May 17, 2020
Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you.
The foundation of our roof is bad.
It’d deteriorated over time.
The damage isn’t irreparable…
But if we don’t have a new roof put on…from the base up…
The whole house would eventually fall.
Our compromised roof is a metaphorical illustration for our compromised culture.
When the base went bad…
The whole society started to crumble.
And it started from the top down.
By top, I don’t men government leaders.
Biblically speaking…the top of the social structure is the family.
The family under the leadership of the Lord
As the family’s adherence to biblical principles has eroded…
The basic social fabric that’s held it together for thousands of years has begun to unravel.
Starting with the fifth commandment…God gives His people the foundational material for a decent society.
The family foundation
The first four commandments are vertical…
They center in the relationship between God and humankind.
The next six are horizontal…
They were given to direct our relationships with other people.
The substructure of our culture needs repaired or…I fear…this house we call our national home…will collapse.
I come at this command from a cultural perspective because it concerns the whole of society.
This is apparent when God writes…that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you.
Who was given the land?
The Hebrews inherited a land beyond the Jordan River as a collection of people…not individual families.
A place to build a nation
Parental honor was understood as the social norm.
The foundation of that nation.
The Hebrew people didn’t think of themselves as a nation made up of individuals.
They were individuals who made up a nation.
Their national conscience meant more than their individual freedoms.
And this is what has held them together for over 5,000 years and through the constant threat of annihilation.
A people who made a nation…not a nation of people.
And this matters because when individual rights surpass the national and social good…
It does not go well in the land which the Lord your God gives.
If one child chooses to honor their father and mother but, another child dishonors theirs…
The social weight of dishonoring pulls down the good and never uplifts it.
Because if a child dishonors his father and mother…he certainly won’t honor yours.
We live on a typical Pittsburgh street.
It’s fairly narrow…hilly…and its marked with potholes.
As I was driving home the other day a young man in a new Mustang passed me going 60 to 70 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone.
He nearly lost control of his car dodging a pothole.
If I could get to know this guy…I’d likely find that he’s a man that doesn’t honor his father and mother.
Because someone who has no respect for the safety of others…
Has little respect for his parents.
Does he love them…probably…but does he respect and honor them?
If he doesn’t respect or honor his parents…
He’s not going to give a wit about the law that governs safety on the street where I live.
This is why it’s so important that children be taught to honor their father and mother.
The social and moral decay that is so prevalent in our country is proof that the fifth commandment is obeyed by fewer and fewer people.
Honor Must be Taught
People…children have to be taught to honor their parents…by their parents.
And it’s not an easy lesson to learn.
Because it’s such an important one and those are the hardest to learn.
The Hebrew word translated “honor” is kabed.
As in a weighty or important issue.
The fifth commandment literally gives weight to the issue of children learning to treat their parents honorably…
Because…as I’ve already pointed out…the social fabric holding a culture together depends on it.
Something of this magnitude doesn’t come natural to kids.
Honor must be taught.
Because it’s unnatural for them to give more weight to their parents than themselves.
It’s not in our human nature to think of others…even our parents…as more important than ourselves.
We all want to be the guy in a sports car doing 70 in a 25 mile-per-hour zone.
And left to our own devices…we would be.
We would grow up to be selfish children in expensive cars…doing what we want without regard for anybody else.
A nation of individuals rather than individuals who make up a nation.
Parental honor can only be taught by parents who are honorable.
The Apostle Paul makes this connection in Ephesians 6:1-3…
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.
Did you catch it?
Obey your parents…in the Lord.
Paul conditions obeying the fifth commandment on both the children and their parents being…in the Lord.
This commandment presumes the parents are honorable.
It assumes the parents have a working knowledge of the first four commandments.
The fifth commandment doesn’t stand alone.
It’s built on having no other gods…
Not making idols…
Not taking God’s name in vain and…
Observing the sabbath to keep it holy
Abusive…selfish…authoritarian dads or moms who have nothing in common with Jesus don’t warrant their child’s honor.
Because they lack the capacity to teach their children how to honor them.
And if you don’t honor God…you can’t show your kids how to honor you.
Parents can’t dishonor God…run rough shod over His commandments…
And expect their children to honor them.
I’m plodding through a book by Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
It’s not an easy read, but it is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Chapter five is titled, “Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything that Makes Them Dislike You.”
It’s the mirror image of the fifth commandment.
Parents teach their kids to dishonor them…to dislike them when they don’t say “no” to them.
Listen to what he writes…
“More often than not, modern parents are simply paralyzed by the fear that that they will no longer be liked or even loved by their children if they chastise them for any reason. They want their children’s friendship above all, and are willing to sacrifice respect to get it.”
There’s a reason the nine other commandments contain the words “no” or “not” eleven times.
They’re essential to teaching us to honor God…and one another.
The Promise Must be Kept
Paul’s comment on this commandment is revealing…when he writes…
Which is the first commandment with a promise.
What’s the promise?
That your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you.
He promises them long and fulfilling life in exchange for honoring their parents.
God’s two-fold promise to His people depended on them keeping His commandment.
They must keep His command in order to continue in His promise.
They shouldn’t expect the benefits if they neglected their responsibility to honor their parents.
When things weren’t going well in the land gave them…
It was a sure sign God’s people were failing to keep up their end of the deal.
There’s a direct correlation between dishonor and destruction.
When a nation learns to value dishonor…it is doomed.
My former preaching professor described our culture this way…
“We are living in a time when God is being humanized, genders are being neutralized, marriage is being ostracized and children are being victimized.
The family is being trivialized, fathers are being demonized, mothers are being marginalized, roles are being disenfranchised and God’s order is being vandalized!”
By God’s order…he means the Divine arrangement for human behavior.
We cannot expect things to go well in our land as long as God’s order is being vandalized…
Any more than a family can expect things to go well at home where kids don’t honor their parents.
We must understand that biblical honoring is an action.
One of the main reasons we moved back to Pittsburgh almost 13 years ago was to honor my parents.
Diane’s had passed and we were there.
Since coming back…both my mom and stepmom have passed.
And we were there…
Dad’s 91…and needs our help…we’re here.
I’m not saying that children who don’t live near their parents don’t honor them.
Honoring doesn’t look the same for everyone.
It’s what God led us to do.
Have we honored…or tried to honor our parents that our days may be prolonged and that it may go well with us?
See…it’s OK to hope in the promises of God.
That’s His desire for us.
That we walk in His promises…
Which means we strive to keep up our end of the deal.
So, what if things don’t go well for us on the land which the Lord our God gives us?
That’s a fair question.
We need to remember that is not our home.
He will give us a new and better land.
So, we try honoring our parents now so that it may go well with us on this land and the next.
How do we honor parents who are honorable?
First…we value their world.
Your parent’s world their experiences and the way they perceive the world is likely very different from yours.
My dad got his first pair of good shoes when he joined the Army at 16.
He lied about his age to get in
To this day…his idea of a good pair of shows is the selection at Walmart.
He can afford to buy them anywhere…
But his experience tells him Walmart shoes are all he needs.
Second…make it a point to bring them joy.
For many elderly parents it’s hard just to get out of bed in the morning.
And everything after can be a struggle too.
Bringing them joy may be as simple as a phone call.
Nothing makes Diane’s day like hearing from Evan and the family.
Third…protect your parent’s.
There’s always been an element of society that preys on the young and the old.