SHABBAT, 29 Heshvan 5778 — יוֹם שַׁבָּת כט חֶשְׁוָן ה' תשעח Saturday, 18 November 2017
The 3rd Commandment:
Treating God As If He Does Not Exist

Ground Rules

To begin this discussion, I will insist upon several ground rules for you to indulge me in:

First, I ask that you entertain the idea that the Creator of the universe not only exists, but is the Supreme Being; when I speak of "God", that is to whom I am referring; Second, I ask that you entertain the idea that the entire Bible - both volumes of Jewish Scriptures, the Tanakh (aka, Old Testament) and the Brit HaHadashah (aka, new testament) were written by inspiration of God; Third, when I am speaking of God, I ask that you understand that I am speaking of the God of Israel; by Israel, I mean the people that are the decedents of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I would like to start out this message by declaring the 3rd Commandment and giving a short 'drash' on it:):

The common translation for this passage is expressed in the English Standard Version:

You shall not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20:7 English Standard Version).

The Hebrew word (Shav) is translated as "vain" by many translations. In the dictionary, is defined as "nothingness, vanity, inanity; falsehood, lying, vainness, sin, wickedness, calamity." Another form of the word, is defined as, "a roaring, crashing, tumult, storm, tempest, destruction, desolation, ruin."

I can see how the word may be translated as "vain", but it is my opinion that most English speaking people understand this commandment, and, in context, the English word "vain" to mean "to curse, or to blaspheme". I think that understanding betrays the true meaning of the command.Thus, I think the following paraphrase better captures this passage's meaning:

"You shall not treat the name of the LORD your God as if He does not exist, as if He is nothing; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that expresses the essence of his being, that acts out his life, as if God does not exist."

To me, that better expresses the meaning of the Hebrew.

I believe that same thought is understood when we recite the words of the Shema every Sabbath:

"HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

To further illustrate the point I would like to make, in the New Testament book of Mark, Yeshua is asked about the most important commandment:

And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?"

And Yeshua answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD.

'And thou shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.

"And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.

"And the scribe said to Him, 'Well said, Rabbi. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He.

"And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

"And when Yeshua saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And after that no one dared ask Him any question.

(Mark 12:28-34)

If we consider the command about treating the name of the LORD as if He does not exist, then conversely, when we recite the Shema and declare that we essentially Love the LORD our God with all of our being, we are saying that He is everything to us. In essence we are declaring that He encompasses all of our thought processes, our entire sense of being, every aspect of our lives, and that every decision we make is done as if we were in His divine presence, seeking His approval!

If we understand the 3rd commandment in that sense, we should consider how we are to behave when we are "in the world". For example, if we join our co-workers in vulgar speech, if we let our fantasies run wild and we lust after a member of the opposite sex, if we treat our loved ones with disrespect, and all other such things, then we must consider that we are doing so as if we were in the presence of Almighty God, AND, to His face, treating Him as if He is nothing, as if He does not exist.

"Do not be deceived, 'Bad company ruins good morals.' Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame." (1 Corinthians 15:33-34)

Since we are commanded to love the LORD our God with the entire essence of our being, we must learn to control our thoughts and our thought processes as if they also are in the very presence, and under the careful scrutiny of Almighty God!

As I have been dwelling on giving this message, the thought occurred to me about standing in the Presence of God at the final judgment. The idea came into my mind, "Will God judge me for my best behavior or for my worst behavior?" Immediately, my thoughts carried me to a common scene of driving on the freeway -- how most everyone in this area drives as if there is no tomorrow - but when they come upon a law enforcement officer, every one slows down and behaves as if that is the way they normally drive, showing courtesy and respect to others! Again, the thought comes to mind, "Will God judge us for our best behavior or for our worst behavior?." The more I consider it, I believe we will all be judged by our worst behavior.

 

A couple of weeks ago, Bob Brass spoke to us about the battle for the mind. I encourage you to go to our website, www.sarshalom.us, to the "teachings" link, and listen to Bob's message from September 16, 2005. He said that we were in a battle whether we recognized it or not.

Perhaps, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 captures some of that sense:

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of the Messiah, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled."

There are several other passages that express this thought, showing that by our actions we can cause the name of God to be blasphemed.

Speaking to King David when he had sinned with Bathsheba and had her husband killed, Nathan the prophet made this statement:

"Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme,..." 2 Samuel 12:14a

Ezekiel 36:22 expresses this same concept:

"Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came."

The Apostle Paul gives us the sense of this in Romans 2:17-24:

Indeed, you are called a Jew, and rest on the Torah, and make your boast in God,

and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the Torah,

and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,

an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the Torah.

You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?

You who say a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

You who make your boast in the Torah, do you dishonor God through breaking the Torah?

For "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you, " as it is written."

I look at all these things as expressing that God is very concerned with how we control our thought processes. It is my understanding that the thought processes manifest themselves in the way we treat others.

In conclusion, I will re-declare the 3rd commandment with my paraphrase, followed by several select verses from the book of Philippians, and ending with the doxology from the end of Romans:)

"You shall not treat the name of the LORD your God as if He does not exist, as if He is nothing; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that expresses the essence of his being, that acts out his life, as if God does not exist."

Philippians 3:1-3

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!

For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Messiah Yeshua, and have no confidence in the flesh,

Philippians 3:13-21

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Messiah Yeshua.

Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

Nevertheless, to the degree we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of the Messiah:

whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame - who set their mind on earthly things

.For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Yeshua ha Mashiach,

Who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Philippians 4:1

Therefore, my beloved and longed for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Messiah Yeshua.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things.

The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Romans 16:25-27

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my good news and the preaching of Yeshua ha Mashiach, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began

but now has been made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith -

to God, alone wise, be glory through Yeshua ha Mashiach forever.

Amen