TEXT: Ex. 20:12; Luke 2:41-52; Eph. 6:1-4
INTRO: When God gave Moses the 10 commandments they came on 2 tablets of stone. Tablet #1 had the first 4 commandments on them and dealt exclusively with man’s relationship with God; tablet #2 had the last 6 commandments and they dealt with man’s relationship to man, this would be the natural breakdown for having two tablets since there are two relationships we all deal with.
What is interesting about this breakdown is that each tablet began with a very similar commandment: i.e.
Tablet #1 - To honor God as heavenly father
Tablet #2 - to honor earthly father & mother
These "first" commandments at the top of each stone tablet were the starting points for all that followed on each list. First things – first!
Failure to follow the first commandment of each of the tablets would (no doubt) have an impact on the following the other commandments. There is a very real link with our relationship with our earthly parents and that of our spiritual relationship with our heavenly Father. Statistics tell us that when there are poor relationships with our earthly fathers there are higher crime rates and higher levels of depression and mental illness. This must not be ignored!
Caution: Our soul can rise or fall on what we do with the first commandment, and our society can rise or fall on what we do with the fifth commandment! We need to "plead the 5th!"
The Bible teaches us that there are two truths to consider when we read the 5th commandment:
(1. The call to honor our earthly parents…
(2. And the call to be honorable as earthly parents!
It is not just a call to the children, but also to the dad and mom!
I. THE HONORING CALL
A. Respecting Authority “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Eph. 6:1
1. The first taste of authority a child experiences is that of his/her parents!
2. All humans that become healthy adults pass through 3 stages of learning and living in authority:
a. Early childhood ... enforced obedience.
b. Youth ... willful obedience.
c. Adulthood ... mutual obedience.
3. Having an earthly father who loves their child is critical to this process; children need their dads to become healthy in their understanding of authority.
a. An earthly father’s role on a child can have lasting impact.
ILLUS: James (Jim) Clark is worth around $800 million since he is CEO of the giant corporation of Netscape. His father, Charles Clark, 78, is stricken with poverty and living in a low rent nursing home in Harris County, Texas. He barely survives by drawing less than $500 a month in Social Security. But Jim Clark won’t give his dad a dime. When, through a lawyer, the elder Clark asked for money, Jim Clark told the lawyer nothing doing. Jim Clark stated that, "He abandoned us first." The story goes that old man Clark took off when Jim was just a little boy. -- Forbes, April 8, 1996.
b. Children obviously need a strong male influence to teach them about authority. If there is no father, a child will desperately need someone to provide that much needed male authority.
(1. like churches, scouts, Royal Rangers, school clubs, neighbors, etc.
(2. God also promises to be a "father to the fatherless."
4. This first stage of "enforced obedience" (childhood) is important to a healthy development on authority later!
B. Relationships & Attitudes Luke 2:41-51
1. Jesus no doubt experienced the childhood experience of "enforced obedience" by his parents like all children.
2. While the Bible is silent about those childhood years we do have one glimpse of Jesus in the second phase of authority development, the "youth" stage. ("Willful obedience")
a. It is interesting that this one and only story of Jesus’ "youth" phase has to do with this very issue of authority and “willful obedience!”
b. Jesus was 12, He was BAR-MITZVAH ... meaning He had become a man, the meaning of "bar-mitzvah" is "son of the commandments!"
(1. This was the transition in Judaism from "enforced obedience" to "willful obedience."
(2. Jesus was suppose to now obey his Heavenly Father by His own choice, not just that of His parents!
(3. And, obedience to His earthly parents moved from "enforced" to "willful" as well.
3. Notice how Jesus’ parents had the difficulty moving from phase one to phase two...
a. They are angry that Jesus didn’t head home with them!
b. They come back and find Jesus and say to Him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you!" 2:48b
4. Jesus’ answer to them is NOT a rebuke in 2:49 "Why were you searching for me?" He asked. "Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?"
a. Jesus was surprised by their reaction because He was suppose to be in the second part of authority, “willful obedience”... to both His Heavenly Father (as His earthly father had taught Him!) and His earthly father.
b. Note that after this comment Jesus does go back with them ... and notice the significant response of Jesus in 2:51 "Then He went down to Nazareth with them and WAS OBEDIENT TO THEM."
c. Jesus’ surprise at their reaction and His response to them was NOT a rebuke, Jesus was basically saying to them, "Dad, you taught me to honor my Heavenly father and my earthly father, so now that I am a "man" I am doing exactly what you taught me, why are you surprised that I stayed in my "father’s" house?"
(1. Jesus was only doing what they had taught Him all His life.
(2. It is obvious however by their reaction that they were the ones having the hard time making the transition from Jesus’ childhood to youth!
(3. This is also obvious by the statement in 2:50 "but they did not understand what He was saying to them."
5. Though Jesus was now a man He did continue to "obey them" as 2:51 states, as a youth Jesus practiced the proper development from childhood’s "enforced obedience" to youth’s "willful obedience."
C. Results & Advantages Ex. 20:12b; Luke 2:52
1. Notice the benefits that come from this proper development through these first two stages:
a. In Ex. 20:12b the promise is that Israel as a nation would "live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."
(1. This refers to society, not personal long life spans as some have interpreted it, although it might help in this area too!
(2. This commandment to "honor father and mother" came with this promise (Eph. 6:2-3) ... for Israel to live long in the land God was giving them, a reference to their national existence.
(3. Certainly statistics and history bear out the success of a nation and its survival based on how well the family unit stayed intact and biblical!
(4. This is still true for our nation as well ... and we would do well to heed the dual aspect in Ex. 20:12 of the dangers that come if we fail to teach honoring father and mother, and the blessing that God promises to the nation that adheres to it!
b. In Luke 2:52 right after stating in 2:51 that Jesus went back with them and "was obedient to them" it says, "and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with men."
(1. Jesus too experienced the benefits of proper honor to His earthly parents!
(2. Note that these blessings for properly honoring His earthly parents had both heavenly dynamics to them (grew in favor with His heavenly father) and earthly benefits. (grew in favor with men also!)
(3. The other benefits are listed here as well: "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature..."
2. Israel’s example (both positive and negative!) supports the truth of this commandment, and so does Jesus’ life!
3. Certainly Jesus’ earthly father Joseph had helped shape the way for Jesus, and it bore the proper fruit!
ILLUS: When I was a small boy growing up in Pennsylvania we would often visit my grandparents who lived nine miles away. One night a thick fog settled over the hilly countryside before we started home. I remember being terrified, and asking if we shouldn’t be going even slower than we were. Mother said gently, "Don’t worry. Your father knows the way."
You see, Dad had walked that road when there was no gasoline during the war. He had ridden that blacktop on his bicycle to court Mother. And for years he had made those weekly trips back to visit his own parents.
How often when I can’t see the road of life, and have felt that familiar panic rising in my heart I have heard the echo of my mother’s voice: "Don’t worry. Your Father knows the way." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 201.
4. Dad, we set the course for our children, especially in the area of authority!
II. THE HONORABLE CALL Eph. 6:4
A. Reflecting Authority 6:4a
1. While many adults focus on their kids need to "honor" them Paul writes a balanced passage here in Ephesians 6:1-4.
a. 6:1-3 Paul admonishes the children.
b. 6:4 Paul admonishes the fathers!
2. It is difficult to call our children to HONOR us if we are not HONORABLE!
a. The 5th commandment implies both: children to honor parents, and parents to be honorable!
b. Like all the commandments, stating a positive or negative always implies the other also!
3. For our children to respect authority, we must reflect authority!
ILLUS: A cartoon in the New Yorker showed a father scowling over a very bad report card while his little boy stood by, asking, "What do you think it is, Dad? Heredity or environment?" – Source Unknown
4. Paul admonishes the fathers here to be careful in their use of authority, to keep it healthy.
a. The improper use of authority not only damages our teaching by example but it can aggravate an already bad situation.
ILLUS: Family vacations are wonderful times, but they do have their tedious moments. Dad, Mom, and the two boys were about 200 miles into their trip, when Dad had enough! "Ever since we left home," he said, "you boys have been picking on each other, yelling names and tearing up the back seat of the car. I am putting an end to this now!" He slammed on the brakes, pulled the car off to the side of the road, jerked his sons out and spanked them both soundly. "I don’t want to hear one word out of either of you for 30 minutes," he shouted, "not one word!" The two boys sat still and quiet for at least 30 minutes until the youngest one meekly said, "Daddy, do you remember when you spanked me? Well, one of my shoes came off...!" – Source Unknown
b. We WILL teach our children about authority, it will be either positive or negative, but they will learn from us!
5. Paul certainly recognized that the 5th commandment not only had something for the children, but also something for the dads, a warning to both, and a promise to both!
a. Children not only have to work hard at honoring ...
b. Fathers have to work hard at staying in control (being honorable)!
6. Dads, how well are you reflecting God’s authority to your children?
B. Responsibilities Accepted 6:4b
1. Dad, we are to train our children to follow God’s ways, not man’s!
a. We do this primarily through example.
b. And through teaching.
2. The future is very much in the hands of fathers all over the world!
ILLUS: When it comes to rearing children, every society is only 20 years away from barbarism. Twenty years is all we have to accomplish the task of civilizing the infants who are born into our midst each year. These savages know nothing of our language, our culture, our religion, our values, our customs of interpersonal relations. The infant is totally ignorant about communism, fascism, democracy, civil liberties, the rights of the minority as contrasted with the prerogatives of the majority, respect, decency, honesty, customs, conventions, and manners. The barbarian must be tamed if civilization is to survive. -- Albert Siegel, Stanford Observer
3. The debates over "heredity" or "environment" are nonsense if we don’t accept our responsibility to be honorable dads!
a. Politicians can’t change the future.
b. Institutions can’t change the future.
c. Godly fathers CAN change the future however!
4. It is time dads that we accept the responsibilities given us in God’s Word, then perhaps our children will accept their responsibility to honor us!
ILLUS: A man and his young son were climbing a mountain. They came to a place where the climbing was difficult and even dangerous. The father stopped to consider which way he should go. He heard the boy behind him say, "Choose the good path, Dad; I’m coming right behind you!" -- Author unknown -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 202.
5. Perhaps dad if you "honor your heavenly father" your kids will have an easier time "honoring their earthly father!"
CONCLUSION: The 5th commandment like a coin has two sides to it:
(1. Honoring father and mother
(2. Father and mother being honorable
The first 4 commandments deal with our relationship to our heavenly father, the next section starts off with our earthly father. A home, a city, a church, a school, a business, a nation ... they all depend on how well we get this right!