A Pet Peeve About Bible Translations: A Irrational Fear
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 “You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. Exodus 20:7 (NLT2)
7 ‘You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who misuses his name. Exodus 20:7 (NJB)
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT2)
63 In addition, you must also know how to use the name of God aright. With the words, “You shall not take the name of God in vain,” God at the same time gives us to understand that we are to use his name properly, for it has been revealed and given to us precisely for our use and benefit.
64 Since we are forbidden here to use the holy name in support of falsehood or wickedness, it follows, conversely that we are commanded to use it in the service of truth and all that is good—for example, when we swear properly where it is necessary and required. So, also, when we teach properly; again, when we call on his name in time of need, or praise and thank him in time of prosperity, etc. All this is summarized in the command in Ps. 50:15, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you and you shall glorify me.” All this is what we mean by calling upon his name in service of truth and using it devoutly. Thus his name is hallowed, as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer.
If you compare the first two quote (actually the same exact passage, but from two different translations, and do a bit of research, you will find something very, very ironic.
The first one, like most other translations, fails to use God’s name when they translate the command about not using God’s name! They replace the Hebrew YHWH with the letters LORD (Adonai in Hebrew). The use of all caps in the word LORD is supposed to alert you to the holy precious name of God, (YHWH) is used there.
Why? Because of a man-made tradition that says it is better not to use the name of God, rather than misuse it!. You see the same irrational fear in people today who drop the letter “o” out of the word God, (which is a title) and take pride in using G-d. Some have even taken to doing it with LORD.
And in doing so, they miss the very essence of the command. That God has given us the permission to use His name and expects us to call upon Him in prayer, in praise, to use it in Baptism, to use it to bless others.
To use it. Abundantly!
Now, I am sure that God doesn’t mind us translating it, Or using generic titles like God, Theos, etc, but there seems something wrong with deliberately avoiding His name. Especially when we avoid using it the way He asks because we fear that we might misuse it accidentally.
If we don’t understand how to use His name and fear His wrath from using it incorrectly, we don’t understand the forgiveness offered, and the cleansing of sin that God promises to those that call on His name.
If fear is what motivates us, if we are scared to use His name, we don’t really understand the love and mercy of our God. We don’t’ get that He longs to gather and protect us, as a hen would gather its chicks. We need to know the Father that would let the prodigal walk away, knowing the lesson he would learn as the prodigal finally comes to his senses and comes home. We need to know the joy that is seen when one of his children comes home when He can create a masterpiece of our lives as we trust in Him and His grace.
To put it simply, to not use God’s name properly, is to misuse it..
My friends, use His mane, call upon Him, He is our Abba (a term of endearment for one’s father) DOn’t be afraid, but as Hebrews 4:16 says, come boldly into presence, that we may His richest gifts, and help in times of need.
He is your God, you are His people.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 373). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.