Respecting The Name of The Lord
I shutter at the blatant disregard for the sanctity and reverence for God’s Name, His Word, and His House. We have become so callous and indifferent about worship and respect for the things of God that we actually forget who it is that we are supposed to honor. But it hasn’t always been that way. During Old Testament times the name of Jehovah was so precious that the people were not even to utter the name of false gods on their lips (Joshua 23:7). If they did they would blaspheme the name of Jehovah by allowing both names to come out of the same mouth.
As idolatry increased, the rabbis wanted to reinforce their belief in monotheism, so they recognized Jehovah as the only proper name of God. Eventually, to them, the name Jehovah became too holy to pronounce.
The rabbis referred to it as ‘the name’ or ‘the distinguished name’ or the Tetragrammaton (for the 4 letters, YHWH).
As time went on, the name Jehovah was pronounced by the priests when blessing the people. Outside the temple, they used the name Adonai. During the year, the name Jehovah was pronounced only 10 times. All ten occurred on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) by the High Priest so the pronunciation would not be forgotten.
Since the name of God was synonymous with holiness, to profane the name was a terrible sin. Some rabbis believed that to profane the name of God was one of the sins for which there is no forgiveness. Fortunately, for many people today, God forgives profanity. (1 John 1:9)
Before Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1452, Scriptures had to be copied by hand. Rom 3:1-2 tells us that the Jews were entrusted the safekeeping and guarding of the Hebrew OT. Just how did the Jews safeguard the Scriptures to ensure that there would be no copying errors in the Hebrew Scriptures? There were 8 rules applied by the scribes in copying the Scriptures. I am listing these rules here to show the great care taken in copying the Scriptures:
1. Preparation of a clean parchment taken only from the skin of clean animals.
2. Each column consists of at least 48 lines, and contains no more than 60 lines. Lines must be drawn before any copying is done.
3. The ink used must always be black, and is prepared according to a special recipe.
4. The scribe is not allowed to write from memory. He must have an authentic copy before him. Before writing, he must first read and pronounce aloud each word. This is to prevent any duplications, or omissions of words.
5. Whenever he has to write God’s name (ie, Elohim), he must first clean his pen. But before writing the name “Jehovah” (KJV “LORD”), he will have to wash his whole body. In writing the name Jehovah a scribe would stop, take another quill to write only that name, then he would destroy the quill so no other word could be written with the same quill. This is the kind of carefulness and reverence shown to God’s Word.
6. Strict rules govern the forms of the letters, spaces between letters, words, and sections, the use of the pen, and the color of the parchment etc.
7. If there is a need to correct the manuscript, it must be made within 30 days after the work is finished; otherwise the manuscript would be considered worthless. One mistake on a page condemned the whole page, and if there are three mistakes in any page, the entire manuscript was destroyed.
8. The proofreading involves the laborious process of counting every word and every letter in the manuscript to ensure that it matches with the original. If there is an omission or addition of just one letter, or if one letter touched another, the manuscript was condemned and destroyed at once.
I urge you to return to this level of reverence for the Lord’s Word, the Lord’s Name and the Lord’s House. When we come into the sanctuary on Sundays and Wednesdays, let us develop an attitude of humility and respect for God’s presence. For His spirit is in this place and He inhabits the praises of His people. Imagine for a moment if The Lord were actually here in a physical form. How would you behave? What kind of demeanor would you assume? Would you change anything from the way you normally conduct your Sunday morning routine?
My advice: Let’s honor God’s Word and His House properly beginning today and from here on. Revere Him, but hold nothing back as you bow down and praise and worship Him with all of your heart, mind, soul and body.
Oh, how I love your law! I think about it all day long. 98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for your commands are my constant guide. 99 Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your decrees. 100 I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments. 101 I have refused to walk on any path of evil, that I may remain obedient to your word. 102 I haven’t turned away from your laws, for you have taught me well. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste; they are sweeter than honey. 104 Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.
Psalm 119:97-104 (NLT)