Friday, June 03, 2022

2022.06.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:12

Read Exodus 20:12

Questions from the Scripture text: What one-word command begins Exodus 20:12? Whom does it command to honor? That what may be long? Where? Who was giving it to them? What was His covenant relation to them? 

What are we to do with authority and why?  Exodus 20:12 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord starts us out with the best of authorities, so that we will learn to honor authorities as part of His means of bringing us into the blessings that He has promised us. 

There is no authority except that it comes from God (cf. Romans 13:1). Sometimes, this is harder to see than others, so the Lord has designed to give us a good start in honoring and obeying authority. The first authorities He gives us to deal with are father and mother. Those from whose flesh we have come, and who by natural affection would sacrifice themselves for us. Sadly, there are those parents who lack natural affection for their children and thus do violence to this commandment. And there are parents who lack wisdom to see the needfulness of the authority over their children and thus deprive them of the designed benefits.

Just as with the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 10th commandments, the 5th focuses especially upon the heart. The Lord Jesus would plainly teach that all of God’s law was to be obeyed first and foremost from the heart. Indeed, all of Scripture teaches that. And here it is important to see that this is much more than a commandment to obey. It is a commandment to honor. To treat father and mother as weighty. Worthy of respect. It’s the word that is even most commonly used to convey the idea of “glory.” 

When parents and children fulfill their God-given roles, they enjoy a provision that helps turn our hearts to the Lord from the youngest age. And when the church and society are full of such life-long-trained appreciators of authority, then those who come into other seats of authority do so with fatherly affection and service unto those entrusted to their care.

When sin is resisted so that abuse of authority is restrained and the heeding of this good authority is maintained with respect and affection, the result in the state or church is the benefit of all. 

The LORD had given them to have Him as their covenant God.

The LORD was giving them the land to which they were coming.

And the LORD had given them authority structure, beginning in the household, beginning from birth, by which to prosper them in that land

Resisting authority and abusing authority were two core components of the curse upon fallen humanity (cf. Genesis 3:16). Now the Lord assures His people that part of His gracious covenant with them was that as they depended upon Him to conform their hearts to His law, He would bless the keeping of that law unto their good in home, church, and state. If we hope to see His blessing upon us, we must recognize that resistance to authority is ingrained in the fleshliness of the old man, and watch against it by fostering not only obedience but grace-sustained honor.

What authorities do you have the most difficulty honoring? What would honoring them more look like? What authority roles, if any, do you have? In them, how are you aiming at the good of those under you?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for taking us to Yourself as Your very own people, and for promising to give us every good thing along with You. Forgive us when we forget that You are behind every authority. Many of them are evil, but they are not a terror to us, since You rule and overrule them for our good. Help us to honor them as lesser authorities under You, so that all our obedience comes from obeying You, and all our disobedience to them also comes from obeying You. So, give us grace to maintain humble spirits, wisdom to discern, and integrity to live consistently, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP118D “Now Open Wide the Gates” or TPH153 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”

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