Bible reading: Exodus 20:12
05/08 – A matter of honor.
We have seen that God made a declaration of love in 10 marriage vows (promises). Exodus 20 is a wedding certificate where these promises are registered. He pronounced them publicly getting engaged with Israel, taking them as His bride.
In the first promise, to say, the first vow, God promised to be your Husband, to take care of you, so you will never need to seek for another one who will care about you.
In the second vow, God promised to stay at your side constantly. He promised to be with you at all times, to the point that you will never need a picture of Him, because the real God will be at your side. He also promised to take care of you and your family, as the doctor visits the home of the ill to heal them.
In third place, God has promised to listen to you at all times, every time you call Him, every time you use His name. He is willing to help you and waits for your call of help to react immediately.
God has also promised to set aside a time each week to be with family. A special time every Saturday, to enjoy with you all that He has created, together with your family. He even invites the visitors you have at home to this feast. God wants to have a party every week. He only asks you to remember that weekly appointment.
Let’s go today with the fifth promise, which closes the promises that refer to God.
Fifth promise: A matter of Honor (The “prologue”)
The first four promises are dedicated to the relationship between God and man (vertical sense). The six promises that remain to be studied, are dedicated to our relationships with others. God promises to take care of your relationships with others, obviously if you let Him help you.
What’s more, the order in which the six remaining promises are placed, is not coincidental, there’s a reason why, a logical and very nice explanation. From the most visible or “serious” one, such as “kill”, ending with the most intimate, what no one sees, only God can see, what you think, what you “covet”. But we will see this in more detail later, when we will have reviewed all the promises.
The fifth promise is that which we have always been told is “the only commandment with promise”. But after reading, studying and really understanding what God was willing to express in these very meaningful promises, I can only say that it is a “double promise”, although you have already seen that each of the promises that we saw, have implicit many more promises within them.
Exodus 20:12 “(You shall) honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (NVI).
In other words, understanding it as a promise, today God would express it: “I promise you that if you accept all the previous promises, you make me the first thing in your life, you accept my company, you talk to me, you dedicate a special day to spend it as a family, I promise you that you will be an honorable son and I will help you to fulfill it”. (You shall) honor your father and your mother. Then we will see the second part, which is very interesting.
In Ezekiel 18:20 we read: “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them”.
We know that our moral behavior affects our personal salvation. In the second promise we saw that God cannot “punish” a son for what the father did, but he visits him so that he does not repeat his mistakes and heal him “spiritually””.
We see that God tries to interrupt the spread of sin in a descending manner, to prevent it from getting worse and affecting more people. However, in the opposite direction, in an upward direction, the issue is more difficult. If I do wrong, God will try to make this affect the future generations as little as possible, But if I misbehave, the dishonor caused to my parents is harder to remedy. However, God promises to help you, at least from now on, to be a person who honors his father and mother.
In Deuteronomy 27:16 we read: “Cursed is anyone who dishonors their father or mother” (NIV). In other versions of the Bible, the word in this text says “despise” instead of “dishonor”.
We understand that parents are looking for the best education for their children, and a bad behavior in children, whatever the nature, is a public contempt for their advice, all the effort and dedication that parents have made for their children. In other words, your parents (in general) have made their best efforts to give you the best education. To disrespect or act wrongly causes other people to question the education your parents have given you. By misbehaving, you are “dishonoring” your parents.
This commandment goes far beyond of just caring for parents when they are elderly. It goes much beyond than just talking to them with love, loving them, etc. This promise tells us that any failure or moral error on our part is a disgrace to our parents.
One of the many texts in the Bible who says this is: Leviticus 21:9 “If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father”. But let’s be positive.
Proverbs 17:6 repeats the idea in a positive way: “Children’s children are a crown to the aged,”.
God promises us that from now on, by accepting Him as Husband, he will be the “Head of the family”, and with him at our side, we will be able to honor our earthly parents. God promises to help us honor, that is, to behave properly. It also adds something interesting when this happens. He has an “extra prize” for those who accept this deal, this promise and decide to honor others, and therefore, to honor God, our Father.
We find it in 1 Samuel 2:30: “Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” In Psalm 15:4 the same idea is repeated: “but (God) honors those who fear the Lord”.
Honor is linked with the humble spirit, Proverbs 29:23 tells so “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor”. In other words, this promise of God implies that the Lord promises us to give a humble spirit.
This commandment has one more face of the coin, involves parents actively. God is interested in helping us to honor (hence the double promise of this commandment) Isaiah 48:11 shows it: “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another”. God commits to help us honor him, by his name, to defend his dignity.
Let us not forget that in the famous investigative judgment, beyond the eternal destiny of each of us, the great questioned One is the very God, accused by Satan of being unjust. That’s why God gives you so many promises. Not to force you, not to punish you in the first failure you make, but to seek to help you because of His love for you, and also, to demonstrate the true character of love.
This is a wonderful promise. God promises to help you to behave decently, morally, in such a way that you will honor your ancestors, and, this behavior will have an extra reward, God will prolong our life in this world to be an example of behavior to others. We can read so in Isaiah 55:5 “Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified [honored] thee”. God is interested in keeping alive in this world as long as possible a person who accepts that promise, and can be a living example and testimony for those around him.
In the Bible, the Church is called “the bride of Jesus”. Therefore, this text applies to us, Proverbs 11:16: “A gracious woman retains honor”. We are graceful. We have the Grace of Christ, and only for the fact that God makes you the object of his Grace, of his forgiveness and gives you a second chance, he honors you more than any other created being in the Universe. Do you realize how important you are to God? Do you realize how many reasons you have to feel happy and proud of being a son / daughter of God?
There is much more to be said about honoring parents, like in Colossians 3:20–21 “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged”.
In the context of the Fifth Promise, this text takes on new life and new meaning. It becomes a prayer that Paul does on behalf of God. Young people, it is true that you have to obey, but God will help you do it. Moreover, parents, you have the commitment of God to help you so your children will not become discouraged when they fail. We have to encourage them and help young people, especially when they make mistakes. (Other texts of interest, Mat. 15:1-9; Mk. 7:9-13).
Why is this the first promise of the 6 dedicated to relationships between people (horizontal)? It is not by chance, and that is why it is also a special promise with double reward.
As you may see, the rest of “commandments” or promises are very concrete actions (steal, kill, lie, etc.) although with very broad implications. However, “Honoring” is something very general, very comprehensive.
The question now would be, how may I honor a father and a mother? God has promised to help you do it, but, how in particular?
Malachi 1:6 gives us a hint: “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence?”
In other words, God is indicating to us that the only way to honor father and mother is by honoring Him. But it does not stop here. God uses this promise as a prologue to the rest of the promises that remain to be seen. It is an explanatory introduction, of everything He wants to do for you in this world.
Then, God will go into detail, and will begin to explain point by point how He will help you to honor Him, and therefore, to your parents. He will explain and promise the help you will need, point by point, on how He is going to lend a hand so you might become an example for others here in this world, and God will do everything possible to prolong your life on this earth as an example and testimony for those who still do not believe in Him.
Tomorrow we will see more promises that will allow you to see how God is willing to help you every day, even for His own interest.
Do not forget, the most important Living One of the whole Universe is willing to live by your side every day, to listen to you every time you speak to him, to be your Husband, to spend time with you and to help you in all the affairs, issues and worries that you have.
It does not matter what mistakes you have made so far. Even if you have failed, God promised to be constantly ready to respond every time we invoke his name and forgive our faults.
Even more, with today’s promise, God reveals that He is the first interested in helping you to honor Him and your parents, because this also demonstrates his own love and kindness to the entire universe. There is nothing else in the universe that God wants as to help you be a true son of your parents, and a true son of God.
Do you want to accept this promise that God makes you on this day? I invite you to pray to God, ask Him to fulfill His promise in you. Ask Him for help to accept His promise.
Pray with the assurance that he is listening. Thank Him for be willing to help you to be a good son, an exemplary person. And do not forget that even if you do not feel worthy, the first person interested in helping you is God himself. I invite you to pray.