Centuries ago, ancient Hebrew scribes scrupulously copied the text of the Old Testament again and again as a way of preserving Scripture for future generations. In doing so, they had to write the name of God countless times.
But they so highly regarded His name that they used only the consonants “YHWH” to denote His name and refrain from misusing it. Biblical scholars are not sure exactly what the vowels were for the divine name of God known today as the tetragrammaton. “Yahweh" is our closest guess.
Before a Massoretic scribe would write the name of God, he would first wash himself and then use a new pen. This was to show respect for the name of God and to carefully keep from breaking the Third Commandment. (Ex 20:7)
A Jew never even dared to utter the name of God when reading Scripture aloud. Instead he would substitute “Adonai,” which means "Lord" or "Master.” This may be the reason the disciple Matthew most often used the phrase "kingdom of heaven" instead of "kingdom of God" like the other gospel writers.
Now, don’t misunderstand. Faithful men and women throughout the Bible spoke the name of God. God is our Father and we should speak His name also. But we should never be casual or crass in doing so. I think we could all benefit from having a little of the Jewish people’s fear factor.
We should guard ourselves against using God’s name without respect or "in vain" as the Third Commandment says. “God” is not a stand-in for "Wow!” So how about your “fear factor?” Think about how you regard and reverence God. Check out the questions below and do a self-assessment.
Measure if you have an appropriate level of “fear of the Lord” by the way you answer the below questions.
1. Do you say the name of God casually? For example, “Oh Lord!” or “Oh my God!”
2. How do you feel when you hear someone say God’s name as profanity?
3. Do you consider the clothes you choose to wear to worship as an act of worship?
4. When someone else is leading in prayer, what or whom are you focused upon?
5. What times or places do you consider "sacred?"
6. Do the words you choose in everyday conversation reflect reverence for God?
7. Do your entertainment selections reveal that all of life is sacred?
8. Does your life demonstrate the character of God?