The Fifth Commandment

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The Fifth Commandment:  Honoring Father and Mother

Pastor Oesterwind

December 14, 2008

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Exodus 20:12

Introduction:   How much do fathers and mothers desire honor, respect, and obedience?  A high school football coach used biblical principles to motivate and inspire his team to play winning football while showing honor, respect, and obedience toward God and authority. 

Coach Taylor prayerfully approached his job and one day had the opportunity of leading a student on his team to Christ.  Matt’s reaction to receiving Christ greatly encouraged his coach.  The first thing he wanted to do was talk to his dad.  So, Coach Taylor agreed to take him right away.

Matt’s father worked downtown.  He asked the secretary if he could see his dad, and she buzzed the man on the intercom.  He was actually meeting with a business associate.  Matt’s dad seemed bothered by the interruption, and when the secretary told him it was his son, the associate with him asked if he should step out.

The father waved off his associate and asked him to stay.  He also asked his secretary to send in his son.  Matt walked into the office beaming.  He apologized for interrupting, and his dad quickly asked him why he was there. 

A surge of emotion and grief over sin carried Matt into a confession that absolutely stunned his father.  He asked his dad to forgive him for the way he had been acting.  He told his dad that God saved him.  The last thing he said was that from that point on, he would show honor and respect toward his father by obeying him.  Whatever dad said, Matt would do. 

Matt walked out of the office.  His speechless father finally stood up from his chair and looked out his office window.  He saw son getting in the car with Coach Taylor. 

What happens next demonstrates how desperately fathers and mothers desire respect, honor, and obedience.  The business associate looks at Matt’s father and says, “For what it’s worth, I’d give my right arm to hear my son say that to me.”

Facing the Giants (Destination Films, 2006)

Transition:  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).  The fifth commandment finds continuity and completion in similar mandates revealed in the NT.  All of us must honor, respect, and obey our parents at all times and in all things!  Tonight, we will trace the development of this command throughout Scripture, see how seriously God takes the command today, and bring out the biblical responsibilities that both parents and children have today. So, first…

   I.    Since God considers this a weighty matter, we must not take it       lightly. [How is the 5th commandment fit together with the other       9; how is it developed in the OT; how is it reiterated in the NT]

How does God want us to consider the fifth commandment fit into the arrangement of ten?

·       The first four commandments guided Israel in their relationship with the LORD; the last six commandments guided Israel in their relationship with one another - particularly the family.

·       Making a carved image to carry out idolatry, taking God’s name in vain, and failing to remember and keep the Sabbath day holy are all extensions of the first commandment (‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’). 

·       These first four commandments provide a basis for the next six.  You cannot build a house unless you establish the foundation.  Israel had to learn that establishing the foundation meant that they keep their relationship with the LORD sound. 

·       Just as commands two - four build upon the first commandment, even so commands six - ten will build upon the fifth

·       Israel honored God because God gave them life; they were to honor their parents because God used the parents as instruments in giving them life.  The family is critical in each economy of God.  Honor is given to parents because they are representatives of God’s authority. 

o   Honor in the sense of showing respect 

o   The fact that honor is extended to both father and mother should not be lost on us.  Remember that the world of the OT was predominantly male.  Yet the mother is afforded the same honor and respect as the father in such a society.


How does the fifth commandment develop throughout the OT?

Leviticus 19:3 states, “Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.” 

·       The reverence of parents is in fact a healthy fear of dishonoring or disobeying them

o   On one hand we are commanded to love our neighbor; on the other hand, we must honor and fear our parents. 

o   Our hearts must be right toward them. 

o   Our speech regarding them must be right.  Thought, word, or deed - God sees it all. 

When the families of our country are strengthened with this kind of interaction, then the promises of God’s blessing are realized.  The breakdown of this interaction in our families will yield a very bitter fruit for our country.  That fruit is being realized today.

One of my friends on the shelf [Philip Graham Ryken] believes that the most significant attack upon the American family came in the 1960s.  I think a lot of us would agree with that.  He quotes Annie Gottlieb who concurs.  She writes of the 60s…

We might not have been able to tear down the state, but the family was closer.  We could get our hands on it.  And …we believed that the family was the foundation of the state, as well as the collective state of mind …We truly believed that the family had to be torn apart to free love, which alone could heal the damage done when the atom was split to release energy.  And the first step [was] to tear ourselves free from our parents. (601)

The destruction of America begins with the destruction of the family.  The destruction of the family is expedited when children dishonor and disobey their parents.

As long as parents were alive, children were to honor and obey them.  A failure to honor parents was met with severe penalty in the OT:

·       Striking or cursing father or mother led to a death sentence (Ex 21.15, 17). 

·       It was commanded to stand before the elderly and honor their presence (Lev 19.32).

·       It seems clear that even in a strict time of enforcement such as the OT, a progression led to severe action (cf. Deut 21.18-21):

o   Stubborn and rebellious children who failed to obey their parents were chastened. 

o   When the children would not cooperate, they were taken to the elders of the city.

o   Once the parents reported the stubborn rebellion of their child, then the men of the city gathered and stoned the child to death.

o   Evil was put away from the whole society.  Israel would hear and fear - especially children tempted toward stubbornness or rebellion.

Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.  And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’” (Deut 27.16).

A positive example of honoring parents is found in the life of Solomon:

·       When the mother of King Solomon approached him, he stood to meet her.  He also bowed before her.  While he sat upon his own throne, he had a throne set for his mother.  She sat at the right hand of her son (1 Ki 2.19).

The Proverbs have much to say along this line:

o   Proverbs 1:8-9 “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they (parental instruction obeyed) will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.”

o   Proverbs 6:20, 24 “My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother …To keep you from the evil woman, from the flattering tongue of a seductress.”

o   Proverbs 15:5 “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent (careful; changes attitude and actions when necessary).”

o   Proverbs 19:26 “He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother is a son who causes shame and brings reproach.”  No gratitude; drives parents away - no honor.

o   Proverbs 20:20 “Whoever curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in deep darkness.”  Many generally agree that death sentences for rebellious children were not carried out in Israel’s history during Solomon and the later kingdom periods.  Here, God will take it upon Himself to put out the lamp of the dishonorable child. 

o   Proverbs 23:22-25 “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice.”  Here, the desire of parents to have honorable children is good.  The child ought to fulfill it.

o   Proverbs 28:24 “Whoever robs his father or his mother, and says, ‘It is no transgression,’ the same is companion to a destroyer.”

§  How does this child justify stealing from his father and mother? 

§  Maybe he thinks he can take what will one day be his anyway.  The end justifies the means for this child. 

§  He is a companion to a destroyer - one who brings miser and ruin to others through evil actions.

o   Proverbs 30:11 “There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother.”  The generation spoken of here is one characterized by not showing respect and honor for parents. 

o   Proverbs 30:17 “The eye that mocks his father, and scorns obedience to his mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.”

§  This child refuses to obey the directions of the parents.

§  You can read it in his or her eye.  It is scornful.

§  God will pluck that eye out; practically, God will deal with rebellion by giving out the appropriate judgment.

How is the fifth commandment reiterated in the NT?

·       Jesus honored His mother even when dying upon the cross (John 19.26).

·       One of the characteristics of those given over to their sin is their disobedience toward parents (Romans 1.30).

·       Paul commands that Timothy not rebuke an older man (Timothy may have been in his 40s when this occurred; cf. 1 Timothy 5.1).  Timothy should exhort the older man as he would a father.  He was also to exhort older women as he would a mother (5.2).

·       One of the characteristics of families in the last days is that they will be disobedient toward their parents (2 Tim 3.2). 

·       Leaders in local NT churches should have faithful children who are not accused of wicked lifestyles and insubordination (Titus 1.6).

Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

·       Note that Paul mentions to the believers in Ephesus that children must obey and honor.  The promise accompanying this is similar to the fifth command; however, note the change from land to earth which encompasses all believers at all times.

Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.”

·       The element Paul adds in Colossians is the idea of obedience in all things.

All mankind must honor and obey parents at all times and in all things.  Why?

1.    That it may be well with the children who choose to do so.

2.    That the children who do so may live long on the earth.

3.    That the children who do so will be well pleasing to the Lord.

  II.    Since God places this burden upon all of us, we must fulfill the           responsibilities He has given us.

          A.      Responsibilities of Parents

    1.            Parents should properly discipline their children.  They shouldn’t be overbearing or overly permissive.  They should strike a balance that may only be achieved by the grace of God.

    2.            Parents should place reasonable demands upon children.  We must be careful that we don’t expect too much or too little from them.

    3.            When we must correct our children, our love for them ought to be a powerful motivation.  They ought to know that we love them.

    4.            Parents should pray for their children daily. 

    5.            Parents should encourage their children.

    6.            Parents should provide wise counsel for their children.

    7.            Parents should provide for a child’s daily needs. 

    8.            Parents should exemplify godliness for their children.  Ryken states, “Although children don’t always listen to their parents, they never fail to imitate them.” 

    9.            Parents should teach their children the Scriptures.

10.            Parents should lead their children in worshiping God.

          B.      Responsibilities of Children

    1.            Younger children - respectful speech toward parents, good manners; quick obedience with a good attitude.

    2.            Teenagers - Rebellion is a problem for many teenagers.  “The cover of one magazine for teenaged girls asked, ‘Do you really hate your parents?  Like, who doesn’t?’  The magazine proceeded to offer advice on ‘how to deal with your detestable [referring to parents].”

a.     You may think that your parents don’t deserve your honor or obedience.  But the way you think and the way God thinks are not in line.

b.    Always speak well of your parents in the presence of your friends.  To not do so is sin.

c.     Listen to what your parents say.  If they warn you about spending time with a certain person, heed the warning.  If they forbid you to see the wrong kind of friends, listen and obey.  If they forbid certain behaviors because they are physically or spiritually destructive, then obey. 

d.    Talk to your parents using language they understand.  Grunting is not honorable communication.  Giving parents the silent treatment, is hard-hearted rebellion.

    3.            Early 20s - I rebelled here.  Before you make major decisions that choose the course of your life, seek counsel from your parents.

Someone will say, “What if your parents aren’t Christians and try to stop you from doing what God wants you to do?”

·       “Christians can never let honoring their parents get in the way of following Christ.”  Matthew 10:37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

·       We are to obey our parents in the Lord (Eph 6.1; Col 3.20).

·       “The honor we owe our parents can never come at the expense of the honor we owe to God.” (611)

·       We should still listen to our parents.

·       We should also seek counsel from the church.

What about someone like me - on my own with my own family?  What is my responsibility to my parents?

·       Adult children should make their parents a priority - especially when their grandchildren are involved.  I think it’s very important for children to have the influence of godly grandparents.

·       When unbelieving grandparents won’t fulfill this role, adopt some from the local church.

·       Adult children should care for their parents to the very end.  Other cultures seem to still understand this.  Americans struggle with this.  They either abandon their parents, or worse, they seek out ways to help them die sooner.


1.    Do you ever talk back to your parents?

2.    Do you ever hide anything from them?

3.    Do you ever silently curse them?

4.    Do you speak well of your parents?

5.    Are you taking the time to strengthen your relationship with them?

6.    Are you giving them the care they need and the honor they deserve for their position in life?

No doubt, to some measure, we all feel like failures today.  But there is no perfect child except the One born in a manger.  He was born to die for our failures and imperfections.  Kids, you may think you’re pretty good boys and girls.  The truth is that you’re not good.  Actually, you’re all pretty bad.  God wants you to honor and obey your parents all the time, but sometimes you don’t.  How can God accept you if you keep disobeying your parents? 

The only answer is found in Jesus.

54 - For the Beauty of the Earth

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