This week I have the privilege of taking the winterim class at The Master’s Seminary. I have gone to the class the last 2 years, and wanted to go to this one even more since it will probably be my last opportunity to do this. The class is “For the Glory of God: A Biblical Theology of Worship” taught by Daniel Block, professor at Wheaton College and renowned Old Testament commentator. I’ll be including little snippets of great things that I’ve learned and that have challenged me. So far I have really enjoyed Block’s pastoral style of teaching. He doesn’t just info dump or read off a list of references, but really gets to the heart of the matter while approaching the text expositionally.
My first thought is what it means to “take the name of the Lord in vain”. Conventionally, this has been interpreted and applied as not swearing or using God’s name casually. Of course, that is part of what this is saying, but that falls short of the whole intended meaning. In that time, there was a practice of writing the name of God on your hand if you wanted people to know that you were a follower of Yahweh. You were taking on the name of God for everyone you meet to know.
Taking the name of the Lord in vain would be failing to live up to the name that you were carrying or writing on you. It was living a life that was contrary to the God you claimed.
We also entered into a discussion of what this means in our prayer lives, and a warning of using God’s name casually or hypocritically in prayer. So often, I can enter into prayer and not think about the Almighty God I’m speaking to. Block also spoke of how often people use the name of God as a filler word in prayers, dropping it without thinking. The thing that got me thinking most was how often I have asked students to pray, only to hear a student treat the prayer lightly and casually. Sometimes something happens and then giggles break out, and my heart breaks that they take prayer so lightly.
The scariest thing I’ve wondered is if I have placed students in positions to sin. Have I asked them to do something that they don’t take seriously? It has definitely caused me to think more seriously, not only about how I pray, but also about who I encourage to lead in public prayers.