Taking the Name of the Lord in Vain
One of the things we learn from examining the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20 is that we must not use the name of the Lord in vain or have any graven images. In considering that instruction, it should be known and understood that this is a command given by God Himself to His people, a people that He has set apart for Himself! In that He is establishing a clear boundary in which He expects His people to revere His name and to keep themselves from idols!
There are at least four ways in which we are given to know about the existence of God as finite beings. We see His handiwork in all of Creation, from the creation of the sun, moon, and stars, to the creation of mankind (Gen. 1, 2). We also know God from His Word (Logos: Word of God & Jesus (John 1:1) & Rhema: Utterance (Luke 1:38, Acts 11:16)). Our own conscience also testifies to the existence of God (Rom. 2:15). And we know God as the result of the Spirit of God who dwells inside of the Children of God (Rom. 8:15, Gal. 4:6, 1 Cor. 6:19).
Throughout Scripture there are many names that are ascribed to God, such as: God (Gen. 1:1); LORD (Gen. 2:4); I AM THAT I AM (Ex. 3:14); JEHOVAH (Isa. 12:2); and Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8). Some things we know from this is that God is Most High, Almighty, Sovereign, Everlasting, Creator, Jealous, Holy… There are many attributes of God!
“I am the Lord (Gen. 15:7)” and “I am the Almighty God (Gen. 17:1)” are the first two phrases in Scripture where God directly identifies Himself.
Exodus 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
The Scripture uses metaphors and/or anthropomorphic language in describing God.
Metaphor: A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (Webster).
Analogy: A comparison of two things based on their being alike in some way; The act of comparing two things that are alike in some way (Webster).
Anthropomorphic: “An anthropomorphic description of God describes God in human forms or human terms (Grudem, p. 159).” This is used in terms we can understand!
Be sure to read the Word of God “in context.” And be careful not to misrepresent His Word! For example, the Lord Jesus is referred to as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David (Reference to role as Mediator) and as a Lamb (Rev. 5:5,6, Gen. 49:10). And in Matt. 3:16 we find the Spirit of God descending like a dove as it lighted upon the Lord.
The Spirit of God is not a dove, it descended upon the Lord “like a dove!” (Grace, Innocence)
This does not say that Jesus is a created being such as a lion and a lamb. This is a way in which Scripture describes some of the attributes or characteristics of God, such as Mediator, King, Head, Authority, Leadership, Strength, Courage, Protector, Provider, Offering!
”He is a lion to conquer Satan, a lamb to satisfy the justice of God (Matthew Henry).”
Below is a list of references to God in anthropomorphic language:
Descriptions of God (Creation)*
Isa. 31:4 Lion, Deut. 32:11 Eagle, Isa. 53:7 Lamb, Matt. 23:37 Hen, Psa. 84:11 Sun, Rev. 22:16 Morning Star, Psa. 27:1 Light, Rev. 21:23 Torch, Heb. 12:29 Fire, Psa. 36:9 Fountain, Deut. 32:4 Rock, Psa. 119:114 Hiding Place, Prov. 18:10 Tower, Psa. 39:11 Moth, Psa. 91:1 Shadow, Psa. 84:11 Shield, Rev. 21:22 Temple
Descriptions of God (Human Experience)*
Isa. 61:10 Bridegroom, Isa. 54:5 Husband, Deut. 32:6 Father, Isa. 33:22 Judge & King, Ex 15:3 Man of war, Heb. 11:10 Builder & Maker, Psa 23:1 Shepherd, Ex. 15:26 Physician,
Descriptions of God (Human Actions)*
Gen. 18:21 Knowing, Gen. 8:1, Ex. 2:24 Remembering, Gen. 1:10 Seeing, Ex. 2:24 Hearing, Gen. 8:21 Smelling, Psa. 11:5 Tasting, Psa. 9:7 Sitting, Psa. 68:1 Rising, Lev. 26:12 Walking, Isa. 25:8 Wiping away tears
Descriptions of God (Human Emotions)*
Isa. 62:5 Joy, Psa. 78:40, Isa. 62:10 Grief, Jer. 7:18,19 Anger, John 3:16 Love, Deut. 16:22 Hatred, Psa. 2:5 Wrath
Descriptions of God (Human Body, Metaphorically)*
Ex. 33:20, 23, Isa. 63:8, Psa. 16:11, Rev. 22:4 Face, Psa. 11:4, Heb. 4:13 Eyes, Psa. 11:4 Eyelids, Psa. 55:1, Isa. 59:1 Ears, Deut. 33:10 Nose, Deut. 8:3 Mouth, Job 11:5 Lips, Isa. 30:27 Tongue, Jer. 18:17 Neck, Ex. 15:16 Arms, Num. 11:23 Hand, Ex. 8:19 Finger, Gen. 6:6 Heart, Isa. 66:1 Foot
*Information comes from Scripture, but was compiled by Herman Bavinck (Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 158)
Unfortunately, the anthropomorphic language that is used in Scripture is often misused, misapplied, and grossly exaggerated in many aspects of Christianity today. We find that abuse in ministries such as Perry Stone’s OCI Ministry and their obsession with symbolism that is defining a generation of reprobates that follow the abominable doctrines of the New Breed (New Apostolic Reformation).
That abuse is also seen in Contemporary Christian Music that uses anthropomorphic language in a way that often elevates the role of man and minimizes the role of God! Such abuse is forever damaging a generation of seekers that know some facts about God, but don’t actually know God, as evidenced by the rotten fruit that is produced!
When objects are developed to represent God, they become objects of worship themselves, which is idolatry! That idolatry is one way in which truth is being marginalized by a generation whose god is their belly. The result of such callous disregard for the Word of God is delusion, which if left unchecked without repentance, leads to reprobation.
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).
If you find yourself today in worship of idols, take it to the Lord in prayer. Repent and ask Him to forgive you! Know that God is God and God alone! He alone is worthy to be praised!
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).
Be sure to Give (Verb: to ascribe) unto the Lord the glory due unto his name… (Psa. 29:2).
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).