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|BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz|
Mar 4, 2018 SERMON ARCHIVE
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ!
In todays Old Testament Lesson, God says to you and to me and to all Christians of every time and place, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain."
We begin in the name of Jesus, AMEN.
Dear friends, There is a harsh and terrible warning in those Words: "the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His [the LORDs] name in vain."
But, there is also a rich and wonderful promise in them as well: when God gives you His Name when you have upon yourself the powerful "name of the Lord your God"it shall never be in vain. In other words, Gods name shall not fail you or withhold any benefit or blessing from you.
As every confirmation student knowsor at least has heard the Second Command-ment forbids the sins of the tongue. Each one of you should have memorized it at some point in your life: What is the Second Commandment? The modern version says: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks.
That is a very good start, especially for teaching small children, but the Second Commandment goes far beyond the sins you commit when you lie or deceive or when you fail to pray as you ought. Sins of tongue and mouth are just one small detail of the much larger painting.
But listen to the commandment again as the hebrew states it. God does not say, "You shall not SPEAK the name of the Lord your God in vain." God says, "You shall not TAKEyou shall not pick up, you shall not lift up, you shall not carry or bearthe name of the Lord your God in vain." These Words paint a bigger picture!
Yes, God certainly forbids that you misuse His name with your tongues. In other words, God does not wish for you to take His name into your mouth and to lift it up or speak it out before the world in a vain or inglorious way, cursing, swearing, using satanic arts, lying, and deceiving. Such uses of Gods name dishonor the good name of your God among you!
Yet God also forbids that you CARRY and WEAR His name vainly. "The LORD will not hold guiltless him who TAKESpicks up, carries, bears and wearsHis name in vain."
In order to see the bigger picture concerning the Second Commandment, listen to how God taught the priests (Aaron and his sons) to bless to the people. First, God gave the priests specific Words they must say: The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace" (Numbers 6:22-26)
Then, after telling the priests what Words to say, God when on to explain what happens to you when the priest speaks these Words: "So shall they [the priests] PUT MY NAME UPON the people of Israel" (Numbers 6:27).
Did you catch that? When you hear the Words"the Lord bless you and keep you," and so onGods name is getting laid upon you like a blanket or a cloak. When you hear those Words, Gods name gets handed to you to bear and to carry as you would your drivers license or your photo ID.
"So shall they [the priests] PUT MY NAME UPON the people of Israel." "So shall they PUT MY NAME UPON the people of Israel." Tell the people of Israeltell all Gods people of every time and place"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain." You shall not pick up and carry, you shall not wear or bear Gods name uselessly, because "the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain."
By all means, think about the sins you commit with your tongue. You SHOULD fear and love God so that you do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks.
But do not stop there! Think also about how little you think of your Baptism, where the good and gracious name of God was given personally to you, and where you were baptized into "the NAME of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).
In the Second Commandment, God forbids you to take THAT namethe name given in Baptismin vain. In other words, God forbids you to live as if you were never baptized.
This Commandment is Gods warning to those who would dare to baptize their children and then disappear from worship, not bothering to teach their children the Christian faith. "The LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain."
In other words, the Lord knows and the Lord remembers those who take His name in Baptism but then want nothing more to do with Him. But this commandment does more than speak to the other guy! What are you really doing, when you treat your neighbor harshly, when you withhold forgiveness or nurse a grudge, or when you ignore someones need?
When you withhold love from your neighbor, you should think of it as an act of taking your LORDs name in vain. Gods name contains ALL the power and strength you need for patient and generous neighborly love, and Gods name has been given to you! "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain."
In other words, do not act as if Gods name has never been given to you. How about when you choose to wallow in self-pity, or when you wring your hands with despair? Self-pity makes the deceptive suggestion that you might have been forgotten. Despair entertains the satanic lie that there is no forgiveness and no hope to be found. And yet, you have been given the name of the Lord our God!
Where Gods name is, there also is the full forgiveness of every sin, created for you by Christ Jesus. Where Gods name is, there also is security and confidence, even in the darkest hours of the night. Where Gods name is, there also is hope and expectation and certainty, standing fast against all fear.
"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain." In other words, do not allow yourself to think that you have not been forgiven by God, or that full release from every sin has not been given to you in Jesus name.
Do not allow yourself to be fooled or deceived into thinking that God cannot or will not raise you up, even from the dead. After all, you do not carry and bear the name of God in vain and for no purpose!
Really, that is the blessing of the Second Commandment, even though it sounds like a warning and a curse. God has said, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain."
Peel back the harshest part of these Words, especially the end part. Focus upon the first part of what God says here. In order to spot Gods blessing and promise, do not think in terms of a commandment or demand. Rather, listen to these Words as if God were stating a fact to you: "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain."
In other words, It will never not be worth it for you to carry the name of the Lord your God, both upon your forehead (Revelation 14:4, 22:4) and upon your heart (Psalm 33:21). It shall never be useless or unproductive for you to take the name of the Lord your God.
Amidst struggle or hardship, terror or despair, all of Gods Christians, and that means everyone of you may fearlessly say with the psalmist in Psalm 124, "Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth" . Or with the writer of Proverbs in Proverbs 18, "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower, [we] run to it and are safe."
When Gods name is given to youas it most certainly has been given to you both in Baptism and at the close of every worship His name shall not fail to do what it promises you!
Because of this name you carry and bearthis name which is above all other names you may say and confess with the confidence of King David in Psalm 20, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
Christ is Risen.
|Christ Is Risen|
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