First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday ~ October 23, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Honor Your Parents!”
Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-4
As we continue to make our way through the Ten Commandments, the Ten Words of Exodus chapter 20, we get to reflect this morning on the Fifth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” These ten commands, spoken by God Himself directly to His people at Mount Sinai, recorded by Moses in his five books of the law, are given to us for our instruction. “All Scripture,” said Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the servant of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” God’s word is not simply relevant, God’s word is absolutely necessary for growth in grace.
This morning we shift gears as we look into the second table of the Law. As you know, the Ten Commandments may be divided into two sections, each reinforcing the two greatest commandments. The first four commands spell out what it means to love the Lord our God: Not to have any other gods before Him; not to make or serve any idols; not to take His name in vain; and, to keep the sabbath day holy. The last six commands teach us how to love our neighbor as we love ourselves: To honor our fathers and mothers; not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to bear false witness, not to covet anything belonging to our neighbor.
Standing at the head of this second section, the commandment to honor our parents. The reason the Fifth Commandment comes at the head of this second section is that it’s foundational to keeping all that follow. If we truly honor our parents, we will not disgrace their name by becoming a murderer, by being unfaithful to our marriage vows, by stealing, by lying, or by the greed and discontent underlying covetousness.
The Fifth Commandment also works back toward the first four, which means right relation with our fellow humans flows out of right relationship with our God. Two things that I would like to highlight this morning:
First: Honoring Parents is a Foundation of Life
“Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Honoring parents is a foundation of life. The Fifth Commandment is a command to respect, to revere, to obey, and when necessary to care for our parents.
The Hebrew word translated “honor” here is kaved; kaved carries the idea of weightiness, so we are to give weight to our parents. We might say it like this, “You should give your parents a ton of respect!” This is the duty of every child and it sets the pattern for how that child will relate to every other authority structure in life. Scripture teaches us that we are born in sin and in our sin we will be automatic rebels against not only the authority of our parents but of God as well. Parenthood is given by God to prepare the hearts of the little ones to honor God. Late 4th century theologian, Augustine of Hippo, once asked rhetorically: “If anyone fails to honor his parents, is there anyone he will spare?”
The rise and fall of any civilization, the flourishing or diminishing of any culture, the establishment or destruction of any nation begin with the family. Therefore, it is totally appropriate that in one of His 10 bedrock commands God would address the centrality of the family. No wonder that the enemy targets the family today. The state is not the target, rather, it’s the family. Family matters. Family is a foundation of life.
Second: Those who Obey will be Blessed
There is a promise attached to this command. “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” In Ephesians 6:2-3, Paul refers to this command as he says, “Honor your father and mother”—this is the first commandment with a promise — “so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
The question I often gets asked regarding the Fifth Commandment is if longevity is God’s promise for those who obey the command, does that mean those who die young didn’t honor their parents? Absolutely not. Some of the wonderful people who died young had faithfully honored their parents. We have to understand that the promises of the Old Covenant were physical and materialistic in nature, but the promises of the New Covenant are spiritual. Therefore, as believers today, when we obey God’s commands, we are promised life eternal. So instead of looking for a few extra years to be added to our lives here on earth, we look for life eternal.
Friends, the Fifth Commandment says so much to our modern culture. It speaks in such a profound way to the dynamics of community, whether this is the community of the small family, the extended family, Church family, or society as a whole.
This is a timely message because we live in a culture that doesn’t have a high regard for old age. There are other cultures where seniority and eldership mean something. These things mean less in our day and age. Family is under assault. Parental authority is disregarded. The wisdom of seniors is overlooked. So here comes the Fifth Command to call us to a new way to do life. That’s why I said earlier, God’s word is not simply relevant, God’s word is absolutely necessary for this journey we call life. Our true life is found in obeying God’s commands. Our peace, joy, and fulfilment are found in following God’s way. “Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight” Psalm 119:33-35. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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