This week we are memorizing:
Do not use Yahweh your God’s name as if it were of no significance.
14 Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! 15 These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! 16 Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young will see visions.
Your elders will dream dreams.
18 Even upon my servants, men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will cause wonders to occur in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and a cloud of smoke.
20 The sun will be changed into darkness,
and the moon will be changed into blood,
before the great and spectacular day of the Lord comes.
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved [Joel 2:28-32].
Acts 11:19-21, 26
19 Now those who were scattered as a result of the trouble that occurred because of Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. They proclaimed the word only to Jews. 20 Among them were some people from Cyprus and Cyrene. They entered Antioch and began to proclaim the good news about the Lord Jesus also to Gentiles. 21 The Lord’s power was with them, and a large number came to believe and turned to the Lord…. 26 It was in Antioch where the disciples were first labeled “Christians.”
When the apostle Peter quoted Joel 2 in his sermon on the day of Pentecost (just 50 days after Jesus' crucifixion), the key verse with which he ended was again one that, in Hebrew, used the divine name: “everyone who calls on Yahweh’s name will be saved.” Peter showed how strongly and quickly early Christians linked Jesus' gift of salvation with the saving power of Yahweh in the Hebrew Scriptures. Meanwhile, by Acts 11 we find a new name for believers in Jesus surfacing in the city of Antioch, a name still in use (though sometimes too hollowly): Christians.
- This week we’ve seen some of the ways God’s people honored God’s name, not as a kind of magic word, but rather as a sincere expression of Yahweh’s life-giving and life-changing power. And not long centuries after his earthly life, but within a very few years, we see a similar desire to honor Jesus the Christ. Scholar Craig Keener wrote of the word “Christians” in Antioch: “The title seems a political nickname (resembling Pompeiians— members of Pompey’s party— and other titles of political parties). Those who believed that Christ was king could be accused of treason, and the title “Christians” became a legal charge (1 Peter 4:16), though it was soon embraced by Jesus’ followers as a welcome title.”* It seems fitting to end our study of the third commandment by reflecting on Peter’s words: “honor God as you bear Christ’s name.” Identify one or two ways you wish to more fully honor God in your life as a “Christian.”
Lord Jesus, keep growing in me a quality of life that honors your name, and shines your glorious love and grace like a beacon to all the people who come in contact with me. Amen.
Honor God’s name by worshipping Him! Create a special worship box for your home. (You can purchase plain ones at a craft store or simply use a shoebox.) Design the outside with words, pictures and symbols representing your family and faith. Inside place objects that help your family worship together. You might include a Bible, a prayer cloth, a candle, items from nature, pictures, art supplies, and Christian music. Each week spend some time worshipping together at home. You might also try going on a nature walk and praising God for creation or serving in a nursing home or soup kitchen. Whether in a time of intentional worship or in everyday life, always use the name of God with respect and love.
* Zondervan, NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Location 248892). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
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Darrell Holtz serves as Program Director for Adult Curriculum and Writing at Church of the Resurrection. He has two adult children, and two smart, handsome grandsons.