TEXT: Leviticus 24:10-16; Ezekiel 36:21-23
The students will be able to explain the importance of honoring the Lord’s name. This would include refraining from colloquial or slang derivatives, oaths and blasphemy, and careless or irreverent usage of His name.
Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, was a great prophetic figure in Babylon during the Exile. He was carried to Babylon in 597 B.C., eleven years before Jerusalem was destroyed. A few years earlier, in 606 B.C., other captives had been taken, including Daniel. Daniel had been in Babylon nine years when Ezekiel arrived.
Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon during the years when Jeremiah was uttering God’s message to Judah in Jerusalem. The two prophets declared essentially the same truths, but their backgrounds, as well as their environment gave each an individual cast. Ezekiel probably had a firsthand knowledge of the teaching of Jeremiah, his older contemporary, and like Jeremiah, mourned because of the idolatry of Israel.
Through these prophets, God told His people that the desolate land would someday be inhabited. His people would come home. Israel’s defeat had made men despise the God of Israel as powerless; their return would vindicate His honor. The nations would know, and God’s people would know that He is the Lord. All who returned from exile were truly and permanently cured of idolatry.
Blaspheme: In its technical English sense, signifies to speak evil of God. Webster says: “to speak irreverently of God or things.”
Curse: A prayer for evil, or to invoke evil upon.
Oath: A holy name used profanely, as in anger.
Slang: Word fads; the use of words not approved for careful or formal written language.
It is very important that we be careful not to dishonor the Name of the Lord, or to use His name lightly in any way. In Old Testament times God ordered that anyone who blasphemed His name should surely be put to death. Those who lightly esteem God’s honor might think it unfair to judge a man an offender for a word; but God lets them know that they must not make light of words which come from malice against God in the heart of him that speaks.
- In realizing the importance of keeping the Lord’s name holy, we should try to understand just who God is. Give a short definition of your concept of God.
Response: Allow time for your students to offer their responses. Try to impress on each student the omnipotence, holiness, and eternal existence of God; and that He is not only our Creator, but that even the air we breathe and our very existence depends upon Him. By doing this, the importance of keeping His name holy should be plainly understood.
- Using the following Scriptures, find some of the names which refer to God. Beside each of these, write what facet of God’s greatness we find exhibited.
Response: Genesis 17:1 — “Almighty God.” This shows that God has all power.
Exodus 3:14 — “I Am That I Am.” God is from everlasting to everlasting.
Deuteronomy 32:8 — “Most High.” God is above all others.
Joshua 3:10 — “Living God.” He is alive.
Isaiah 43:15 — “I am the Lord, your Holy One . . . your King.” All of our worship, our adoration, and our praise is due Him. In view of the greatness and holiness of God’s name, bring out that it is sacrilegious for us to use it lightly.
- Taking the Lord’s name in vain can include not only using His name as a swear word, but also using it lightly in slang terms or euphemisms derived from swear words. Give the dictionary definitions for the following common slang terms.
Response: Gee — slang derivative of Jesus
Darn — euphemism for damn
Gosh — euphemism for God
Golly — euphemism for God
Doggone — derivative of God damn
Heck — euphemism for Hell
While your students may be familiar with the definitions for some of these words, it may be enlightening for them to realize that all of them are taken from words that they probably would not ordinarily think of using. Some of these words are not actually taken from the Name of God, but they are inappropriate in a Christian’s vocabulary because of what they represent.
- The Bible teaches us that, as the Son of God, Jesus is entitled to be equal with God (John 5:18; Philippians 2:5-6). The Prophet Isaiah gives to Christ some of the same names attributed to God (Isaiah 9:6). How, then, do you feel the Commandment given in Exodus 20:7 applies in relation to Jesus?
Response: Your students should conclude that it is just as blasphemous to use Jesus’ Name in vain as it is to use His Father’s.
- The Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Trinity, is entitled to all the honor and respect given to God the Father and God the Son. In fact, Jesus gives us to understand that sin against the Holy Ghost is the most serious offense of all (Mark 3:22,28-30). Explain this.
Response: Mark 3:30 tells us that this denunciation Jesus gave to the scribes was because they accused Him of having an evil spirit. God moves in the world through the Holy Spirit whose mission it is to convict and bring men to a place of repentance and forgiveness. Help your students to see that if they reject their only means of coming to Christ, there is no further hope. Thus, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will bring certain judgment.
- In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs us that we are not to swear at all, but that our communication should be yes or no. What do you feel is the meaning of this statement of Christ’s? See Matthew 5:33-37.
Response: Allow time for your students to offer their answers. Explain that this has to do with taking a public or private oath, such as in a courtroom. Such action should be avoided as it is an improper use of God’s name. The law allows an affirmation without having to swear.
- It is dishonoring to God’s name to say or do anything that would cast doubt on His power, or put Him on the same plane as a man. During Hezekiah’s time, King Sennacherib dishonored God and suffered His wrath because of this. Read 2 Kings 18:28-35 and 19:35-37, then describe what happened to this king.
Response: His armies were slain by the angel of the Lord, and he himself was slain by the sword of his two sons. Ask your students if a delay of judgment means it will not come. Bring out that the judgments of God are sure. Just as Sennacherib suffered God’s wrath, so will the person today who dishonors Him.
- Using Mark 12:30-31 as a basis, think of the ones you love the most. Name some ways you show honor and respect for them, and compare this to the respect we owe God, our greatest Friend.
Response: Allow time for your students to express the various comparisons they made. Then reinforce the objective of the lesson by showing that, just as we would never say anything against the name and character of those we love, it is even more important that we do not speak carelessly or irreverently against any member of the Godhead.
- Our love for the Lord and His name is to be taught diligently to our children. Using Deuteronomy 6:4-7, how can parents teach their children this respect for the Lord’s name?
Response: Looking at these verses should bring out the need for constant repetition. Stress the importance of parents’ instructing their children to speak those things which are pleasing to God and to do likewise themselves. Children are great copycats.
- How is it possible to dishonor the Lord’s name, even though we may never swear or use any questionable slang terms?
Response: Allow time for your students to offer their thoughts. Consider these possibilities: by using His name lightly in conversation, by showing no disapproval when those we are speaking with use His name in vain, or by associating closely with those of a blasphemous nature. Use these suggestions to bring out the opportunity we have of letting others see we are Christians by loving and cherishing the Name of Jesus.
- The Bible shows that in the end everyone is going to bow to God and every tongue will confess to Him (Romans 14:11-12; Philippians 2:9-11). What comparison can be made between those who are forced to do so then, and those who do so willingly from their hearts now?
Response: Your students’ comparisons will point out the vast difference between the lost and the redeemed. As a wrap-up to your lesson this should convince each student of the importance of honoring God and His name with our lips, our actions, and our lives.
Bring a list of names to class, putting the Lord’s name at the top. Point out that His name is above every name and is to be exalted. Or use a piece of yarn and hang names written on slips of paper, using Jesus’ name at the top and students’ names underneath.
Divide the class into two teams and have them list all the names given to the Lord in the Bible. The team that can think of the most names wins. Examples: Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father, King of Kings, I Am, Lord of Lords, God, King of the Jews, Son of Man, Son of God, Redeemer, Savior, Messiah, Jehovah, Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, Word, Nazarene, Rose of Sharon, Light of the World, Bridegroom, Immanuel, Bread of Life, Master, Bright and Morning Star, Alpha and Omega, Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Good Shepherd. (And there are many more.)
Find the meanings of the given names of your students. Use these as an opener to lead into the meanings of Jesus’ different names. The name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua which means “Savior” or “God saves.” The meaning of the word Christ is “anointed One.”
Refer briefly to His other names. Tell your students that Jesus’ name is more than just a title. People are healed and demons cast out in the Name of Jesus. Sins are forgiven and salvation received in Jesus’ name. People are gentle with a precious new baby, guard jewels of great worth, and careful of priceless treasures. This is exactly how we should be with Jesus’ name. We wouldn’t say it was all right to drop a baby once in a while, or to lose “just one” jewel, or to put a scratch on one treasure. No! In the same way we must be careful of Jesus’ name—even bits of His name. Ask the students, “How important is Jesus to you? What does His name mean to you?”
On a large sheet of construction paper, write out the verse from Psalm 34:3. As you write the verse, leave out these six words; magnify, Lord, me, exalt, name, together. Leave a space where each word should be so it can be added later. Write those six words on 3" x 5" cards. Use this activity as a positive approach to honoring the Lord’s name. Tell the students they may use their Bibles to look up the verse. Show them each word in turn and discuss what it means. Then write it in the correct space. When you have gone through each word, read the verse in its entirety. Impress upon the students that God’s name is to be exalted rather than passed over as just a handy title.