Summary: Mother's Day 2012 Message.

“Questions about the Fifth Commandment”

Exodus 20:12

Over the past few weeks, we have been examining the 12th chapter of the book of Hebrews and its focus upon practical Christian living.

Those of you who were here likely remember that I made a point that all of Christian ethics can be boiled down to two points:

We are to live in peace with other people.

We are to live in holiness toward God.

This is best described by Jesus when He made this point:

Matthew 22:37–40 ESV “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

It is interesting that Jesus here says that on these two commandments “depend” all of the Law and the prophets.

The reason for this is that if you distill the commandments of God - the ten commandments - down to two points, it is this:

How we live toward God.

How we live toward each other.

The first four commandments focus on God.

Have no other gods before the Lord.

Do not make any graven images.

Do not use the Lord’s name in vain.

Remember to keep the Sabbath holy.

The last six deal with our relationship with one another.

Often these are called “The Laws of the Second Table” because the attention has gone from our treatment of God to our treatment of others.

Interestingly, the first of these commandments which begins the discussion of our treatment of one another is the one which deals with the treatment of our parents.

Commandment 5 addresses our responsibility to “Honor” our father and mother.

And as today is the day which our nation has set aside to honor mothers, I want to spend some time giving an exposition of this commandment.


From birth, the very first relationship that we are in as human beings in this world is the relationship with our parents - especially our mothers.

It is our mother’s arms which we are placed in first after having been born.

It is from our mother’s touch that we receive warmth and comfort.

Her very body produces milk which quenches thirst and satisfies hunger.

For the first years of our lives, this relationship to our mother is the highest and most important in regard to security, love and comfort.

Mother’s arms can warm a feverish chill.

Mother’s kiss can heal an open wound.

Mother’s smile can mend a broken heart.

Along with the father, the mother is the window through whom we learn about and understand the world around us.

Is there any wonder, then, as to why the very first commandment about how to deal with our earthly relationships focuses on our first earthly relationship?

This morning we are going to consider three questions derived from this text:

What does the term “honor” mean?

How is the accompanying “promise” fulfilled?

Is there an age which causes this command to “expire”?

What does the term “honor” mean?

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

The word “honor” here actually comes from a root word which means “heavy”.

Kabad or Kabed - to be heavy.

In a bad sense it means burdensome or severe. Someone might say that a punishment was too “heavy”. This word could be used in that way.

In a good sense it means numerous, rich or abounding.

If used causatively, it means to make more weighty.

As such, when it described bad - it means “heavily bad”

And when it is used to describe good - it means “abounding good”

Certainly, in this sense, it is being used to describe the “good” or “honorable” way a children should behave toward parents.

NET BIBLE “The verb dE;bA;k (Kabbed) is a Piel imperative; it calls for people to give their parents the respect and honor that is appropriate for them. It could be paraphrased to say, give them the weight of authority that they deserve. Next to God, parents were to be highly valued, cared for, and respected.” [W. Hall Harris, ed., The NET Bible Notes (1st, Accordance electronic ed. Richardson: Biblical Studies Press, 2005), n.p.]

So, in laymen’s terms it might be easy to say that this term actually means to be “heavily reverent” in our behavior toward our parents.

In fact, this term reverence is used elsewhere:

Leviticus 19:3 ESV “Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.”

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