Summary: In the Fifth Commandment God gives us freedom as he calls us to live in obedience to our parents
Obey Your Parents
We live in a society that admires disobedience and rebellion.
If you don’t believe me think about how many TV programs and movies there are which portray parents as clueless morons.
We value independence – and we resent having anybody tell us what to do.
More and more parents are being disregarded and disrespected.
Now I know that part of this is the fault of parents.
When you hear constant yelling at children from the house three doors up.
When you laugh because the children have locked the mother out of the house – and she is swearing at them to let her in.
When you see what can only be described as useless parents who are nothing more than a hindrance.
Then you can understand why there is disrespect.
But it is also true that young people are becoming more and more disrespectful to their parents – and obedience is becoming an old-fashioned idea.
Into this scenario the Word of God speaks
Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
This is how God wanted the families of Israel to function. And God was really serious about this.
Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.
If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
Now there is a discipline technique.
Some people look at that and say, “Come on God, don’t be so serious. They are just kids.”
Firstly, let’s recognise this wouldn’t happen to young children. They are not just kids, they are young adults.
They didn’t just go out a throw stones at 8 and 9 year olds.
8-9 year olds are usually not drunkards – and if they are you are a bad parent.
Secondly, we need to understand that this is serious. We see the seriousness when we look at the promise attached to this command.
So that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Because we are so tuned to being individuals we immediately think that this promise is say,
“If I honour my parents I will get to be really old”.
But that isn’t really what is being taught here.
Which is a good thing because we’ve probably known lots of people who were respectful to their parents, but didn’t live to a ripe old age.
The LORD isn’t talking to the people as individuals. He is talking to them as a community.
The promise was “so that you … you the people of Israel … may live a long time in the land that I am giving you. Remember that we are reading from the book of Exodus.
The people of Israel had been brought OUT OF Egypt, but they had not yet entered the Promised Land. Which of course was “the land God was giving to them.”
This is a powerful promise … the LAND promise.
Even today the war in Israel is all about the LAND.
Not as a geographical space … but as the fulfilment of a promise by God.
This command is saying, “Your long term place in the LAND is connected to the way that children obey parents.”
So this is a serious situation, because we show honour to God by being willing to show honour to our parents. Not just when you are younger – but also when you are older.
And when this honour to parents disappears … that means honour to God is disappearing … and this will be followed by the LAND disappearing.
Which is exactly what continued to happen in the history of Israel.
When society structures broke down … and especially family structures … the LAND was taken away.
The LORD was serious about this commandment.
But is God still serious about this commandment today?
Well we know God is serious because the command is repeated in the New Testament.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honour your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”