In Biblical history and Jewish tradition, the name of God is so sacred, so revered, that it is never uttered. Even Moses, who is the one mere mortal that comes closest to seeing God face to face and lives to tell about it, is only given a descriptive title when he asks for God’s name. “I AM who AM.” Catholic teaching has reverted back to not speaking aloud the name of God, which is derived from the title above, within the Mass. The Hebrew letters הוה (Yod Heh Vav Heh) were translated into Roman script as Y H V H. Traditional Hebrew has no written vowels, the vowels sounds are taught and memorized. However, the name of God was never allowed to be spoken, thus over the centuries, the original pronunciation has been forgotten. (Jewish tradition also prevents the writing of God’s name so that it can never be erased, hence the representation G-d in print.) Some variations of these four letter have been used by Christian, for example Yahweh and Jehovah, but as I said above, in the latest translation of the Mass, the title Yahweh has been removed from songs and spoken prayers because of its divine nature.
In the Our Father prayer, we pray “Hallowed by Thy Name.” Have you ever thought of what that means? It is a plea that the Name of God be revered and praised, exalted and reserved. His Name should be one of worship and prayer, not every day speech. Taking the LORD’s name in vain is not just the misuse of the name, it is the overuse of it, turning it into an everyday phrase, essentially devoiding it of meaning. (Exodus 20:7) This is the true heart of that commandment. While using God’s name as a profanity is the highest form of disrespect and rejection of His Grace, it is truly the overuse of the Name that is stripping the hallowedness from the Name above all Names. (Philippians 2:8-11)
I have been struck lately by the pervasiveness of taking God’s name in vain and realized that most people do not even realize what they are doing. It is part of our conventional and casual conversations, the same as “on the go,” “all the way,” and “dirt cheap.” are idioms that we say but never really consider the meaning before they pass our lips. How much more so has God’s name become one of our common phrases that can mean anything from surprise to disgust, from excitement to insult. It is not just the secularization of America that is dragging God’s name down, it is a true cosmic battle.
By making the most sacred, the most mundane, satan is dragging our world into his lair and stripping our souls of the awe and wonder worthy of God. We are being desensitized to the most powerful Word at our disposal. Surely, God always hears all that we say, and if we were to cry out His Name in heartfelt need, He would listen, but we must realize that we will also be held accountable for every word we have spoken during our lives. (Matthew 12:26) Moreover, with the loss of reverence, how many are being taught the power of the Living God, by realizing the power that is in His Name?
It all began with the catch phrase, “Thank God it’s Friday.” Not much vanity there except for the fact that how many who were saying that were actually thanking God? This was then shortened to TGIF, same idea, but the Name of God was being evoked and erased at the same time. That then became the name of a famous restaurant TGIFriday’s, another step down the path away from a God fearing nation. With the advent of texting and it’s new”language” we can now swear against God and still never say His name. Some may think this it is better to use OMG than to actually utter the profanity, but both are vain uses of God’s name, the only difference is the first is evoking and denouncing God without realizing it.
If God’s name had no power, why would it be so profaned? There is no other deity who’s name is cursed or twisted or misused as Our LORD’s. The power is there, we just don’t realize it. Scripture states that , “at the sound of His Name, every knee shall bend.” (Philippians 2:10) In the second coming, we will all bend, whether we like it or not, and just as the shafts of wheat and bundles of weeds are bent and uprooted and then tossed into the harvest or into the fire, our God-designed souls will force us to show Him reverence. However, think of how many times, just out on any given day, you hear God’s name misused and no knees bend, no homage is paid, no praise is uttered. We are losing not only our faith but our most valuable weapon. When Joshua called upon the LORD, the wall of Jericho fell. (Joshua 6) We have not only devalued God’s name, but at the same time that it is being vainly used, we are forcing His Name and His presence out of every corner of public life.
As followers of Christ, we must measure our words carefully so that they always give glory to God and we never perversely utter His Divine Name. However, I think that we must also find a way to bring sanctity back to the public square. We must find a way to show honor to God as reparation for His Name being misused. Fear of GOD is not a bad thing, we should fear the All Powerful, All-Knowing, Ever Present LORD, if we do not, we obviously do not grasp His true Power and Magnitude. It is time we take back the sacred. I do not know how this is to be done, but I feel that as a body of believers, we must begin the discussion and pray for guidance.
How do you think we should return sacredness to the Name of Our Precious LORD?