PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 20:12; Word #5 – Honor

08/14 Exodus 20:12 Word #5 Honor

We are studying God’s ten words to the people he redeemed from slavery in Egypt and bought to be his own. He is now giving them his house rules, what it looks like to be in relationship with him. He starts with himself, because everything is all about God. He introduces himself as the self-existent one, YHWH, who brought them out of slavery. His first four words of instruction are about our vertical relationship with our Creator and Redeemer. You shall have no other gods, I am to be worshiped exclusively. You shall not misrepresent me by using images in worship. You shall honor my name, my character, my reputation. You shall honor me with your time and set aside time to enjoy our relationship.

Now, in commandment five, there is a shift in focus from the vertical relationship with our God to our horizontal relationships with our fellow men. And it’s instructive to see where he starts. We might think he would start with the sanctity of life – you shall not murder. Or with the most basic unit of society, the marriage relationship – you shall not commit adultery. Or, he could start with being satisfied with God alone – you shall not covet. But instead he starts here:

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Honor God Alone or Honor Parents?

Honor father and mother. This is a surprising command, because he has just finished telling us that we are to honor, reverence, and worship God alone. And now he tells us to honor or reverence someone else, namely our parents. The Hebrew word translated ‘honor’ here is interesting. The same root word is used in Exodus 14 three times for God ‘getting glory’ over Pharaoh (v.4,17,18). The Hebrew word “Kabad”, translated honor or reverence or glory literally means ‘heavy’ or ‘weighty’. God is not to be taken lightly. He is substantial. He is to be treated, not with an ounce, but with tons of respect. We are to weigh what he says with great gravity. This word for honor or glory shows up in Psalm 22.

Psalm 22:23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

Fear him, praise him, honor or glorify him, stand in awe of him. That is how we are to respond to God. Now this is extended to human parents.

In fact, in Leviticus 19, this word for fear is extended toward mother and father:

Leviticus 19:3 Every one of you shall revere (AV fear) his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.

How is it that we are to reverence, fear, and honor God alone, and yet he extends this same reverence, fear, or respect to our parents? Isaiah (48:11) tells us that God will not give his glory to another, and yet he commands that we give glory or honor to our parents.

In Hebrews chapter 12, there is a parallel drawn between our earthly fathers, who discipline us, and to whom we owe respect, and God, who treats us as sons and disciplines us for our good. We are to honor our parents as an extension of God’s authority. The authority of parents is derived from God’s authority. Parents serve as a visible extension of God to us. Paul expands this general principle to all governing authorities in Romans 13. He says

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. …4 for he is God’s servant for your good. …he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. … 6 … for the authorities are ministers of God…

Parents receive their authority from God. They have been appointed by God, and they serve God in administering his authority. Paul concludes

Romans 13:7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

We owe a debt of honor to God and to our parents. We demonstrate that we honor God by honoring those he has placed in authority over us. To dishonor parents is to dishonor the one who gave them to us.

John asserts that we cannot disconnect how we treat people on the horizontal level from what we think of God on the vertical level.

1John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

So showing honor to parents whom God invested with authority is a tangible way of demonstrating that we truly honor God who is the ultimate authority.

Death Penalty for Dishonor

This is a serious issue. God takes honor of father and mother so seriously, that he established the death penalty for children who do not show honor to their parents.

Exodus 21:15 “Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.

Exodus 21:17 “Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.

Leviticus 20:7 Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. 8 Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 9 For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him.

The concrete expressions of dishonor worthy of death were striking parents or cursing parents; we might say talking back to parents. In Deuteronomy, there is a procedure given for how to handle a persistently stubborn, rebellious, disobedient son, who will not respond to discipline.

Deuteronomy 21:18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

In the New Testament we find disobedience to parents showing up in some shocking catalogs of the worst of the worst.

Romans 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

2 Timothy 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self–control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

It might be a shock to our modern ears to hear something as commonplace and tolerated as disobedience to parents listed alongside murder, ruthless, treacherous, abusive, inventors of evil, haters of God.

Why is this so serious? Why death under the old covenant for those who dishonor parents? This disregard for proper human authority demonstrates a disregard for the one who established that authority. We no longer execute disobedient children. But in Romans we are told that the wages of sin is death (6:23), and that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (3:23). We have all failed to give God the glory and honor that we owe to him. The consequences for this God-dishonoring attitude is spiritual death, or eternal separation from God.

What Does It Mean to Honor Parents?

One way we honor God is by honoring parents. Practically, what does this look like? Let’s take a look to the wisdom book of Proverbs to get some snapshots of what it looks like to honor mother and father.

Proverbs 1:8 Hear, my son, your father‘s instruction, and forsake not your mother‘s teaching,

Proverbs 6:20 My son, keep your father‘s commandment, and forsake not your mother‘s teaching.

Proverbs 10:1 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.

Proverbs 15:20 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother.

Proverbs 19:26 He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother is a son who brings shame and reproach.

Proverbs 20:20 If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.

Proverbs 23:22 Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Proverbs 23:25 Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.

Proverbs 28:24 Whoever robs his father or his mother and says, “That is no transgression,” is a companion to a man who destroys.

Proverbs 30:17 The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.

This is what honor looks like: listening to their instruction, not forsaking their teaching, not despising them, not stealing from them, not violent toward them, not cursing, mocking or scorning them, bringing joy and not sorrow to their hearts. We can add this to what Deuteronomy told us about not being stubborn, rebellious, disobedient, or unresponsive to discipline.

Jesus confronted the Pharisees of his day over their encouraging people to violate the fifth command.

Matthew 15:3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. (cf. Mark 7:10-13)

Jesus connects honor of parents directly to how an adult son cares for his elderly parents. The Pharisees allowed a son who wanted to get out of his responsibility to care for his parents to dedicate his assets to God. The primary social responsibility for the care of the elderly falls on their own family. This may have far reaching implications on our own personal finances. Paul even says:

1Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

(This, by the way, is a good argument for having a lot of kids – I want to be well cared for when I’m old!)

The Example of Jesus

We can learn more about what honoring our parents should look like by looking at how Jesus honored his Father.

John 8:49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.

Jesus, in his dispute with the Pharisees, described what it means to honor your father. Jesus said “if you knew me, you would know my Father also” (Jn.8:19). His character was such a perfect reflection of the character of the Father, that to know one was to know the other. Jesus said “I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me” (Jn.8:28). Jesus was in perfect submission to his Father’s authority. He was perfectly obedient to his Father, he listened to and learned from his Father. Even in his speech, he perfectly reflected the Father. He sums up his honor of the Father in this way: “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (Jn.8:29). On two different occasions, the Father attested to this verbally from heaven, saying: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt.3:17; 17:5). Jesus gave us the perfect picture of what it means to honor parents.

Jesus Lord of the Family

But Jesus also said some radical things to his followers about family relationships

Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter–in–law against her mother–in–law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Is Jesus teaching us to violate the fifth commandment? At first glance, it might seem so. But he was simply honoring the priority of God in all things. Where there is a conflict between obedience to God and obedience to parents, we must obey God rather than men. In commandment five, we are told that the child to parent relationship is second in honor only to the relationship of people to God. And Jesus, in saying that you cannot love father or mother more than me, in other words, you must honor me above father and mother, Jesus is blatantly claiming to be God! Jesus demands our allegiance above even family.

Practical Implications

Let’s try to tie this all together. What do we do with all this? First of all, we should keep first things first. We must honor God, we must honor Jesus above all human relationships, even family. He demands first place in everything.

We should follow Jesus’ example, to always do the things that are pleasing to the Father.

We as children must honor, reverence, respect our parents.

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

By extension, we must honor all those God has placed in positions of authority.

Parents, demand honor from your children. Discipline them lovingly, for their good. Do not tolerate disobedience or disrespect. Train them to respect authority. Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Teach them to honor the Lord and those he has placed in authority.

There might be a parent who says ‘but I’m not worthy of honor.’ That may be true, but this is bigger than you. God has given you authority, and he has entrusted your children into your care. In training them how to relate to you as a parent, you are teaching them about God. Do your job.

Parents, act in a manner worthy of honor and respect. If you want to be honored, have character that is honorable. Add to your faith; virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love (2Pet.1:5-7).

This honor or respect is foundational to life and society. Honoring our parents as God commanded is a way of glorifying God. 

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

August 14, 2011 - Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , ,

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