good name is better than precious ointment. We often say, ‘I will stake my name on that’. God has quite literally staked His name on His promises. He cannot lie, and He cannot deny His nature. Therefore we, with all the people of God may plead His Name as a powerful reason for answering our prayers. Daniel the prophet does this. “Lord” he cries in effect “Your honour is at stake, when will you act to uplift and uphold your Name, your reputation”.

Fifth, Name stands for authority. In older times in Britain, soldiers would arrest criminals ‘in the King’s Name’, and demand special access by His authority. They stood in the King’s place, in His Name. Thus we can say, the Name of God is a strong tower the righteous run into it and are safe. All the authority and power of the Almighty God rests in His Name. What an encouragement to pray and trust Him with faith!

Sixth, Name stands for the right of inheritance. This is clarified by the pleadings of the daughters of Zelophehad in Numbers 27.1-4, and in other places in Torah. A good family name is still a source of pride and dignity, and confers a good right to inheritance. What richer, better family name than that of the Most High?

Finally, God’s Name is a place of sacred contact, a place of meeting with Him in person. So He says through Solomon of His holy temple, ‘the place of which You said, My Name shall be there’. We must handle His name with great care because it is the door into His presence, the window that admits the light of His glory.

There is a most mysterious and wonderful statement in the Psalms of David about God’s Name. It opens a great key to understanding. He says, “I will worship toward Thy Holy temple, and praise Thy Name for Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth, for Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy Name.” (Ps 138). Amongst all the glorious attributes and facets of his being, God has given preeminent place to His Word. The means of revelation of His mind, the means of knowledge, the express brightness of His being is exalted over all else.

By the unveiling of His Spirit, we recognise this as a revelation of a Person, not merely of His written and spoken words, namely of the Word of God, who is with Him and from Him from before Creation, eternally the Messiah. He is the Uncreated agent of Creation, as we read when God said ‘Be and it was’.

How wonderfully and perfectly all these seven senses of the word Name meet their consummation in the Lord Jesus. As the apostle says, ‘All the promises of God in Him are Yes and in Him Amen.’
He is the express revelation of God’s Holiness and character - the glory of His glory. ‘Have you not known Me...?, He who has seen Me has seen the Father’. An artist fashions his likeness in pictures, but only His begotten son bears his nature and living likeness. All creatures, and especially those endowed with spirits, bear the image and mark of God’s likeness, but only the begotten Word fully declares and reveals Him in all His glory.
But the Messiah is not just like God, the glorious mystery is that He is all the fullness of God revealed in the human flesh, just as a glimpse of God’s glory was shown to Moses in the burning bush. Messiah shares His very essence, He is the eternal Son, without beginning, without end. He is the Uncreated Word, on whom all life and hope depends. The fullness of Divine splendour was unveiled in Messiah, when he came to earth. There are not two Gods, but only One. The Speaker and His Word are One.
Jesus’ Name is the Unique and singular key to the knowledge of God. No one knows the Father, except the Son, and he to whomever the Son reveals Him. Without the Son, life is like a room without a door, or a wall without a window. King David says a 1000 years before Messiah, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish from the way.”
Messiah alone guarantees God’s sacred reputation. How else could all the ugliness of our sin be truly forgiven and washed away, if He had not kept the Law and born its terrible penalty on behalf of His own people? Without Him, either the threats and curses of God’s Law or God’s forgiveness are empty words. By Him alone true righteousness and peace may kiss.
All God’s power and authority rests in Jesus’ Name, all power in Heaven and Earth, so He claims before he ascends to the right hand of God. When we pray in His Name, we pray with royal, no, with Divine authority. The Name of the Messiah is the only key to access the Throne of power.
Jesus is the sealing of a certain, eternal inheritance of life. His Name is the Name written on our foreheads in paradise. It is by Him and by His triumph at the cross, we are made heirs of God and co heirs of the New Creation with Him!
Jesus is the true Temple. Two temples have been built and crushed, the first by Babylon, the second by Rome. Some misguided friends still vainly look for a third. But the Lord said, ‘destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up’. This third temple has already come! It is the eternal and now indestructible temple of His body. His Name is our only meeting place with God. The only ladder between Heaven and Earth.

Do you know His Name? do you love and fear His Name? Is it more precious than all else beside? Than the feeble comforts, and fading pleasures of this passing world? Or do we still cling the empty charms, the vain delights of time and space, and place all our hopes and treasures in a life, certain to be stolen from us at death.

Ask Him to reveal the glory of his Name to you in His Word, His eternal Son, Jesus the Messiah. Ask Him to open your eyes, to wash away your sin by faith in His blood, and cleanse your heart. Pray to Him to transform your life, implant a deep hatred of evil within and write His Law in your inner being. He alone can work a deep and lasting repentance in place of our secret pride and stubbornness.

Ask Him freely and undeservedly to write His Name on your forehead.

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