Honor Your Father and Mother

Exodus 20:12

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

Honor for mothers and fathers is missing a lot in our era.  Multiple causes can be pointed to, each of which has some truth behind it.  This command is most often directed at children but it has implications for adults as well.

For starters, are you as a parent worthy of honoring?  The term Heavenly Father is a hard term for some people to accept because they had or have lousy earthly fathers.  Some parents are abusive or just plain absent.  It’s hard to expect children to honor these types of parents.

As a parent it is also important to realize that there is a responsibility attached to parenting.  The moment your first child is conceived, life as you know it changes.  A baby is totally dependent on its parents and can’t do anything for itself.  This is exhausting work and shouldn’t be rushed into without much consideration.

Of course we’re still someone’s child as adults as well.  If your parents are still living you are still expected to honor them.  This doesn’t mean that they get to control your life or tell you how to run your house.  When a person leaves the house, especially at marriage, they need to become more independent.  But parents must still be honored even in later years.

Remember the Sabbath

Exodus 4:8-11

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.  For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

The Sabbath is a sticky issue.  We live in a 24/7 world today.  More so, an entire denomination holds to celebrating the Christian Sabbath on Saturday, the seventh day, instead of on Sunday when most Christians do in celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.

Some teach that Jesus did away with the Sabbath but this simply isn’t true.  The Pharisees and Jewish leaders had made the Sabbath into a bunch of rules and regulations about what could and couldn’t happen.  For instance a Jew could only walk so many steps on the Sabbath.  It was more work making sure that a person did not work on the Sabbath!  Following every rule about the Sabbath was exhausting and ruined the concept of rest that God had in mind.

Jesus didn’t eliminate the Sabbath but pointed out that the spirit of the law had to be considered.  It is acceptable to do good on the Sabbath as Jesus did when he healed.  There are emergencies that need to be taken care of and can’t wait for the next day.

On the other hand, doing good and handling emergencies is not the same as working and poor planning.  Some jobs are necessary on Sundays.  Hospital workers and emergency services are important things to have.  Livestock needs to be fed and cows must be milked.  But other jobs simply aren’t required.  While I wouldn’t advise anyone to quit their job over Sunday work, I do advise to consider whether Sundays are expected when searching for a job.  I believe that God will bless anyone who makes a decision not to work on Sundays.

Don’t Misuse God’s Name

Exodus 4:7

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

It strikes me as odd how certain four letter words are acceptable on TV and others are not.  I don’t know how certain words became more vulgar than others.  Particularly frustrating and confusing is when God’s name is taken in vain as we see it today; God is bleeped out while leaving the rest of the offensive saying intact as if God were the bad part.

This commandment is a bit strange and vague.  Today we think of it as not saying a certain phrase.  The Israelites took this commandment so seriously that they never uttered God’s name in case they might say it incorrectly.  This likely isn’t the intention of the command.

To misuse God’s name is to attach the authority of God to something that God did not intend.  To say that God will judge sin and to say that God considers certain things to be sin is acceptable.  But to say that God hates divorced people is overstepping what the Bible says and attaching God’s name to something that He didn’t say.  We can talk about sin, we can talk about what happens to unrepentant sinners, but to speak for God when God didn’t give instruction is wrong.

Popular preachers have done this in regard to disasters as well and I believe that this is wrong.  We know that God dislikes sin but to say that a disaster is God’s punishment for sin is speaking for God.  Unless God specifically instructed someone to declare that a disaster is a judgment for a particular sin, we shouldn’t put words in God’s mouth.  Sin will be judged, we don’t have to worry about that.  But without knowing for certain what God did or didn’t do and why He did so, we should keep quiet and keep God’s name out of our opinions.

No Idols

Exodus 20:4-6

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

The first commandment dealt with having no other gods before the Lord.  The second commandment deals directly with idols.  If you search for the word worship in the Bible, you’ll find that it is more often in connection with idol worship than worship of God.

We don’t often think of God as being jealous because it has a negative connotation. We are created in the image of God and our emotions are modeled after God’s.  The difference is that we use our emotions in sinful ways.  God gets angry just as we do.  But there is a righteous anger -anger over things that anger God, and selfish anger – anger because we were offended or hurt.

God gets jealous when we give attention that belongs to Him to other things instead.  It is not petty jealousy that is over someone having something better than you.

God’s promises of punishment and blessing are not meaningless.  Our righteousness or wickedness is often passed on to the following generation.  Righteous parents often have righteous children while wicked parents have wicked children.  This isn’t a guarantee but it is often the way that things happen.

Those who show God respect and honor will be blessed and they are likely to raise children who honor the Lord.  Those who reject God will usually have children who reject God as well and they will reap the consequences of their decision.

No Other Gods

Exodus 20:3

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

The very first command that God gave the Israelites was to have no other gods before Him.  It sounds simple enough but Moses didn’t make it down from Mount Sinai before the Israelites were bowing down to the golden calf.

It seems like it would be easy to follow this command over the others.  After all, when is the last time that you had a temptation to construct an idol and bow down to it?

The Israelites had great problems with idolatry.  God had instructed them to remove all the foreigners and their foreign gods from the land but instead they made compromises and signed peace treaties.  Peace is usually desirable but not when it goes against the direct instruction of God.

The Israelites didn’t allow foreigners and their gods to remain around with the expectation that it would cause problems later on.  But this is how most sin creeps in.  We make compromises on things from which we assume nothing bad can happen.  In the Israelites’ case it led to the nation being flooded with idols and the people intermarrying with foreigners and bowing to foreign idols.

Of course an idol can be anything that we place ahead of God, not just a statue.  The devotions on worship cover this topic in more depth.  We must be careful about compromises because they often have unintended consequences.