Summary: Failure to respect the elderly within a given society ensures God’s censure. Modern attitudes spell the death of contemporary western society, unless we return to the attitude and practise outlined in God’s Word.
“You shall stand up before the grey head and honour the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.”
This coming Sunday will mark the thirty-ninth year of legalised murder of the unborn in the womb for citizens of the United States. Arising from the fatuous discovery of a “right to privacy” within the Constitution of the United States of America, four Supreme Court justices, with three concurring justices, justified slaughter of the innocent for reasons of convenience. The infamous decision known as “Roe verses Wade” has resulted in the death of approximately 55 million unborn infants in that nation. That decision by the United States Supreme Court in 1973 has served as the foundation for an ongoing holocaust perpetuated in Canadian abortuaries. There were almost three million infants aborted in utero in Canada during the period between 1969 and 2005, most following the decision of the US Supreme Court.
The third Sunday of January is traditionally observed as the Right to Life Sunday. The date was chosen by evangelical Christians to emphasise the fundamental right of all people to life since it is the Sunday closest to the date when the infamous decision was announced in the United States. Accordingly, this day is set aside each year to encourage us to remember that God—not man—gives life, and to learn what God has to say concerning the life He gives.
At the time the moral tsunami known as Roe v. Wade was unleashed on an unsuspecting public and an unprepared church, a seminary situated on the West Coast of the United States invited me to provide a scientific assessment of the basis for the ruling. That assessment was published as part of a position paper drafted by Dr. James L. Higgs. I went beyond the requested assessment, addressing what I saw as an even more fundamental terror that would no doubt result from the judgement. I opined then, and events seem to be lending credence to my concerns, that if we failed to respect life when it is most vulnerable, then as a society we would justify taking life at any stage. If abortion became the law of the land, murder of the mentally incompetent, murder of the physically handicapped, and murder of the elderly would shortly be legalised.
Whenever a society fails to respect life at any stage, all life is jeopardised. God surely understood this truth and emphasised the need to have a moral standard that was not subject to the whim of the moment or changed by the cause of the day. Is morality fixed? Or is morality determined on a sliding scale? Are right and wrong determined by an unchanging standard? Or are right and wrong determined by the voice of the majority? We who are Christians are compelled to confess that morality is fixed.
In our text today, we discover that God has established an unchanging moral standard. Few of us read the Levitical Law for enjoyment. Many of us consider the Book of Leviticus to be a literary wasteland. Many Christians resolve each year that to read through the Bible. They enjoy Genesis, perhaps even making it all the way through Exodus (or at least reading through the Ten Commandments), and then skipping to Deuteronomy, or they possibly even skip to Joshua so that they can get a little action.
To anyone reading the NINETEENTH CHAPTER OF LEVITICUS, it appears as if God has included a collection of unrelated laws simply thrown together because they do not fit anywhere else. It seems almost as if Moses was looking for a place to park these laws. We almost get the impression that he breathed a sigh of relief when he had at last found a place for inclusion of these miscellaneous laws. There is a theme for the chapter, however, and in the midst of the collection of sixteen various regulations is one that speaks pointedly to the theme of respect for life—the theme for this particular Sunday.
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!