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HONOURING THE ELDERLY HONOURS GOD — I must return to the issue of whether morality is fixed or mobile. We should ask ourselves whether a list of musty ceremonial laws can really be vital to our well-being as Christians. Surely, there is nothing of value for us in this outdated recitation of covenantal law, living, as we do, in the Twenty-First Century? Whenever you read a chapter of the Bible, you should take note of the phrases that are repeated. You should carefully note key words that occur. Ask yourself what God’s purpose might have been in including that passage in His Word.
One thing I observe as I read this chapter is the repetition of one phrase at the conclusion of each new command. Sixteen times Moses represents God as concluding a particular law by saying either, “I am the LORD your God,” or by simply saying, “I am the LORD.” The theme of the chapter is found in VERSE TWO and repeated by Peter in 1 PETER 1:15, 16. “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” The emphasis, therefore, is upon the need for God’s people to distinguish themselves from the pagans of the world. God’s people distinguish themselves from the pagans by reflecting His holy character in the way they live. We do not live as the world lives because we remember that we serve God and because we know that we represent Him before the world. Our manner of life matters!
As God presents these numerous commands, He restates the Ten Commandments. The FIRST and SECOND COMMANDMENTS reminded people to worship God only; VERSE FOUR repeats those same commands. The THIRD COMMANDMENT enjoins respect for the holy Name of God; VERSE TWELVE teaches the identical truth. The FOURTH COMMANDMENT demands a day for worship and refreshment of the soul, and the THIRD VERSE expects the same observance. The FIFTH COMMANDMENT teaches respect for one’s parents, and the THIRD VERSE demands the same respect.
The SIXTH COMMANDMENT condemns murder; the SIXTEENTH VERSE demands the same respect for life. The SEVENTH COMMANDMENT proscribes adultery, and the TWENTY-NINTH VERSE addresses the same sin. The EIGHTH COMMANDMENT warns against theft, and VERSE ELEVEN warns against the same evil. The NINTH COMMANDMENT debars false accusations, and VERSE SIXTEEN also warns against such falsity. The TENTH COMMANDMENT exposes greed as a sin, and VERSE EIGHTEEN warns against the same wickedness.
The repetition of the demand to remember who gave the command and the close association with the previous delivery of the Decalogue emphasises that we live in a world with fixed laws of morality. We do not avoid murdering others simply because we don’t want to be murdered; rather we do not murder because God says it is wrong to do so. We do not avoid stealing simply because society has decided that stealing would disturb the Queen’s peace;
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