UNDERSTANDING THE THIRD TO SIXTH COMMANDMENT
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”
Generally, a person’s name is intimately connected with that person’s being and essence. God’s name by which He revealed himself to His people is Yahweh in Hebrew, also known as Jehovah in Greek.
‘And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them’ (KJV).
ii. Jesus forbade swearing in God’s name or by his creation
Some people use God’s name to strengthen their vows or commitments.
But then they do not fulfil their vows or promises. It dishonours God by whom they swear.
Jesus forbade this practice in Matthew 5:34-37:
iii. God forbids false prophecies in His name
A common practice among the people of God was to pronounce, “Thus says the Lord…” even when God had not spoken. When such prophecies were not fulfilled, it brought dishonour to God.
iv. God’s name must not be used to express personal views or opinions
Many people easily attribute to God their own opinions, desires, or views, when God has not revealed anything to them.
16 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.
17 They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’
v. God forbids making casual statements in His name.
Sometimes people make pronouncements in God’s name, which they do not even mean. It cheapens the name of God.
‘If a prophet or a priest or anyone else claims, ‘This is a message from the Lord,’ I will punish them and their household’.
vi. The misuse of God’s name is severely punishable.
God warned that those who used His name in vain would not be held guiltless. He promises to punish whoever misuses His name.
The name of the Lord must not be used in vain in the inordinate desire to look spiritual.
Even as a teacher or preacher of God’s word, you must not use the name of the Lord simply to give the impression that He has spoken to you or through you when indeed you know He has not.
It is therefore important to pray for God’s unction upon your preaching and every sharing of God’s word so that He speaks through you, so that you do not use His name in vain.
2. The fourth commandment – Keep the sabbath holy
‘Saturday or Sunday’ which is the Lord’s Sabbath? Why do we worship on Sunday?
The fourth commandment is one of the most detailed and longest of the Ten Commandments, yet one of the most debated and controversial of them all
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.
Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
• First states the command,
• Outlines the details,
• Gives the rationale, and
• Finally restates the command with new force.
i. The command is to set apart the Sabbath day
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”
The emphasis seems to be on the word “holy” which generally means consecrated or set apart.
This means that the day was to be set apart as a special day for God.
Just like in offering any sacrifice, the focus is not the sacrifice but the person to whom it is offered. The focus of the Sabbath is therefore not the day, but the Lord of the day.
ii. The Sabbath requirement is to abstain from work in God’s honour
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.”
iii. The Sabbath served as a reminder of God’s creation work.
In setting out the commandment, God gives the reason as to why the Sabbath Day was to be considered holy.
“For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.”
iv. Keeping the Sabbath is not an end in itself
By the time of the New Testament, the scribes and Pharisees had expanded the meaning and expectations of the Sabbath such that observing the Sabbath became a burden instead of a blessing.
“One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked
along, they began to pick some heads of grain.
24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
In other words, the focus must be on the Lord of the Sabbath and NOT on the Sabbath of the Lord.
v. The early Church observed the Day of the Lord rather than the Sabbath
Scriptures indicate that in the New Testament, after the Resurrection of Christ, God’s people assembled for worship, mostly on the first day of the week (Sunday) rather than on the seventh day (Saturday).
“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.”
vi. There should be no contention over the observance of Sabbath
Paul advised that people should not fight over the observance of days.
“One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord”.
3. The Fifth Commandment – Honour your Parents
“Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
i. The call to honour parents is not age bound
12 “Honour your father and your mother…
ii. Younger children are expected to obey their parents
In the early stages of life, parents are expected to provide guidance and direction to their children. In response, younger children are expected to be obedient and follow instructions of their parents.
iii. Older people are expected to respect their parents
At an older age, though adult children may be independent of their parents and may have their own opinions and ideas, they are to regard the parents with respect and honour that is due to them.
“Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old”.
This means that though you may disagree with your father and mother, you must still show respect for them and their ideas. You can express your personal opinion but in a respectful manner. You must always hold the disposition that Jesus held with His father.
iv. Jesus honoured His mother by granting her request.
At the wedding feast in Cana in Galilee, the mother of Jesus asked Him to help with
the wine that had ran out. Jesus did not consider it appropriate for Him to do anything.
“When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
v. Jesus honoured His Father by submitting to God’s will.
At the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus found his father’s assignment too hard and too
painful for him to accomplish. Jesus prayed to be excused from the assignment.
‘Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.’
vi. Honouring parents also means caring for them.
As parents grow older, what they need most is love, support and appreciation. They need ideas and opinions on sometimes complex issues of the family.
They need special food, medication, or housing. You therefore show them honour by providing these needs.
Before He died, Jesus ensured the care of His mother.
26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”
From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
vii. Honouring parents comes with the promise of blessing.
The Commandment to honour parents is the only command with a promise. God promises long life to those who honour their parents.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Paul further expounds on this and says that it also bestows prosperity.
2 “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise– 3
“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
viii. Dishonour for parents was to be severely punished.
God instructed that those who disobeyed their parents were to be brought to the elders for punishment.
18 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him,
19 his father and mother shall take
hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town.
20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.”
21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.”
4. The Sixth Commandment – Do not murder
The sixth commandment is perhaps among the most known commandments. This Commandment is about the respect for the sanctity of life.
i. God forbids the taking away of another person’s life
‘You shall not murder’.
Life is a gift from God that He breathed at creation. Therefore, only God has the authority and right to take away a person’s life.
And because we’re made in God’s image, murder is a direct attack against God.
ii. God considers killing or wounding the unborn punishable
22 “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court
23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life,
24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”
This shows that to God, the life of the unborn is just as precious as that of the adult.
This means that, in God’s eyes, those who commit abortion are guilty of murder.
iii. Jesus declared rage to be as bad as murder
Jesus broadened the scope of this commandment even further. Jesus puts anger and uncontrolled rage at the same level with murder.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment”.
Therefore the Bible warns against holding anger for a long time.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
27 and do not give the devil a foothold.”
iv. Contempt and slander are as bad as murder
Jesus declared that to speak ill of a person is like murdering the person.
“…. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
“Raca” was a term of great contempt and was used to signify a vain, empty, worthless fellow – one with shallow brains. Jesus says that to hold a person in such contempt is equivalent to murder, possibly because in your mind and heart, the person is as good
as if they were dead! Paul advised that we should get rid of such practices.
‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.’
God expects us to honour him. God expects us to keep the Sabbath holy. God expects us to honour our parents. God expects us to uphold the sanctity of human life.
These we must do without excuse or failure.
1. Discuss ways in which we sometimes use the name of the Lord in vain.
2. ‘So help me God’! In view of the prohibitions to misuse God’s name, should Christians take this public oath?
3. In what ways do you think hatred and stereotyping of people of other communities would be in breach of the Sixth Commandment?