Summary: 4 of 6 messages on building a Godly home. This message examines what it means to obey the fifth commandment from the vantage point of an adult.


Treating Parents Right

June 3, 2007

The Fifth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Exodus 20;12

I read somewhere recently that the 10 Commandments are really God’s 10 principles for preventing pain. This Sunday I’ll be teaching on the fifth commandment, "Honor your father and mother." Not only does it prevent pain when followed - this commandment comes with a promise - long and good life.

But our world doesn’t value this commandment. Just consider the way that many TV programs depict parents as morons and way too stupid to be cool. It didn’t used to be this way. I grew up with Ozzie and Harriot, Fred McMurrey, in My Three Sons, and Leave it to Beaver. (Many of you have never seen these shows but you may have heard of them. They were all popular in the ’50s!) In all of these shows the smartest man in the room was dad and the wisest woman was mom. Kids were never as smart as their parents.

But today, let’s face it: Homer and Marge Simpson do not make you want to respect them. Did you realize that the Simpson’s have been a staple on American TV for 18 years now? Your kids have grown up with Bart being smarter than his dad for their entire lives. Besides the Simpson’s there are a whole host of other shows and movies that show dad and mom to be beyond hope. We live in a world that marginalizes mom and dad and emphasizes the culture of youth.

And it’s not just the kids - the command is for grown adults to honor their parents. This Sunday let me take you back to the plan for building a solid, secure, and peace filled home. It’s God’s plan and it works.

On Mother’s day we spoke of the noble woman. A couple of weeks ago we looked how God wants us to build our homes on the foundation of a Godly marriage. Last week Tyler spoke about the importance of communication and connection between the generations a family. Today we speak on what it means to honor your father and mother – a command with a promise of long life.

People of the Covenant

The Ten Commandments were part of an Existential Covenant

Bar Mitzvah means “Son of the commandment”

An existential covenant. There is one more important thing to realize about the Mosaic or Law Covenant. Its focus is entirely on the present experience of a living generation of Israelites. In this too it stands in contrast with the other biblical covenants. The promises given to Abraham, to David, and in the New Covenant look ahead to the distant future for their fulfillment. Thus these tell what God will do at history’s end, when His purposes will be finally fulfilled. But the Law Covenant said to living Jews, “If you obey Me and keep My Law, then you will experience blessings, now.”

Covenant renewal. The fact that the Law’s purpose was to guide the present experience of living generations, and that its blessings and punishments were to be experienced by them, is reflected in the way new generations of Jews were invited to “enter” that covenant relationship. One of Moses’ last acts as a leader was to call a new generation before the Lord and, setting out the blessings and the curses associated with Law, to invite them to “enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day” (Deut. 29:12). Still later, Joshua called yet another generation to him and demanded, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15). And the people responded. They committed themselves to serve the Lord and obey His voice (v. 24). That generation too entered the covenant.

Even to this day individual Jews agree to accept and abide by the relationship with God defined by the Mosaic Covenant. The infant is circumcised on the eighth day, indicating that his parents choose to bring him under the covenant with Abraham, and to affirm his identity as a Jew. But then, at 13, each Jewish boy makes a personal decision. At his bar mitzvah (Aramaic for “son of the commandment”) he repeats ancient words, accepts the obligations the Law spells out, and by his own choice commits himself to live under the rule of God’s Law.

The point of all of this is that this commandment and all of the commandments are not for children. They are for adults. It’s not just the kids that need to honor their parents – it’s you and I as well.

So this morning let’s look at this commandment from the perspective of being an adult. Let me give you some very practical and specific ways for you to honor your mother and father. In fact, let me suggest four gifts you can give your parents that give them honor.

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