May 12, 2024 . . .“Bible promises: Honor your father and mother” Exodus 20:12

May 12, 2024 . . .“Bible promises: Honor your father and mother” Exodus 20:12

May 12, 2024

“Bible promises: Honor your father and mother”

Exodus 20:12

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Forty-seven years ago, back in November of 1978, Paul Harvey gave a speech at a Future Farmers of America Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. He called it So God Made a Farmer.

Later, another author wrote another speech, and called it So God Made a Mother. This is how it goes: “And on the sixth day, God looked down on Adam in His planned paradise and said, ‘I need a nurturer.’ So God made a mother.

“God said, ‘I need someone who feels deeply and loves fiercely, whose tears flow just as abundantly as their laughter, whose heart is as warm as their ability to guide and set limits is strong. I need someone whose influence on those that they nurture is eternal.’ So God made a mother.

“God said, ‘I need someone who can ride the roller-coaster of anxiety, hope, fear, and pride with an outward appearance of calm assurance as she sends her child off to his first day of school. I need someone who will buy the school supplies, drive for the field trips, help study for the history tests, fill out the permission forms, clap from the back row of the spring musical, and help coach a sport she’s never played. I need someone to teach a child to tie her shoes, make new friends, handle disappointments, shop for a prom dress, and drive a stick shift. And when that child is eighteen, I need someone to ride that same roller coaster of anxiety, hope, fear, and pride again as she sends her child away to college with the same calm confident outside exterior.’ So God made a mother.

“God said, “I need someone who is willing to jump in a car and drive children to school, soccer games, and piano lessons on a daily basis. I need someone who can run to the grocery store twice in a day, because someone forgot to add something to the list. I need someone who can take the animals to the vet, drop off the dry cleaning, and pick up prescriptions, and still make sure dinner is on the table for the family to eat.’ So God created a mother.

“Somebody who realizes that children need to be allowed to grow, gain confidence in themselves and be encouraged to be independent individuals and accept the path they choose. Somebody who realizes that their job is one where the better they are, the more surely they won’t be needed in the long run.

“Somebody whose breath will be taken away when they visit their first newborn grandchild in the hospital and their daughter looks at them with loving eyes and says, ‘I hope I can be the kind of mom you are.’ So God made a mother.”

God, in His Word, has quite a lot to say about mothers. Isaiah chapter 66 says, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13). Psalm 139 says, “For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13). The book of Proverbs says, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction; don’t neglect your mother’s teaching; for they are a graceful wreath on your head, and beads for your neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9). And it says, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all’” (Proverbs 31:28-29).

And in the book of Exodus chapter 20, there’s even more. I’ll start at verse 1: “And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain...Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:1-4, 7-8, 12).

It’s been said that the Ten Commandments are elegant and shapely in their leanness. They’re the “Usain Bolt” of religious advice--0% body fat. Every word packs a punch. They’re an ancient, enduring, comprehensive ethical code for flourishing human life in exactly 179 words.

The fourth president of our United States, James Madison, said, “We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.”

And author and speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “If God would have wanted us to live in a permissive society, He would have given us Ten Suggestions and not Ten Commandments.”

It’s been said that this commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” is a hinge commandment. While the first three commandments deal with our relationship with God, the final seven deal with our relationships with others. And if we are truly to love our neighbor, we have to start at home. As one commentator wrote, “The relationship between parent and child is the first and primary relationship, the beginning of all human society.”

Luther wrote in the words of his Small Catechism, “Honor your father and your mother. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.”

And he wrote in the words of his Large Catechism, “To this estate of fatherhood and motherhood God has given the special distinction above all estates that are beneath it that He not simply commands us to love our parents, but to honor them…that both in heart and with the body we so act as to show that we esteem them very highly, and that, next to God, we regard them as the very highest.” And he wrote, “Learn, therefore, first, what is the honor towards parents required by this commandment, that they be held in distinction and esteem above all things, as the most precious treasure on earth.”

Now it’s easy to say that no matter where in the world you live, whatever culture or place or time, it’s universally understood that children should honor and respect their parents. For centuries, it’s been built into the very fabric of life--ancient Greece, the Orient, Africa, South America--wherever you go, children are expected to honor their parents.

Japan holds a national holiday every year on the third Monday of September to honor and show appreciation for their elderly. “Respect for the Aged Day” is a paid holiday, where grandparents receive gifts and share a meal with their families. Native American families value the wisdom of their elders. Generations of Mediterranean and Latin families live under the same roof.

In the words of the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus, “Reverence for parents stands written among the three laws of the most revered righteousness.”

And that’s just the way it should be! After all, parents gave life to the child, so the child owes everything he has to his or her parents.

But here in America, it’s often not that way. Instead, there’s an increasing loss of authority for the parents, as well as an increasing amount of disrespect.

So what happened? Once upon a time, we had a patriarchal society, where the father was the head of the home and the mother was the key player in the home.

But today, no one’s home! The father’s gone and so is the mother, so there’s no adult in the home. And instead of being raised under regular, routine, constant, parental care and authority, it’s pretty much anything goes!

A few years ago, while author and speaker Del Tackett was visiting a large Christian school, he had the opportunity to meet with the elementary school faculty. When he asked what was the number one issue they had to deal with, they answered--gender identity. “What is a male? What is a female? And what right does anyone have to tell me who or what I am?”

Is it any surprise? It shouldn’t be. After all, the apostle Paul once wrote to a pastor named Timothy: “But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents…” (II Timothy 3:1-2).

As another author wrote, “Civilizations rise and fall with the family. And faith in God rises and falls with the family. Therefore, the family is under constant spiritual attack.” And another wrote, “If you pierce the family, you pierce its society.”

And that’s why God gave us the fourth commandment.

But sometimes, this commandment isn’t so easy to obey. What if, for example, you come from a broken home or your parents abused you or you’re adopted or your parents don’t get along or you don’t even know who your parents are?

But notice--the commandment doesn’t say, “Honor your parents if they’re honorable,” nor does it say, “Honor your parents if they deserve it,” nor does it say, “Honor your parents only if they treated you well.” Instead it says, “Honor your father and your mother.” Period.

And if that’s not enough for you, Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs, “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22). Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). And he wrote to Timothy: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Timothy 5:8).

So why should we honor our father and our mother? Because the home is the foundation of society. It’s our first hospital, our first school, our first government, and our first church. It’s where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living. It’s where our character is sculpted under the watchful eye of a mom and a dad. It’s a “laboratory for living.”

Whether we knew it or not, and whether we appreciated it or not, your parents bought and washed your clothes, put a roof over your head, and cooked three nutritious meals every day. They provided you transportation, and counseled you when you had a problem. They gave you a good education, and they took you to church and told you about God’s great love in sending Jesus.

Because of your parents and others just like them, we no longer have to fear diphtheria, smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, or polio. Because they knew what it was like to be poor and hungry and cold, they were determined that it would never happen to us. We had food to eat, milk to drink, vitamins to nourish our bodies, warm homes, better schools, and a great opportunity to succeed. They fought some of the ugliest wars in history. And because they gave us their best, we are the healthiest and brightest generation to ever inhabit planet earth.

“Honor your father and your mother,” God said.

And do you know who the best example of honoring our father and mother is? Jesus is! Remember in Luke chapter 2, when He was only twelve years old, somehow He got left behind in Jerusalem, separated from His mom and dad. And when they went all the way back and even went searching for Him for a full three days, they found Him in the temple, talking with the teachers of the Law.

And though He told them He had to be about His Father’s business, the Bible says, “Then He went down to Nazareth with them and was subject, He was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51).

One more thing. When Paul talked about this commandment in Ephesians chapter 6, he said, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and your mother” (Ephesians 6:1-2). Then he said, “This is the first commandment with a promise” (Ephesians 6:2).

So what’s the promise? “That it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land” (Ephesians 6:3).

And that’s the hope and the promise in which we share even today--made in love and given in grace, that we might be His own.

We thank You, Father, for the gift of a mom and a dad. Help us to honor them, and to hold them in love and esteem, for Jesus’ sake. Amen