You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
If there was ever a phrase which suffers from cultural differences, it would be “taking a name in vain.” If the worst we ever did was using God’s names and titles in curses, it wouldn’t be such a concern to Him. Words and incantations were never more than mere symbolism in the ancient Hebrew culture.
We forget too easily He is the Suzerain. He does not want to be associated with things He condemns. The nation of Israel was His peculiar representative on earth, bearing His name rather like Americans carry their flag. Not just dragging it through the mud, but evil is trying to use the moral force of His name as a convenience, as a cover for things He considers destructive of His revelation. The whole point in calling Israel into covenant with Him was not simply to be nice to Israel. Indeed, God eventually says through His prophets the choice of Israel was paradoxically the one nation least likely to obey. The whole point was to show His power — His name — was greater than any obstacle on earth.
By extension, we cannot excuse our failures by hiding it under the mantle of “Chosen by God.” It was just too easy for Israel to develop a self-congratulatory culture when the record shows they seldom gave thought to their mission: They were called to manifest the glory of God to other nations. God was not glorified by Israel’s dominance, but by the dominance of His revelation in the Covenant. We have very little evidence any other nation adopted Jehovah as their God, in large measure because no one wanted to be like Israel. We do have nations which embraced the Talmud, but Jesus said that was most certainly not the Law of Moses. Meanwhile, even today the most hideous filthy crimes are committed under the excuse Modern Israel is the Chosen Nation.
The symbol is not the thing itself. The Decalogue was not God, nor precisely His will, but a divine statement of where to start in considering the kinds of changes necessary to find His will. Those who truly love Him don’t need the Laws as anything more than a reference point. He does not demand success, since He alone can grant success. Rather, He demands a desire to please Him; He says that is what makes Him look good.