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Author:Rev. George van Popta
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Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
Preached At:Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church
 Ancaster, Ontario
Title:Honour mom and dad
Text:LD 39 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic: 5th Commandment (Obedience)

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Singing: Ps. 93; Hy. 7:1,6,9; Ps. 105:3,4; Ps. 105:1; Ps. 111:3,4,5

Reading - Deut 21:18-21; Rom. 13:1-7; Col. 3:18 - 4:1

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ,

There was an article in a newspaper of this past week that caught my eye.

It was titled: "Study aims to salvage image of fatherhood." It went on to say that university researchers hope to debunk the pop-culture image of fathers as incompetent bumblers with the first major national study of male parenting. The goal of the government-funded $1.6-million study is to bring fatherhood out of the shadows. The University of Guelph professor who is heading up the study noted that "... fathers are often treated as buffoons in our public images. TV and advertising play on this idea that fathers are deficient at what they do [for the lives of their children]." The article, quoting the prof, went on to say that societal expectations for fathers are very low and that negative stereotypes about fathers come from TV shows that depict fathers as overgrown children, such as Homer Simpson and Married with Children's Al Bundy, or movies such as Mr. Mom and Daddy Day Care.

It's very interesting that the secular media is starting to say, "Hang on a moment. Today's entertainment culture is giving the wrong message on fatherhood." We don't need a $1.6-million federally funded study to reach that conclusion or to give some suggestions about what to do about it. And yet it is striking that the secular media and a study at a University is critiquing the contemporary view of fatherhood and wanting to promote fathers and fatherhood. This is all very interesting, but a better way to critique fatherhood (and motherhood) is to see what scripture says about it. A better way to promote parenthood is to learn and obey the Biblical teaching about it.

As we take a look at what the Word of God teaches about such matters, we see that God stands behind our parents (and all those in authority over us). God, the ultimate Father, holds all authority. He enters our lives by way of parents, and others, to raise us, to govern us, and to lead us. The fifth commandment speaks about this.

I preach to you under this theme:


1. The Background; 2. The Command; 3. The Promise....of the Fifth Commandment

1. The background of the 5th commandment is that God governs us by the hand of those he puts over us.

Ultimate authority belongs to God alone.  To God the Creator and Redeemer of life. God is the absolute and final authority with respect to all things: Nature, history, faith and morals.

After the LORD God had shown his sovereignty over nature and history by bringing his people Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground and had drowned Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and all his host in the midst of the Red Sea, then Moses and the Israelites sang a song that praised God as the One who has authority over people's lives and over all of creation. They ended the song (Ex. 15) with the triumphant words: The LORD will reign for ever and ever.

Many of the Psalms describe God as the great, ultimate, and final authority over all things. Psalm 93 says: The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; ... and is armed with strength. ... Your statutes stand firm ... for endless days, O LORD.

The Lord Jesus told us not to fear those who can kill the body and after that can do no more. Rather, said he, we ought to fear him who, after the killing of the body, has authority to throw a person into hell. And then he was talking about God the Father.

One of the apostolic letters of the NT, the letter of Jude, ends with these words: ... to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!

We can also think of the book of Revelation which shows so powerfully the authority God has over all the peoples of the earth, over all of nature, and over all of history.

There's no doubt about it. God holds all authority in his hand. But, in our day to day lives, he does not exercise his authority over us directly. Rather, he governs us by the hand of parents, elders, magistrates, etc.

The first persons in authority you came across in your life were your parents. Your mom and your dad. God gave them the task, the responsibility to raise you, to teach you, to discipline you. If you rebel against your parents, you are rebelling against God.

The OT law in Israel was pretty strict about this. Deut 21:18ff says that if a son would not listen to his parents, was a drunkard and leading an immoral life, then they were to bring their son to the elders of the community. If the elders agreed, the men of he town were to stone him to death. The evil and rebellion against parents (ultimately, against God) was to be purged out of Israel. And it stood as a warning to the rest of Israel.

Quite strict. Disobedience to parents, rebellion against parents, was a capital offence in the time of the old covenant. Stoning to death was the way someone was excommunicated in the OT. In the NT, excommunication no longer has these physical aspects to it. We no longer stone people to death to excommunicate them. But what we learn from this passage out of Deut. 21 is how serious disobedience and rebellion is. If a young man lives in a constant state of rebellion against his parents, does not listen to them, is a substance abuser and leads a sinful shameful life-if he will not repent and listen to his parents, he should be excommunicated. Put outside the congregation of God's people. Outside the kingdom of God. Because rebellion against parents is rebellion against God.

Children, young people: You need to realize that. When you obey your parents, you are obeying God. When you disobey your parents, you disobey God. If you live in a continual state of disobedience against your parents, you make yourself worthy of church discipline and excommunication. To purge evil out of the church and to stand as a warning to us all to obey God.

That brings us right into the next thought. He also approaches us through the church. The Lord Jesus Christ has vested authority in the church. Authority, first of all, to preach the gospel. The church is Christ's preaching agency. The church must, in the name of Christ, authoritatively preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and call all listeners to repentance, faith and obedience. 

The church also has authority to discipline the members Christ has put under its care. To admonish, to call to repentance, to excommunicate the unrepentant, and to restore the repentant.

We could talk about other relationships where God governs us by those he sets over us. The employer/employee relationship. The teacher/student relationship: Children, you must honour and obey your teachers too. The 5th commandment requires that.

But let us just speak yet about the state, the government. In Romans 13, Paul taught that the government authorities have been appointed by God. Paul even calls the government "God's servant." God has ordained kings and civil officers whom he calls to govern by laws and policies so that the sinfulness  of man be restrained and things be conducted in our country in good order. God even gives them the sword to punish the evildoer.

Typically, governments do not acknowledge that they have their authority from God. In our country, called a democracy, the governments of course think they have their mandate from the people-the people who elected them. That is only partially true. The full truth is that God mandates them. God uses the election to bring them into power, but he gives them the authority they have. Governments ought to realize that. We need to realize that to.

Recently we got a new government in Ontario - a new premier. We are allowed to be happy or unhappy with a new government and premier, but happy or unhappy, we need to honour the government and the premier. We may think that a certain law is unjust, and yet the Bible demands that we honour the government and the premier. We can express our opinion; we can vote one way or another way; but we must honour them. As Peter wrote (1 Pet 2:17) Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

The authority and power they have, they have from God. And those who resist the governing authorities resist God. That stands behind the 5th commandment: God governs us by the hand of those he puts over us. And if you reject the authority of parents, office-bearer in the church, teacher, civil government, then you are rebelling against God.

2. The specific command of the 5th commandment.

And then I mean as the 5th commandment is obeyed in the home. The home is basic. How people conduct themselves in the home largely determines how they conduct themselves in the congregation, the school, the country.

Although the commandment covers many relationships (as we've seen), it is directed specifically to children. "Honour your father and your mother." Col.: "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." When a child is very small, he honours and loves his mom and dad. You can hardly get him away from his parents. He clings to them because he feels safe in their arms.

But it's not long before the "terrible twos" kick in. And as he gets older, notions of rebellion might come to the fore.  Sometimes things get out of hand in the home. Sometimes it is the fault of the parents. There is abuse of authority, of power: Children become bitter and discouraged (Paul warns fathers not to embitter their children). We praise and thank God that there is healing possible even in those painful situations. Healing comes when there is  repentance. And where there is repentance, forgiveness can be offered. Yes, thank God for that. For the healing effect of the Word and Spirit of God that flows over our households-even over broken situations. Praise God when conflicts between parents and children is resolved. When hurts are healed.

But let's understand that the 5th commandment is meant to prevent such situations. I mean, of course, the 5th commandment properly applied.

Not a caricature of it. 

Children, obey your parents. Parents, give your children good instruction and discipline (biblical). That's the very specific application of the 5th commandment. And then there will be a Christian home. The home is not a democracy. The parents govern the home. They must set the tone, the rules, and control the culture.

If you run your household as if it were a democracy where you hold as self-evident the notion that all the members of the household are equal, you've lost the battle. Your home will just become a place where a group of people sort of live together, who come and go at their own good pleasure. That's not a Christian home.

I said that the parents govern the home and the children. And of course, if things are good, mom and dad will do this as a team, working together with lots of mutual consultation, never working against each other, never contradicting each other. Never allowing the children to play one off against the other. That may be hard, but that needs to be our goal. Working together.

And yet, even then, the father, the husband, is the head of the household. Paul said: Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Many listen to that with horror (or scorn). Whoever heard of that, that wives must submit to their husbands? Some even say that Paul must have hated women to say this. Or they dispense with it by saying: Well, it's almost 2000 years ago that Paul wrote this; we need to understand that Paul was writing within a patriarchal society; times have changed and it doesn't apply anymore; we live in much more democratic times.

If we talk that way, we've closed the Bible, beloved.  Let us hold to the complete word of God. The God who said: Children, obey your parents; also said: Wives, submit to your husbands.

But then the husbands need to open their ears and hear that in the very same breath, Paul said: Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Love them. Be kind and gentle to your wife. Sympathetic and understanding. Tender. Then things will be good. If wives submit to their husbands,  and husbands love and treat tenderly their wives; if children obey their parents, and fathers do not embitter and discourage their children; then things will be good. Let us strive to live in our families in such a way. And where we are lacking, let us go to the Lord for strength to make improvement.

If our homes are governed in this way by the Word and Spirit of God, then our homes will be a rich source of blessing to the congregation and the country. We will be raising good citizens for the kingdom of God and the dominion of Canada.

3. For a great promise is attached to this commandment:

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

God said to his people Israel as he was bringing them into the Promised Land: If you obey your parents, if you submit to their good instruction and discipline, you will live long in this land. Because, when you obey them, you obey me. But if you reject the instruction and discipline of your parents, if you reject the teaching which they received from their parents and are now handing down to you - if you reject that, your days will be short in this land - in the land that I give you.  I will drive you out of the blessed land of life back into slavery.

The Promised Land was the reality and true expression of Israel's freedom. God took them from slavery in Egypt and brought them into a free land to live. To live long and raise their families. If they turned their back on the divine instruction and discipline which they received from their parents, then God would drive them out. We know from the OT that it happened. The people ended up in exile in Babylon.

Proverbs 4 connects obeying your parents with long life. 10 -- Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. 13 -- Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. A great promise attached to the 5th commandment. Obedience leads to freedom and to life. Disobedience leads to slavery and death. In Proverbs, we read about those who let go of the good instruction and discipline of their parents, who reject it and scoff at it. Who end up straying south of the stupid line. 4:19 says that the way of these people is like deep darkness. They end up groping around in the darkness of sin. They stumble and fall flat on their face. They are too foolish even to realize over what they have stumbled.

You can see it in the lives of some people. In the lives of people who have rejected their parents good instruction and discipline Their parents warned them about reckless and godless living. They rejected that. Their lives are a downward spiral of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual sin, disease, and often death.

Rejecting the biblical instruction of your parents can lead to early death in this life already. Doesn't always, but it can. But there is no doubt that it leads to spiritual and eternal death. Those who reject the good instruction and discipline of godly parents in this life will not receive a place in the eternal Promised Land which the LORD our God will give to us. When they rejected their parents they rejected the God whose will it was to govern them by the hand of their parents.

Accept the good instruction and discipline of your parents. Receive it. Submit to it with due obedience. When you do that, when you accept the good, biblical, Christian, discipline and instruction of your parents, you are accepting God.

And parents, for this promised blessing to unfold in the lives of your children, you need to give that good instruction and discipline. Teach your children; guide them; discipline them in love. And then our families will be a blessing to church and country. The devil knows that, and so he is attacking our families. Broader yet: He is attacking "the family." In many ways.

A recent and blatant example of how Satan is attacking the family is the movement to allow homosexual marriage. It's a monstrosity. Satan, hard at work. Seeking to destroy the family. If he destroys the families he's got the country.

Let us keep our wits about ourselves. The homosexual agenda which seems to find some space in the media every day is trying to wear down our  defences against the biblical idea of what a family is. (I'm told that almost every TV show has its gay-guy in it.) The entertainment industry, the sit-coms, which are so often saturated with subtle scorn against the Biblical view of the Christian family has its effect on us as well. The TV shows and movies that are attacking and belittling fatherhood. Why on earth are we watching that garbage?

Yes, let's keep our wits about ourselves. Let's take an antithetical stand against the ungodly philosophies, world-views and trends that attack the family. Lest we are sucked in by it, destroyed, and we and our children -- through our own fault -- miss out on the blessing promised in and attached to the 5th commandment.

Let us ensure that our families are strong. Parents, fulfil your God-given roles in raising your children. Children, submit yourselves to the good instruction and discipline of your parents. Realize, children, that God stands behind your parents. Only then can we expect God's blessing. Our families will be blessed and they will be a blessing, to others and to ourselves. Together we will be walking the good path. The path of life.


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2003, Rev. George van Popta

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