Formations lesson for September 9: Taking God Seriously
August 24 2001 by Tom Greene , Exodus 20:7-11

Formations lesson for September 9: Taking God Seriously | Friday, Aug. 24, 2001

Friday, Aug. 24, 2001

Formations lesson for September 9: Taking God Seriously

By Tom Greene Exodus 20:7-11 "You shall not abuse the name of Yahweh, your God." Ruben Alves suggests that it be read: "Don't use God's name unless you mean it, unless you're really serious about it." Alves' definition catches a lot of us. We are guilty of casual churchgoing with little or no commitment to a life of faith; we may even use a little profanity now and then. This commandment is about more than saying some four-letter words. It is about using God's name lightly, flippantly, without realizing or being concerned about the consequences.

What's in a Name? (Exodus 20:7) It started at the burning bush when Moses insisted on knowing God's name in case Pharaoh should ask.

"Tell him it is Yahweh," said God, "...'I am who I am.'"

God did not withhold his name from Moses or from the people of Israel. He gave it to them as a promise of His presence, not so He could be subject to their manipulation. He opened Himself to His people with as much fullness as they could stand. Now they knew His name. It was the only name the Jews had for God, they did not play around with it; they treated it with great respect.

God's good name is important and precious. To treat it with disrespect is to treat His gift lightly, to underestimate His power, to scorn His presence, and to misrepresent His very nature as "The One Who Always Is."

When we make a separation between using the divine name and acting as if God is really the Lord (acting as if He truly means something) we cheapen His name.

One can keep from cheapening God's name by remembering who it belongs to and employing it only with respect and reverence; binding ourselves in genuine obedience to the One who gives us His name. It is true that He is a God of love and grace, but even love and grace carries a measure of obligation. We cannot be His people, called by His name, without living as His people. We cannot be on-again, off-again followers. There must be faithfulness, consistency and obedience on our part as there is on His. It's a matter of bad faith when we pretend to have a relationship that we don't have.

Rest Time (Exodus 20:8-11) Busyness is one of the biggest problems we face today. We recite our mantra, "So much to do and so little time to do it," over and over throughout the day. We're wearing ourselves out and even our children. The result is that because of our busyness we are becoming increasingly efficient at leading meaningless lives.

Life was not meant to be lived that way. The Israelites were not to live as if time was all their own, and they could use it as they please. God gave a day of rest each week to slow down and get in touch with ourselves. The commandment says that God Himself worked six days and on the seventh day He blessed it and rested. Israel, therefore, could hardly do otherwise.

Are we better than God is? Everything was to stop on the seventh day. Even the beasts were to rest.

God gave the Sabbath as a holy day for rest, remembering and rejoicing, not for putting all human behaviors in a straitjacket! "The Sabbath was made for man," Jesus reminded them, "not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27).

God gave His law as a blessing, not a curse. The Sabbath is a day to be distinguished from all other days as a day for holy purposes. The reason it is to be kept free from the customary labor for sustenance is because it belongs to Yahweh.

Because it is the Lord's Day, we are called to remember its significance - to redeem and revitalize our lives, to remember and come together to worship and sing hymns to Almighty God, who created the world and is still creating it in His kingdom today.

There is no doubt that we are free in Christ. Our freedom compels us to rest, remember, rejoice, worship and keep life holy by taking God seriously.

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8/24/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tom Greene , Exodus 20:7-11 | with 0 comments
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