Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm20060809.htm
EXODUS: FUNCTIONING WELL IN A HOPELESS GROUP ASSIGNMENT
Part II: God's Sustainment Of Israel In The Wilderness Amid Humanly Helpless Trials
I. Aligning With God's Moral Order: The Ten Commandments
1. The First Five Commandments: Loving God With All Of One's Being
c. Commandment Three: Holding To God's Absolute Sovereignty Over Us
Lesson: Contrary to the views of the secular world, we CHRISTIANS are NOT to view ourselves as living FOR the purpose of PLEASING OURSELVES, but to see ourselves as ACCOUNTABLE to GOD and to live for HIM and HIS purposes. A SYMBOL of this reality is the WAY we must use the name of God: we are to USE it RESPECTFULLY and TRUTHFULLY as being accountable to a SUPERIOR!
- Particularly in our secular world, though increasingly even in Christendom, we have been conditioned to think that the highest goal in life is the pursuit of our OWN welfare of life, liberty and happiness.
- However, this is an errant aim for the believer, for he does not belong to himself, but to God, and he is obliged to glorify God as His subject, 2 Corinthians 5:15. This truth is taught in the third commandment:
- Commandment Three: Holding To God's Absolute Sovereignty Over Us, Exodus 20:7.
- By way of review, we recall that we Christians are no longer under the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law's Ten Commandments, for we are dead to that law in our position in Christ, Romans 7:4a with 3:23.
- On the other hand, the Law is intrinsically holy, just and good (Romans 7:12), and so Christians will live up to the righteous standards of the Law when they are filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit, Romans 8:3-4! In that frame of reference, we view the Ten Commandments to observe the standard of righteousness we should (and will) reach in thought and action (as Spirit-controlled believers).
- Accordingly, we view Commandment Three: Holding To God's Absolute Sovereignty Over Us, Ex. 20:7:
- Israel was not to take the name of God in vain, or not to make an oath using His name if they did not intend to keep that oath, Exodus 20:7a. God emphasized the fact that He would hold one who misused His name this way guilty of sin as being accountable to Him for this sin, Exodus 20:7b.
- To understand the significance of this command, we view the ancient practice and abuses of oaths:
- By taking an oath in the name of God, one culturally sought to convey to another the certainty of his intent to FULFILL the promise he was making in conjunction with the oath, cf. Ruth 3:13.
- Now, the taking of oaths was not forbidden, a fact that the command in Deuteronomy 6:13 reveals.
- However, by using God's name in an oath, the temptation arose to MISUSE God's authority as a tool to manipulate one's neighbor to one's own unjust ends: one could be tempted to make his neighbor trust a verbal claim to his neighbor by invoking God's name when he had no intent of keeping the claim in the first place. That was similar to using God's power to one's own unjust ends, or to usurping God's authority, cf. Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament , p. 139.
- Abuses of this kind were rampant in Jesus' day. People would not technically take God's name in vain, but leave the impression they meant what they said by swearing by heaven, by God's throne, by the earth, by Jerusalem or by one's head, etc., cf. Matt. 5:33-37. Since the impression was then left that the oath taker meant what he said, the Jews habitually manipulated others unjustly via such misleading oaths. Jesus condemned this practice, telling His hearers to let their "yes" really mean "yes" and their "no" really mean "no." (Matthew 5:37; Bible Knowledge Com., N. T., p. 31)
- Now, since God demanded the people of Israel NOT abuse His authority this way, but to be very careful to use His name in truth and reverence lest He hold them accountable for sin, He was implying man was responsible to SUBMIT to God and reverence Him as being SUBJECT to GOD!
Application: (1) May we believers recall that we were not saved by Christ to serve or to please ourselves, but to please and to serve our Lord, cf. 2 Corinthians 5:15; after all, we were created not for our own pleasure, but for the purposes of our Creator God, cf. Revelation 4:9-11a, 11b! (2) Thus, may we refer to the name of God or of the Lord Jesus Christ or of God the Holy Spirit in very truthful, reverential ways with sincere intent; after all, God holds us accountable to revere and submit to Him in every way!