THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT
Honour thy father and thy mother.
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Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which YHWH1 thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12) 2
The Fifth Commandment is cited twice in the Old Testament and six times in the New Testament: Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Matthew 15:4, 19:19, Mark 7:10, 10:19, Luke 18:20 and Ephesians 6:2.
First on the Second Tablet
Honour thy father and thy mother, as YHWH thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which YHWH thy God giveth thee. (Deuteronomy 5:16)
The two stone tablets given to Moses on Mount Sinai are usually depicted as containing five commandments on each tablet. However, it is more likely that the Fifth Commandment, not the Sixth, headlined the second tablet. This arrangement was substantiated by Yeshua3:
…[a Pharisee] asked him a question, tempting him … saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love YHWH thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:35-40)
The first four commandments, which address man's relationship with Yahweh, hang upon "Thou shalt love YHWH thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." The last six commandments, which address man's relationship with man, hang upon "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Thus, the division for the two tablets was four and six rather than five and five.
Yeshua provided a second witness to this grouping by directly associating the Fifth Commandment with the second greatest commandment:
…Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, honour thy father and thy mother: and, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 19:18-19)
Fifth Commandment Significance
Where It All Begins
The Fifth Commandment, "honour thy father and thy mother," is clearly linked with the second greatest commandment. It might seem odd that Yahweh would begin the second tablet with honoring one's parents rather than with what might seem to man like more consequential commandments that address murder, adultery, larceny, perjury and covetousness. Thus, someone might think that one of the last five commandments might have been a better place to begin the second tablet. However, this is not true because we are talking about where it all begins!
All sin is the consequence of rebellion against godly authority, especially of one's parents. The other crimes covered by the last five commandments are the consequence of first dishonoring Yahweh and then one's parents and/or those whom one's parents have placed a son or daughter under. All sin dishonors one's parents and family. It is possible that the families of such degenerates as Ted Bundy4 and Jeffrey Dahmer5 had to change their names in order to escape their shame. It is not all that much different for the family of someone who is convicted of theft or drug abuse, or who, as the result of an immoral life style, bears a child out of wedlock.
Everything a child does in public is a reflection upon his parents. For example, when a young person wears baggy pants and has an earring dangling from his earlobe or from some other part of his anatomy, a person should wonder what kind of parent would permit his child to dress in such a fashion. Parents should keep in mind that "…foolishness is bound [up] in the heart of a child…." (Proverbs 22:15). For this reason alone parents should decide what their child will or will not wear, including the style and length of their child's hair.
Because Paul used the word "children" when reiterating the Fifth Commandment, this commandment is often interpreted as exclusively pertaining to young children while living in their parents' home. However, in the Old Testament, this command is never applied solely to children, except in Leviticus 19 where it addresses "all the congregation of the children of Israel," a phrase that implies both children and adults alike. Because a child moves out of his parent's home or even begins his own family does not mean that he is no longer required to honor his parents. In order to honor his parents, a person must not only guard what he says and does while young and living at home, but also in how he conducts himself in society after he has grown and moved out of his parent's home. If a person desires to honor his parents, then this will dictate that he conducts his life in a moral and ethical fashion. King Solomon admonished his son(s) to do the same:
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.… Keep thy heart with all diligence…. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet…. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:20-27)
The entire collection of Solomon's proverbs is essentially instructions on Fifth Commandment compliance. Solomon employed the words "my son" twenty-three times in thirty-one chapters. Proverbs 1:8, 3:1, 4:10, 20-27, 5:1, 6:20 and 7:1-3 pertain to more general advice from Solomon. The remaining "my son" admonitions concern areas of life that Solomon felt warranted more explicit instructions:
Warnings against associating with drunkards, gluttons, malcontents and prostitutes - Proverbs 1:10-15, 5:20, 23:19-20, 23:26-28.
Longevity, Prosperity and Estate Perpetuity
Pursuit of wisdom and discretion - Proverbs 2:1-2, 3:21-22, 23:15, 24:13-14, 27:11.
Forsaking not Yahweh's discipline - Proverbs 3:11.
Surety prohibitions - Proverbs 6:1-5.
Cautions against bad counselors - Proverbs 19:27.
Alcohol abstinence - Proverbs 23:26-32, 31:2-5.
The fear of Yahweh and Godly authority - Proverbs 24:21.
The Apostle Paul pointed out that the Fifth Commandment is the first commandment with a promise:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. (Ephesians 6:1-3)
The Fifth Commandment promises that if a person honors his parents, his "days [will] be long upon the land which Yahweh thy God giveth [him]." If we desire to live long, to prosper and to retain control of our property, then it is imperative for us to give to our parents the honor that is due them. Yahweh views the Fifth Commandment as being so consequential that He elevated it to the same stature as the entire Mosaic Covenant, at least as it pertains to the promised blessings for keeping it.
Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that YHWH he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else. Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which YHWH thy God giveth thee, for ever. (Deuteronomy 4:39-40)
The Link Between the Two Tablets
The Fifth Commandment is not only the foundation for human relations, it is also the link between the commandments contained on the second and the first tablets, especially for a young child. In The Institutes of Biblical Law, R. J. Rushdoony, quoting Roderick Meredith, noted that parents "stand in the place of God" to a young child:
The family is not only the first environment of the child, it is also his first school, where he receives his basic education; his first church, where he is taught his first and foundational lessons concerning God and life; his first state, where he learns the elements of law and order and obeys them; and his first vocation, where the child is given work to do, and responsibilities in terms of it. The essential world for a small child is the family; his father and mother in particular. [Roderick] Meredith [in The Ten Commandments] has summarized the matter aptly: "In the eyes of a small child, a parent stands in the place of God Himself! For the parent is the child's provider, protector, lover, teacher, and lawgiver." 6
A son or daughter who has not been instructed, as a child, in the art of honoring his or her parents is unlikely to respect Yahweh as an adult. This concept has also been rendered, "A child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in His father." The author of the book of Hebrews touches upon this same principle:
…we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits…? (Hebrews 12:9)
The second tablet began with the Fifth Commandment because it is where man's relationship with man begins, and without a proper foundation in this commandment, a person will be more apt to struggle with the remaining five commandments.
The significance of the Fifth Commandment is also evident in that the judgment for certain statute violations are much more severe when committed against parents than when someone else has been violated in the same way. For example, only when parents are despised is the perpetrator cursed. Only when parents are reviled or struck is the perpetrator to be put to death. This standard alone demonstrates how important the Fifth Commandment is to its Author and how important it should be to His people.
Fifth Commandment Statutes
The Fifth Commandment, by itself, leaves some of the particulars in question, thus the importance of the statutes of this commandment. The statutes elucidate and elaborate upon each of the commandments. A commandment without its statutes can be compared to fishing without bait, sailing without a sail or driving an automobile without gas. It is the statutes that break down each commandment into manageable portions and more operative specifics.
YHWH spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I YHWH your God am holy. Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father … I am YHWH your God. (Leviticus 19:1-3)
In Romans 13:7 the Apostle Paul admonishes us to not only render honor to whom honor is due, but also to render fear to whom fear is due. The fear of Yahweh is a statute under the First Commandment just as the fear of one's parents is a statute under the Fifth Commandment. King Solomon declared that the fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, and thus it is safe to conclude that this is where putting Yahweh above all else begins. In like manner, fear is also where a child's obedience to the Fifth Commandment begins.
Someone is likely to respond, "When my baby was born he didn't fear me!" This is true. An infant, when first born, does not fear his parents. Nevertheless, when he arrives at an age when he can or should begin honoring his parents, it must begin with fear.
Honor Must be Taught
A barber was once asked, "When would be the best time to bring a two-year old in for a haircut?" Without hesitation the barber answered, "When he's four." Obviously, the two-year olds that this barber had previously seen had not been properly disciplined in the art of honoring their parents and other adults.
Honor is not something that occurs naturally, it must be taught. The first time a child wants to do something his own way in defiance of his parents' wishes, that is precisely what he is going to do, regardless of how much the parents have loved and pampered the child previously. He will naturally honor himself and his own wishes rather than honoring his parents and their desires unless the fear factor is brought into play.
Time-outs and standing junior in the corner may sometimes achieve the correct outward reaction, but seldom do they produce the desired inward response. To keep from wasting his play-time standing in the corner, a child may outwardly acquiesce and temporarily stop hitting his sister. However, he does so for his own immediate benefit, and he will usually, as a consequence, despise his parents rather than honor them.
Some psychologists promote sitting down and reasoning with a child. However, seldom can a young child be reasoned with anymore than a person can reason with a fool:
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)
You cannot reason with foolishness, but proper loving discipline, with instruction, will drive foolishness from your child. This same general principle has been summed up in a number of different ways:
A pat on the back helps develop character if given early enough, often enough and low enough.
Not only will the rod of correction drive foolishness from a child, it also fosters wisdom:
Children, like canoes, are more easily controlled if paddled from the rear.
When a youth starts sowing his wild oats, it is time for the parents to start the thrashing machine.
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. (Proverbs 29:15)
Honor does not occur naturally with children, but godly discipline will point them in the right direction.
The Rod of Correction
He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently. (Proverbs 13:24 NASV)
In the May 1990 Baby Care Magazine, in an article entitled "10 Myths About Child Development," Julius Segal adamantly disagreed with the inspired words of King Solomon:
Spare the rod, and spoil the child. Probably no child-rearing fiction has been as convincingly disproved as this one - yet it is still devoutly believed by countless parents, who inflict physical pain in the name of discipline as a cornerstone of their child-rearing techniques…. Research has convincingly demonstrated that using the 'rod' creates children who are not more obedient but who are instead simply more angry and aggressive than other kids. Parents who routinely slap or strike their children are actually handing them a model of violence to imitate - and many do indeed grow to be abusive, some even murderously so.7
Imagine what some naïve parent is going to think after reading the foregoing paragraph. What parent in their right mind wants to raise a murderer!
Both sides of the corporal punishment debate can and have provided research, studies and statistics to substantiate their claims. Consequently, it comes down to the question: Whom are you going to believe? Are you going to believe some finite "createe," who almost always has a bent toward rebellion against his or her Maker and His ways, or are you going to believe the Creator who formed you and knows best how you function and who knows your needs much better than you do yourself?
Visit any public building or park and it is easy to distinguish the parents who believe in Biblical discipline and those who have been hoodwinked, doublecrossed and deceived by Dr. Benjamin Spock8 and his contemporary colleagues like Julius Segal. Parents who believe in the omniscient Yahweh and His instructions for their family do not have children making fools of them like those who have put their faith in some finite nincompoop! The disgrace and shame for such parents begins with fussy, whiney, uncontrollable toddlers; it only gets worse as they grow older.
In his later years Doctor Spock rejected his own teaching after witnessing the consequences of a generation of children who had been raised by the principles found his book Baby and Child Care:
We are what Dr. Benjamin Spock made us, which is why he … is so troubled by the miserable mess Americans have made of their society…. The very generation raised by his precepts has let Dr. Spock down.9
Baby and Child Care begins "Trust yourself, you may know more than you think you do," whereas the Bible warns "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes…." (Proverbs 12:15) and "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death…." (Proverbs 14:12).
King Solomon went so far as to laud the benefits of a good beating when it is required:
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell [sheol, the grave]. (Proverbs 23:13-14)
Caning is not the recommended form of corporal punishment. Nevertheless, even the infamous caning by Singapore officials of Michael Fay for vandalism in 199410 did not kill him. However, it certainly deterred him and others from committing the same crimes again.
The Bible neither promotes nor condones abuse in any fashion. On the other hand, there are some parents who abuse the biblical mandate for corporal punishment, and who go far beyond loving discipline. These exceptions are, of course, the incidents cited by anti-Bible liberals who reject Yahweh's laws. They hear of some isolated case of parental abuse and then label all physical discipline as cruel, barbaric and inhumane.
However, before falling for the propaganda of these agnostics and atheists, a person should keep in mind that these cynics are often the same people who hypocritically demand a woman's right to cruelly, barbarically and inhumanely kill her baby while in the womb.
Children are abused in at least two different ways. Some children have parents who physically violate, molest and injure them. Other children have parents who abuse them by dereliction of duty. Children in the latter category are neglected and are consequently allowed to go to seed, to hell if you will, as the consequence of parents who cannot bring themselves to do what needs to be done as it pertains to corporal punishment.
Such parents cannot hide behind the façade of a kind heart. A truly kind and caring parent looks beyond the pain of the present moment in time and looks to the future, possibly the eternity of their child. Kindness does not deprive a child of discipline, wisdom and direction in life. Whatever else might be said about J. Edgar Hoover, he had the following correct, "Parents who almost never have delinquent children are those parents whose decisions are controlled, not by the child's wants but by the child's needs." 11 And sometimes children need a "swat team" sent out after them!
Those who, because of "a tender heart" or some other lame reason, refuse to discipline their wayward child are only contributing to the delinquency of their child. As a rule it is delinquent parents who produce delinquent children. Not only are they abusers of their own children, but they are also subsequently abusers of society in general. The lack of parental discipline leads to the lack of self-discipline, and the lack of self-discipline often engenders derelicts and outright criminals. Eventually, children, undisciplined by their parents, will be disciplined, possibly by a judge in a human court of law or if not there then some day in the court room of the eternal Judge of judges.
In the Fifth Commandment fathers are listed before mothers. However, in Leviticus 19:1-3, which mandates that children are to fear their parents, the order is reversed in that it specifies mothers first. The reason for this can only be speculated because the Bible does not expound on Yahweh's reason for placing mothers first in this particular statute. Nevertheless, it is generally true that children have the innate tendency to fear their fathers more than their mothers. With this in mind, possibly mothers were given precedence in this statute to help insure that they will not be taken advantage of by their children, especially by older sons.
Women will get much further and reap greater dividends if they treat their husbands with honor, respect and gentleness. However, when it comes to their children there are times when mothers need to get tough. Yet, there are women who, because of their very nature, have difficulty doing so. Consequently, husbands must be their wives' first line of defense. If a child's mother does not enforce this statute, then the child's father must enforce it on his wife's behalf. In other words, fathers must never, under any circumstances, permit their children to speak or act dishonorably toward their mothers.
Yahweh's Perfect Plan
When Yahweh's blueprint for our lives is rejected, everything becomes inverted. It is Yahweh's design that children, in addition to loving their parents, also fear them. However, in today's godless society it is often parents who fear their children. In 1983 Readers Digest published the article "I'm Afraid of My Own Child" in which the following was stated:
It's a widespread problem that no one is talking about - it's called the "Battered Parent Syndrome."12
The Prophet Isaiah warned us of such a perverted society:
As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. (Isaiah 3:12)
In contrast, consider more of King Solomon's wisdom:
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (Proverbs 19:18)
Transgression of the Fifth Commandment is one of the primary causes of the collapse of a godly society. It is also where a departure from Yahweh often begins for a child. A person is not likely to become a thief, murderer or adulterer who honors his parents, and a person is not likely to dishonor his parents who honors Yahweh.
My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9)
Although there is nothing stated about listening to your parents in the Pentateuch, listening is a prerequisite to obedience.
A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke. (Proverbs 13:1)
Everyone has experienced a "conversation" with someone where it became evident that the other person's mind was somewhere else and that they could really care less about what you were saying. "How rude! How disrespectful! How impertinent!" And yet multitudes of parents permit their children to treat them in the same disrespectful fashion.
It has been said that listening is a forgotten art. However, the forgotten art is training our children how to listen. If you expect your children to obey you, then they must first be taught how to listen. In other words, children should be made to give their undivided attention when addressed by a parent or by any adult. Disrespect begins not with disobedience, but with indifference.
Honor begins by making your children give you their undivided attention when you are speaking to them, and this does not just mean that they look at you when you are conversing with them. If you expect your children's obedience, then you must not only make them stop what they are doing, shut their mouths and look at you, but you must also get them out of what is commonly called "la la" land. Any parent who has witnessed that glazed-over look from their child knows what I am referring to.
First get your child's attention and then proceed with your instructions. If you do not first get their attention, it is your fault if they disregard your commands.
My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother. (Proverbs 6:20)
Honor is principally demonstrated through obedience. The person who listens but does not obey is likened by James as a fool who looks at himself in a mirror and who then immediately forgets what he looks like - James 1:23-24.
The antithesis of obedience is rebellion and stubbornness. The Prophet Samuel explained to King Saul that "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (1 Samuel 15:23). In Yahweh's sight, you essentially have a bunch of little witches and idolaters running around your home if your children are rebellious and stubborn. But, whose fault is it if your children are uncontrollable, disobedient brats? Some parents obviously think that their children are supposed to magically be obedient and well behaved. It does not work that way. Thus, if you have a bunch of little "witches" and "idolaters" in your home, it is your fault for rejecting Yahweh's instruction manual.
With Samuel's parallelism in mind, parents should be mindful that witchcraft and idolatry are listed by the Apostle Paul as deeds of the flesh with serious repercussions:
…the deeds of the flesh are … immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery [witchcraft KJV], enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you … that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NASV)
How many of these deeds of the flesh are being manifested by your children? Hopefully your children are not exhibiting immorality, impurity, sensuality and drunkenness, but what about "idolatry" and "witchcraft," that is, stubbornness and rebellion? What about enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions and envyings? These are the characteristics of the undisciplined.
The attributes of the parentally disciplined and the self-disciplined are found in the two subsequent verses, and they are the product of Spirit-controlled lives:
…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NASV)
Which list best represents your children?
In All Things and In the Lord
Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)
Children are commanded to obey their parents in everything. However, absolute obedience to parental commands is conditional and is only required when such demands are given "in the Lord," that is, in harmony with Yahweh's commands:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother…. (Ephesians 6:1-2)
As with all subordinate authority, children are only required to obey their parents when it does not transgress a higher command of Yahweh's. In 1860 John Wingate Thornton plainly wrote about this truism:
…no civil rulers [or any other authorities] are to be obeyed when they enjoin things that are inconsistent with the commands of God. All such disobedience is lawful and glorious…. All commands running counter to the declared will of [Yahweh] the Supreme Legislator of heaven and earth are null and void, and therefore disobedience to them is a duty, not a crime.13
King Solomon's wisdom demanded the same common sense approach to submission:
I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment … in regard of the oath of God. (Ecclesiastes 8:2)
No one has the right to require his or her child to do anything contrary to the expressed will of Yahweh as stated in His Word. If a parent does otherwise, a child has the right and the obligation to his higher authority, his Creator, to disobey such wishes, desires or commands of a parent. Yeshua, as an adolescent, demonstrated that it is not insubordination to "disobey" a lower authority when obedience to a higher authority requires that you do so. In Luke 2:51 we are told that Yeshua was "subject unto" Joseph and Mary. However, in the three previous verses, we are told that Yeshua instead of leaving Jerusalem with His parents as expected, remained behind to discuss the law with the religious elders. When Joseph and Mary returned and found Him in the temple, the ensuing conversation took place in which Yeshua made it clear that He was more obligated to His Heavenly Father than He was to His earthly parents:
…when they [Joseph and Mary] saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he [Yeshua] said unto them…. Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? (Luke 2:48-49)
As Unto the Lord
The phrase "in the Lord" can also be interpreted "as unto the Lord." Anytime someone is given a command by a subordinate authority that is in concert with Yahweh's will, the subordinate authority must be obeyed as if Yahweh Himself had delivered the same command.
Aside from Yeshua and His example of obedience unto the Heavenly Father, Isaac provides the consummate example of this type of obedience. In the biblical account of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, it is Abraham's obedience that is emphasized. However, Abraham was not the only one who obeyed that day on Mount Moriah. According to the book of Jasher, 14 Isaac was 37 years old at the time of the sacrifice. This means that Abraham was 137 years old. Consequently, if Isaac had rebelled and refused to be that day's sacrifice there would have been little that Abraham could have done about it. What is often overlooked about this incident is that when Abraham told Isaac that he had been commanded by Yahweh to sacrifice him, Isaac, honoring his father and his God, obediently climbed up and laid himself on the altar. Following is a portion from Jasher's account of this moving episode:
…when they were going along Isaac said to his father, behold, I see here the fire and wood, and where then is the lamb that is to be the burnt offering before the Lord? And Abraham answered … the Lord has made choice of thee my son, to be a perfect burnt offering instead of the lamb. And Isaac said unto his father, I will do all that the Lord spoke to thee with joy and cheerfulness of heart…. There is nothing in my heart to cause me to deviate either to the right or to the left from the word that he has spoken to thee…. And he [Abraham] took his son Isaac and bound him…. And Isaac said to his father, bind me securely … lest I should turn and move, and break loose from the force of the knife upon my flesh and thereby profane the burnt offering…. And Abraham … wept when Isaac spake these words; and Abraham's tears gushed down upon Isaac his son, and Isaac wept bitterly, and he said to his father, hasten thou, O my father, and do with me the will of the Lord our God as he has commanded thee. And the hearts of Abraham and Isaac rejoiced at this thing which the Lord had commanded them; but the eye wept bitterly whilst the heart rejoiced. And Abraham bound his son Isaac … and Isaac stretched forth his neck upon the altar before his father, and Abraham stretched forth his hand to take the knife to slay his son as a burnt offering before the Lord. (Jasher 23:50-65)
Although Isaac was spared, he nevertheless honored his father "as unto the Lord." Our children should be taught to do likewise. In addition to obeying fully, they should also be trained to respond instantaneously. In other words, a child should be taught to obey the first time a request is made or a command is given, regardless of the voice inflection, instead of the sixth, eighth or tenth time when the parent's voice has reached that certain pitch that lets his child know that he finally means business.
Eventually, every good parent will demand obedience. Consequently, it is just a matter of how and when you train your children to respond - the first time, as unto the Lord, or after a certain number of demands and only after you have screamed at them. If you already have a problem with the response time in your home, the problem is not with your children, but rather with how you trained them. However, as difficult as it may first appear, it is never too late to repent and to put your house in order.
This same principle holds true for any authority a parent places his child under. Because subordinate authority, including civil authority, falls under parental authority and parental authority falls under Yahweh's authority, any bona fide authority must be obeyed as if it were Yahweh Himself.
Parental authority is often viewed as being second to civil authority, when in fact it is just the opposite. The proper structure is Yahweh's authority above all others, parental authority next and finally civil and all other authority. This is demonstrated by the fact that children are not gifts given by Yahweh to government or anyone else, but rather they are gifts given to their parents:
Behold, children are a gift of YHWH; the fruit of the womb is a reward…. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them…. (Psalm 127:3-5 NASV)
In other words, civil government has no business requiring anything of a child which that child's parents has not given it permission to demand. Civil authority is, or should be, just an arm of parental authority or, better yet, Yahweh's authority. Government is not an authority of a child except when it is acting under the authority of and in the best interests of Yahweh and that child's parents. The same holds true for spiritual leaders. They too act as an extension of Yahweh and a child's parents.
The Apostle Paul mentioned subordinate authority when writing to the Galatian church:
…the heir … is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. (Galatians 4:1-2)
The principle of subordinate authority and the honor due them is clear in this passage. The tutors and governors or governesses are placed over a child by his parents, specifically by a child's father. This is known as "coverture expansion," that is, when a father, in his absence, puts his child under the care, tutelage or protection of someone else. This is something that fathers do quite often and, as a rule, far too lightly.
If you are wondering, "Do I do this?" Consider the following questions: Does your child attend a public or Christian school? If home schooled, are your children tutored or apprenticed by someone else? Are your children involved in any extra-curricular activities or outside clubs? Do your children receive private voice, instrument or martial arts lessons? Are your children involved in Little League or other sports outside of the home? Are your children employed outside the home? Are your children ever cared for by babysitters? If you have answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you have placed your children under the expanded coverture of these club leaders, instructors, coaches, employers or guardians. What do you know about these people? What are their values? Are they Christians, agnostics or atheists? What kind of examples are they to your children?
When a father places his child under the authority of someone else, he has essentially told his child, "This person meets my approval and has my blessing. I'm convinced that with this person you will be spiritually, emotionally and physically safe." A responsible adult and honorable parent will thus carefully interview anyone who he intends to expand his coverture responsibilities to. Once your coverture has been extended to someone else, your child should honor them as they do you, that is, "as unto the Lord."
Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen. (Deuteronomy 27:16)
Young's Literal Bible translates the phrase "setteth light by" as "making light," Ferrar Fenton renders it as "insults," the New English Bible translates it as "who sleights," and the New Berkley Version renders it as "despises." The Hebrew word "qalah" literally means "to hold in contempt."
There are children who would never consider robbing or physically harming their parents but who are cursed nonetheless because they hold their parents in contempt. To some people this may seem especially harsh. However, to Yahweh such a person is wicked. King Solomon comments upon the contempt of the wicked:
When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt…. (Proverbs 18:3)
The root problem of such contempt is pride:
…O YHWH, have mercy upon us…. Our soul is exceedingly filled … with the contempt of the proud. (Psalm 123:3-4)
Contempt is usually the by-product of someone who thinks that he is more important than those he holds in derision, a condition very common to the majority of today's teenagers who have not been disciplined to honor their parents. Pride is one of the seven things that Yahweh hates most:
These six things doth YHWH hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Heading this list of abominations is "a proud look" or "haughty eyes" as it is rendered in the New American Standard Version. Solomon had the following to say about haughty or lofty eyes:
There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother…. There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes and their eyelids are lifted up. (Proverbs 30:11-13)
Solomon also tells us what the consequence is of such eyes:
The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it. (Proverbs 30:17)
Although this proverb is probably not meant to be taken literally, nonetheless, it can be seen how serious a transgression despising one's parents is to Yahweh.
A child who dishonors, despises or hates his parents is usually the person who is most miserable. Parent-contempt is essentially a form of self-hatred because ill feelings poison the child harboring them, and often makes the child more miserable than the parent against whom such feelings are harbored.
Furthermore, contempt often leads to more grievous offenses such as cursing, robbing and physical abuse, all of which are becoming more prevalent in today's godless society.
Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am YHWH your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them…. For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him. (Leviticus 20:7-9)
Cursing one's parents may not be deemed as that serious of a transgression. However, it is serious enough in Yahweh's judgment to warrant the death penalty. Children today who curse or malign their parents can count themselves fortunate that a Christian civil body politic enforcing Yahweh's commandments, statutes and judgments is not in power today.
According to the Apostle Paul, fathers especially need to be careful to "…provoke not [their] children to anger, lest they be discouraged." (Colossians 3:21). Nevertheless, even if parents provoke their children it does not excuse children from speaking irreverently to or cursing their parents. Children are to bear up even under what they consider to be harsh and unjust treatment:
Servants [applicable to all subordinates such as employees, wives and children], be submissive to your masters [employers, husbands and parents] with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats…. (1 Peter 2:18-23 NASV)
The Greek philosopher Plato put it similarly:
…throughout all his life he [any man] must diligently observe reverence of speech towards his parents above all things … wherefore the son must yield to his parents when they are wroth, and, when they give rein to their wrath either by word or deed, he must pardon them, seeing that it is most natural for a father to be especially wroth when he deems that he is wronged by his own son. 15
In His sermon on the Mount, Yeshua took this principle a step further:
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. (Luke 6:28)
The Apostle Paul reiterated the same:
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. (Romans 12:14)
If our personal enemies are to be treated in this fashion, how much more so our own parents? The promise given to Abram in Genesis 12 regarding blessings and curses, in a sense, extends to our parents as well. Those who bless their parents are likely to be blessed, whereas those who curse their parents will be cursed:
Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness. (Proverbs 20:20)
He that wasteth his father … is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach. (Proverbs 19:26)
When not translated "wasteth" the Hebrew word "shadad" is most often translated as "spoileth" in the King James Bible. The Jerusalem Bible translates "shadad" as "dispossesses," the Holy Bible in Modern English by Ferrar Fenton renders "shadad" as "robs":
Who robs his father … is a son of shame and reproach. (Proverbs 19:26 FF)
Some people rationalize robbing their parents, "It's really not stealing; after all it's only my parents!" or "Some day it's going to all be mine anyway, so what's the difference whether I get it now or later?" However, these excuses do not justify looting one's parents. King Solomon describes such a person in the following terms:
Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer. (Proverbs 28:24)
Such a person may not outright destroy, plunder or totally liquidate their parent's estate, they just do it on the installment plan, little by little, until their parents are destitute and at the mercy of the government.
The Pharisees and scribes of Yeshua's day came up with what they thought was an ingenious way for getting around the Fifth Commandment:
…He [Yeshua] answered and said unto them [the Pharisees and scribes], Well hath Esaias [Isaiah] prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me…. Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a [consecrated] gift [to the temple fund], by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free [from the requirements of the Fifth Commandment]. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; making the word of God of none effect through your tradition…. (Mark 7:5-13)
The Pharisees and scribes justified their actions, or lack thereof, toward their parents by attempting to use their "greater responsibility to God" as their rationale for withholding from their parents that which would help them. In other words, they plundered their parents under the pretense of giving to God. The Pharisees withheld what rightfully belonged to someone else, in this case their parents, and used it for their tithe to Yahweh. They thought they were getting around Proverbs 28:24, when in fact this verse of Scripture was made for them. It is also made for any modern Pharisee who might come up with some likewise "ingenious" scheme for robbing his parents or shirking his God-given responsibilities regarding his parents under the Fifth Commandment.
…he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. (Exodus 21:15)
Physical assault upon parents is becoming more prevalent in today's godless society as a consequence of rejecting the laws of Yahweh. Such parental abuse is a capital crime according to Yahweh's moral standards. Thus a child who is able to understand the consequence of his actions and who deliberately strikes his parent should be put to death.
Fear, listen, obey, despise not, curse not, rob not and strike not are Fifth Commandment statutes that must be complied with in order for parents to be properly honored. In turn, anyone who transgresses these statutes should not expect Yahweh to bless them with prosperity and a long life here on earth.
Old Age Parental Care
In the Corban incident of Mark 7, Yeshua reckoned the Pharisees as being responsible for the care of their aging parents. Yeshua used the Pharisees' disobedience to illustrate the primacy of Yahweh's laws over the traditions of men. Therefore, we should expect to find a provision for old age parental care in the law:
Thou shalt rise up before the hoary [white-haired] head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am YHWH. (Leviticus 19:32)
In other words, the elderly, with the exception of the wicked, should be honored no matter who they are. Consider also the following admonition:
…if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. (Leviticus 25:35)
In modern terminology this is known as hospice care. If the honor and hospice care described in the two previous passages is due to strangers, then certainly our parents are deserving of the same treatment.
Older and sometimes feeble parents left to fend for themselves or who are "farmed out" to strangers are certainly not being honored by their children. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14 the Apostle Paul admonished the Thessalonian Christians to "comfort the feebleminded" and "support the weak." Yet, regrettably, in today's society hospitality is seldom shown to strangers, and in many instances it is not even offered to our parents.
King Solomon was more specific concerning elderly parents:
Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old. (Proverbs 23:22)
It is a heartless child who would turn away his aging parents in their hour of greatest need.
The First Line of Defense
The church, not the government as we know it today, should be the first line of defense for impoverished people. Actually, the church or ecclesia was meant to form and be its own government. This is especially evident in 1 Corinthians 6:1-5 where the Apostle Paul chastens the Corinthian Christians for looking to the pagan courts of law to settle their disputes. However, today because the church has neglected its responsibility to form and be its own Christian civil body politic, another ecclesia, a pagan civil body politic has stepped in to "fill" the vacancy. Nevertheless, Paul made it clear that the church is to be the first line of defense for qualified widows and, by principle, other elderly or destitute people. The first line of defense from who? Among others, from children who are not fulfilling their responsibilities to their own parents and other relatives:
Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God…. But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel…. If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. (1 Timothy 5:3-16)
The New American Standard Version renders verse 4 using the word grandchildren in place of nephews:
…if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them … make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. ( 1 Timothy 5:4 NASV)
Aristotle, another Greek philosopher, made nearly the same point:
…our [older or feeble] parents have the first claim on us for maintenance, since we owe it to them as a debt, and to support the authors of our being stands before self-preservation in moral nobility. 16
Plato put it in the following fashion:
…to these [parents] duty enjoins that the debtor should pay back the first and greatest of debts, the most primary of all dues, and that he should acknowledge that all that he owns and has belongs to those who begot and reared him, so that he ought to give them service to the utmost of his power. 17
Our parents can never be fully repaid for all they have given to us. Nevertheless, children should make some return for all that their parents have sacrificed on their behalf. The church should only be responsible for the elderly or destitute who do not have family members to care for them. Verse 8 of 1 Timothy 5 has the Apostle Paul declaring that "…if any [child, grandchild, nephew or other relative] provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel…." This statement, according to its context, is specifically used in relation to old age parental care. In other words, any Christian who fails to care for his parents in his parent's hour of need is more reprobate in Yahweh's sight than are non-Christians.
The Right of Primogeniture
Grown children are responsible for the care of their elderly parents, but who is primarily responsible for such parental care in a large family? The Apostle Paul answers this question in part:
If any man or woman that believeth have widows [in their family], let them relieve them…. (1 Timothy 5:16)
In order to insure that widows are properly cared for, Paul admonished all Christians to care for such needy family members. However, according to the law of Yahweh the responsibility for such care and/or oversight falls primarily on the shoulders of the eldest son. This is known as the law of primogeniture:
If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: But he shall acknowledge … the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his. (Deuteronomy 21:15-17)
The right of the firstborn son is a double portion or inheritance of that of the rest of the heirs. To some people, this will seem unfair. However, Yahweh is not unjust, and with this double inheritance comes also a greater responsibility.
With some exceptions, the firstborn son was and should be the heir apparent or the patriarch-in-waiting. The care and well-being of his own family and his extended family, including his parents, should be primarily his responsibility. 18 This does not necessarily mean that the eldest son is the one who always houses his elderly parents, but he is principally responsible for making sure that such care is provided and paid for.
The right of primogeniture is a great privilege, albeit one with great responsibility. However, the right of primogeniture can be lost or forfeited as a consequence of moral failure. Reuben and Esau provide Biblical examples of this fact. Reuben lost his right of primogeniture to Joseph, and Esau lost his firstborn privileges to Jacob. Joseph, subsequently, took the responsibilities of primogeniture seriously:
…Joseph nourished [provided for NASV] his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families. (Genesis 47:12)
Yeshua, at His death, passed on the primary responsibility and care of His mother to the Apostle John rather than to His brother James:
…there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother…. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple [John] standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. (John 19:25-27)
At that time James and Yeshua's other brothers were either non-believers or perhaps they did not have the financial means to adequately provide for Mary. Yeshua knew that Mary would be best taken care of under the care of His cousin John.
Yahweh's law also provides for the family when there are no sons:
…the daughters of Zelophehad … stood before Moses … saying, … Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father. And Moses brought their cause before Yahweh. And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying, The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father's brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter. (Numbers 27:1-8)
The law also provides for childless couples:
…if he [a man of Israel] have no [son or] daughter, then ye [Moses and/or the judges in Israel] shall give his inheritance unto his [the man of Israel's own] brethren. And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father's brethren. And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as Yahweh commanded Moses. (Numbers 27:9-11)
When the inheritance is passed on the responsibilities that come with it are, of course, likewise inherited. It was for this reason that Naomi's nearest kinsmen relinquished to Boaz his right of redemption to Elimelech's land in Ruth 4:1-10.
It is regrettable that, along with many other aspects of Yahweh's law, the fact and principle of primogeniture has been abandoned by the majority of today's families. In place of the eldest son, often known as "big brother" by his siblings, the government, also known as "big brother," has stepped in to fill the vacancy. Anytime we reject Yahweh's institutions, there is always a counterfeit surrogate to fill the void with negative or tragic consequences.
Many churches and ministries are also contributing to parental desertion and are involved in dispossessing children of their family inheritance. It has become a fairly common practice for certain ministries to appeal to their elderly supporters to assign the ministry as heir to part or all of their estate. The appeal by such ministries is something akin to the following, "It is a final and parting way to give to God while leaving this life and entering the next one! What better way to enter into the presence of God!"
On the surface, this line of reasoning sounds noble. However, so did the Pharisee's Corban argument in Mark 7. The truth is such ministry tactics are nothing but another "ingenious" way to rob, if not the parents themselves, then those who are the rightful heirs. A person's inheritance does not belong to a church or ministry, but to that person's family:
A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. (Proverbs 13:22)
Often seen on the back of today's touring motor homes is the ungodly bumper sticker that reads: "We're spending our children's inheritance!" This is essentially the same thing that ministries are doing when they prey upon the elderly for a slice of their estate. The only difference is that these ministries are spending someone else's children's inheritance!
In some instances ministries that make a practice of this are robbing parents of in-home care. Consequently, without the inheritance their children or other relatives are often financially incapable of caring for their own parents and must relegate their parents to a nursing home.
In twentieth century America, a person's heirs do not normally see the inheritance until after the death of their parents. This was not the case in Bible times, demonstrated in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 who squandered his inheritance on riotous living prior to his father's death. Parents today should likewise pass on the inheritance to their children while they, the parents, are still living. This would lessen the financial burden upon the grown children and make it more likely for them to be able to provide for their parents in their later years. Today, instead of the children receiving the inheritance while the parents are still alive, in many instances, nursing homes and retirement centers are procuring the inheritance. This is, of course, one more way to rob someone else's children of their inheritance and older parents of in-home family care. This is often accomplished by playing on the unselfishness of the parents and the selfishness of the children. Elderly parents are pitched, "You won't have to be a burden to your children! Let the burden be ours!" The children are pitched, "You won't have be burdened! Let us take the burden off your shoulders!" However, this is not motivated by kindness or concern for you and your family. Simply put, nursing homes and retirement centers are big business making big money at someone else's expense.
America has become a society of irresponsible people in a multitude of ways, and it has become another tradition of men in our present society to pawn off parental care to someone else. We have also become a throw-away society even when it comes to our own parents to whom we owe our very lives. In many instances, nursing homes are just this society's human garbage bins for unwanted parents. Nevertheless, I would be remiss if I did not point out that today's nursing homes may very well be part of Yahweh's judgment upon the generation of parents who legalized infanticide, 19 the murder of unborn babies, who are being dumped in literal garbage bins. The Prophet Jeremiah wrote of such backlash repercussions:
Hear, O earth: behold, I [Yahweh] will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it. (Jeremiah 6:19)
Fifth Commandment Judgment
If nothing else convinces a person of the Fifth Commandment's gravity, then the severity of the judgment for Fifth Commandment transgression should. Once again consider how serious Yahweh considers violation of this commandment:
Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen. (Deuteronomy 27:16)
What kind of curse might such a person suffer?
Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness. (Proverbs 20:20)
Although these two proverbs provide us with Yahweh's posture toward this sin, they do not provide the judgment for Fifth Commandment transgression. These proverbs only assure us that the person who dishonors their parents will not get away with their crime even when the governing civil body politic is unwilling to enforce the judgment prescribed for this offense.
The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it. (Proverbs 30:17)
Moses prescribed the judgment for violation of the Fifth Commandment:
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; and they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
This judgment does not mean that all rebellion by a child is to be punished by stoning. Moses stipulated under what conditions stoning is mandated:
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them…. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
This is a description of a child who, in spite of his parent's consistent discipline, habitually breaks the Fifth Commandment and doubtless other commandments as well. It describes a discipline problem so serious that even his parents have given up hope of rehabilitating him and who thus turn him over themselves to the civil authorities to be put to death.
An Eye Opening Contrast
Contrast the parent of Deuteronomy 21 with parents who are always bailing their rebellious and criminal children out of whatever situation they find themselves in. Such misplaced sympathy does as much good for such a child as it does for society; the child keeps sinning and society keeps suffering. This is actually filial hatred masquerading as filial love from a parent not disciplined enough himself to discern between their own confused emotions and what is best for their child.
In a healthy society, misguided pity can never be allowed to overrule justice. Such pity just encourages and even perpetuates criminal behavior. Note the concluding remarks of Moses' instruction in Deuteronomy:
…all the men of his city shall stone him [the rebellious son] with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (Deuteronomy 21:21)
The primary purpose of capital punishment is its future mass effect in deterring others from criminal behavior. The immediate removal of the specific criminal from society is only its secondary purpose. Make it mandatory for every adult and child to attend a public stoning of an incorrigible child and society will not have anywhere near the number of rebellious sons and daughters as it does today, and consequently less criminals overall.
Parents who refuse to discipline their wayward child are accessories to their child's villainy and should be responsible for any restitution due as a consequence of their child's crimes. Such parents should count themselves fortunate that Yahweh's law forbids that a parent be put to death for their child's sin:
The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. (Deuteronomy 24:16)
Nevertheless, the high priest, Eli, was judged for his lack of parental discipline that contributed to his sons' inquity:
...YHWH said to Samuel, ... In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house.... For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. (1st Samuel 3: 11-13)
Envision a society where parents like those described in Deuteronomy 21 are the rule rather than the exception. Nearly all criminal behavior would be nipped in the bud as a result of consistent, godly discipline administered before children reach adulthood or by the removal from society altogether of the children who refuse to properly respond to their parent's chastening. A society made up of such parents would have very few incorrigible sons and daughters. Furthermore, if parents would incriminate their own flesh and blood, what do you think they would do with the rest of society's criminals? The implementation of the Fifth Commandment with its judgment alone would come very close to transforming our so-called modern society into Yahweh's kingdom here on earth as it is already in heaven.
Good Timber or Nuts?
The realization of Fifth Commandment compliance is dependent upon parents rearing their children in the Lord, teaching them all of Yahweh's commandments. In other words, in order to insure that your family tree produces good timber instead of nuts, it requires consistent vine dressing such as described by Moses:
Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently … [and] teach them [the statutes and judgments to] thy sons, and thy sons' sons. (Deuteronomy 4:9)
These and similar passages make it apparent that in order to have a lasting impact upon our children we must not only instruct our children, but that, as parents, we must also first live what we teach. Yeshua commented upon this principle:
Therefore shall ye lay up these my words [the commandments, statutes and judgments of Yahweh] in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which YHWH sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)
A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40 NASV)
This principle also applies to a father and his son and a mother and her daughter. If we desire children who will honor us both when they are young and after they are grown, we must set a righteous example, commence their training early and consistently follow through, and our children will be less likely to depart from it when they are grown - Proverbs 22:6.
Your Child's Heart
I took a piece of clay and idly molded it one day,
And as my fingers pressed it still, it moved and yielded to my will.
And I came again when days were past, the piece of clay was hard at last.
And the shape I gave it still it bore, and I could change it never more.
I took a piece of living clay, and gently formed it day by day.
And I molded it with power and art,
A young child's soft and yielding heart.
I came again when years were gone; he was a man I looked upon.
He's still that early impressed bore, and I could change him never more.
After quoting the Fifth Commandment, the Apostle Paul admonished the Christian fathers in Ephesus to "…provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4). As difficult as the first half of this admonition is for many fathers, the second half is even more challenging. Every child not only deserves to be fed, housed, clothed and raised in a clean, healthy and safe environment and to be properly educated, but he or she also deserves to be brought up in the Lord, that is, instructed in the knowledge of Yahweh and His commandments and statutes, educated in His principles and precepts, and disciplined in His judgments. Parents, do you want to do something monumental with your life? Then accept the challenge of nurturing and admonishing your children in the Lord that they, in turn, might honor you throughout their lives.
A copy of this article is available in MS Word in a zipped file and can be downloaded HERE.
1. Yahweh is the personal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible. Where the Tetragrammaton "YHWH" - the four Hebrew characters that represent the personal name of God - has been incorrectly rendered as "the LORD" or "GOD" in Scripture, the author has taken the liberty to correct those passages and insert "YHWH."
2. All scripture is quoted from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.
3. "Yeshua" is the English transliteration of our Savior's Hebrew name and is preferred by the author.
4. Theodore "Ted" Bundy (aka Chris Hagen) is probably America's most notorious sex offender and serial murderer. Bundy confessed to 23 murders: 10 in Washington, 5 in Colorado, 4 in Utah, 3 in Florida and 1 in Oregon. He killed his first victim in 1974. He was convicted of two murders in Florida in 1978 and was electrocuted in 1989.
5. Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted of 17 murders in 1992 to which he pleaded insanity. He also admitted to cannibalism and necrophilia. While serving a life sentence in prison he was murdered by a fellow inmate in 1994.
6. Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1973) Volume 1, p. 192.
7. Julius Segal, "10 Myths About Child Development," Baby Care Magazine, May, 1990, p. 7.
8. Doctor Benjamin Spock (1903-1998), author of Baby and Child Care (1946), changed the way generations of parents raised their children by rejecting the Bible's mandate for corporal punishment.
9. Jerry Adler, "Dr. Spock in Despair," Newsweek (New York, NY: Newsweek, Inc., October 24, 1994) p. 84.
10. On October 6, 1993 Michael Fay was found guilty in a Singapore court of law for possessing stolen street signs and for spray-painting automobiles. He was sentenced to four months in prison and to public caning. The caning was administered in May of 1994.
11. J. (John) Edgar Hoover. Source unknown.
12. Cliff Yudell, "I'm Afraid of My Own Child," Readers Digest (Pleasantville, NY: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., August,1983) p. 78.
13. John Wingate Thornton, The Pulpit of the American Revolution - Political Sermons of the Period of 1776 (New York, NY: Da Capo Press, 1970) p. 86.
14. The book of Jasher, although not considered part of the inspired canon of Scripture, is cited twice and endorsed in Joshua 10:13 and in 2 Samuel 1:18. Jasher can be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, NE 69363 for a suggested $8.00 donation.
15. Plato, Laws, Book IV, 717, D, English translation by R. G. Bury, Litt.D. (Cambridge, MS: Harvard University Press, 1961) p. 299.
16. Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, IX, ii, 8, English translation by H. Rackham, M.A. (Cambridge, MS: Harvard University Press, 1962) p. 527.
17. Plato, Laws, Book IV, 717, C, pg. 299.
18. The law of primogeniture and the responsibilities that accompany it should be given serious consideration before a young lady marries a firstborn son.
19. The liberal, leftist opinion-makers often win the war of words before it even begins by preconditioning the public mind by semantic engineering. For example, Roe vs. Wade was won prior to reaching the judicial arena by identifying the battle as one of abortion rather than infanticide. The primary definition for abortion in the 1975 Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary is as follows: "abortion… 1: the expulsion of a nonviable fetus: as a spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus during the first 12 weeks of gestation - compare miscarriage…." ["abortion," Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MS: G. & C. Merriam Company, 1975) p. 3.] "miscarriage… 2: expulsion of a human fetus before it is viable and esp. between the 12th and 28th weeks of gestation." ["miscarriage," Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 734.] Technically a miscarriage is an abortion. What judge or jury in their right mind would rule against a miscarriage? Had the battle been waged over infanticide or infant murder, rather than abortion Roe vs. Wade would likewise have been won before reaching the courtroom. No judge or jury would have ruled in favor of murder.
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