The Fifth Commandment – part 2 Rabbi Michael Weiner
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 a promise), so that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.
Well, it seems that the 5th commandment “survived the cut.” The New Testament commentators on all the Scriptures (both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament) decided that some commandments have been made obsolete by a “new and better way.” Actually, it is true, some have been done away. The big question is, which ones? The 5th commandment receives universal endorsement. It has not been done away.
After the introduction to “honor your father and your mother,” we find a Hebrew word, L’ma’an meaning “for the purpose of,” “so that,” – or “in order to.” It is an expression in Hebrew that what follows will give the intent or purpose of the action. The action is to honor parents, but for what purpose?
The Hebrew words that follow are Ya’arichun Yamecha, translated as “… that your days may be long …” It means that your days would be prolonged. For those who obey God and honor their parents, it is not just more time, but more time “in the land.” That phrase “in the land” also has the connotation of blessing in the presence of God.
But last time I left off with a question. What do we do when our parents are not honorable? Every parent is human, and humans make mistakes, some big and some small. But every parent is imperfect. So what do we do? The answer is simple, and found in this statement. When we honor our parents, we honor God, Who created them, and the commandment of God to honor them. We honor what is honorable!
We cannot obey a parental command that separates us from the love and presence of God. That is true of even of our workplace bosses (who have authority over us) and also our government (which also has authority over us). Romans 8:35a Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Read the context of the answer that spans 4 verses. The obvious answer is that no one nor shall any thing shall separate us from the love of God. However; we can always honor our parents by honoring what is honorable.
Although parents are not mentioned here, they have the authority that is mentioned. 1 Peter 2:13-15 For the Lord’s sake, submit yourselves to every human authority – whether to a king as supreme, or to governors sent by him for the punishment of those who do evil and the praise of those who do good. For this is God’s will, that you silence the ignorance of foolish men by doing good.
In general, a large part of our problems today are centered on this one issue. There is a general lack of respect for authority, in the classroom, on the highway, in the marketplace, and at home. May God guide and direct us into all righteousness.