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The 10 Commandments mini series: 5th Commandment

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Exodus 20:12

"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you."

This commandment connect the first 4 to the last 5. The first four is about loving God and the last 5 is about loving your neigbour as yourself. The 5th commandment is the one that draws them together.

Bestowing honour to others is the fountational principle to obey and enter into Abba’s rest.

The Hebrew word for “honour” is the word “kavod” (כבד ). It means to be heavy, be weighty, be hard, be rich, to be honourable, be glorious, be honoured, to carry a burden.

It’s interesting to take note that the Hebrew word for “glory” is also kavod. Therefore, when we honour our parents, we also give glory to God.

Earlier we said that part of the definition means to carry someone’s burdens. In other words, when we carry someone’s burdens, we actually honour them. Which as a result also brings glory to God.

The way we live our day-to-day lives should bring glory to God.

The way I live should bring glory to God.

The Hebrew language has Hebrew letters - like the ones you have seen in these posts. But it also have paleo letters / pictographs. Which is the letters in pictures. Looking at the pictographs / paleo letters can sometimes add insight to the meaning of a word, but it should never be used as the basis of understanding the word.

When we look at the word “kavod” (honour); we see the following picture forming: An open hand (kaf - “k”) that has a house (bet - “v”) connect (vav - “o”) to open doors (dalet - “d”).

In more simple terms it could read something like this... When we open our hands and houses to those in need - we are the door to connect them with God.

The nail (vav) is the thing that connects us with God, symbolising the nail that Yeshua was crucified with. It connects us to the open Door. Yeshua is the Way, the Truth and the Life!

We can’t get to an open door in life if we don’t have an open hand. The entire Old Testament system & understanding is built upon honouring God through what we do for Him - how we live our lives.

If we don’t understand the full true meaning of honour (kavod) - how would we ever be able to fully turn back to Him? If we don’t understand how important it is to live lives that glorifies Him, how then would we even realise the importance there is on also honouring others through the way we live.

As mentioned earlier, when we honour others, we glorify God!

If it wasn’t for our parents (biological / adoptive), none of us would have been here. God used them to gave birth to & to raise us because He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. It does not mean that parents have to be / will be perfect.

In Matthew 25:40 we read “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

It took me a long while to understand how this commandment applies to people whose parents were not who they were supposed to be for their children. My sister and I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house with imperfect parents but parents who were always going the extra mile and gave it their best raising us. I thought that it was the case for everyone, until my eyes opened up to the brokeness of the world.

Honour is not only bestowed upon people whom we feel deserve it. Yes, of course God deserves our honour and glory. But some of you reading this might not have the best relationship with your parents. Maybe they didn’t fulfill the role that they were supposed to and it makes is hard for you to honour them. My heart breaks for you and I want to remind you that Abba can heal that hurt in your heart as well.

If you have parents / in-laws / grandparents who perhaps were not the best example - we have to stop looking at them as “parents who failed” and start looking at them as people who need the love of God in their lives. It’s a game changer when we start praying for people whom we don’t really feel deserve it. Our prayers can stabilise them and pull them back to God.

Treating our parents with honour does not mean that we have to excuse the things they do which are not in line with God’s Word. It does however mean that we change our approach. We honour them not because they deserve it, but we want to glorify God.

In Ephesians 6:1-3 we read “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

Obeying our parents is in direct relation to them being in the Lord.

Honouring someone is about realising what they have done for you. When you had great parents, it comes easily. When your parents were not so great, it’s a whole different story. Honouring them for what they have done for you - to give you live so that you could fulfil your purpose. It does not mean that you have to like them and have them in your life if the relationship is destructive. It does not even mean that you have to respect them as they might have poor character. Respect and honour are two different things.

The Hebrew word for respect is “sa-a” (שעה). It means to look at, regards, gaze at, behold, to be compassionate, to spare. It might be an unpopular opinion in Christianity, but the 5th commandment does not say “Respect your parents.” It says honour your parents.

God created us with a free will to choose. He knew that not everyone would make good choices and choose LIFE (Him) in all circumstances. He knew that as a result of people’s own choices some would not become the parents He intended for them to be for their children.

God’s heart is never to give children bad parents / parents who do not fulfil their God-given roles. What we also have to realise is that His heart is also not to force people to do anything - therefore we have a free will to choose. Our parents’ choices are not God’s fault nor His choice. Yes, He choose our parents to be ours - but He did not force them to make bad decisions in life or to not deal with generational baggage that pays out on children. The choice belongs to each one of us individually - parent and child.

He KNEW parents would mess up. There’s a reason why He used kavod (honour) in the 5th commandment instead of sa-a (respect).

Respect is about having admiration for a person’s character. We are not instructed to respect bad character / character that’s not in line with Scripture.

So back to Ephesians 6:1-3, which tells us to obey our parents in the Lord. This instruction to obey our parents is in direct relation to our parent’s obedience to Abba.

God will never expect a child to submit under a lifestyle that does not honour Him. God will never expect a child to obey their parents when they don’t obey Him.

We have to read Scripture in context. This verse in Ephesians 6 clearly says that the parents have to be “in the Lord.” In other words, the parents’ lives have to be in line with His Word.

Parents hold the position of “creator” (small letter c) - if it wasn’t for them, you would not have been here. But ultimately we are here for the Creator. Parents are to examplify Him here on earth.

Unfortunately, that’s not the reality in all homes. As a result, many people (including Christians) grow up with a distorted view of Who God is and how His Holy Spirit operates.

God will never expect anyone to be disobedient to Him in order to be obedient to humans.

We can treat people with honour (kavod) eventhough we might not respect (sa-a) their character. When we honour them, we bring glory to God.

Although honour and respect many times go together, it’s not a requirement. When there is respect, it’s easy to honour someone. When there is no respect, honour might not come naturally - because we think they are synonymous. Which they are not. What’s important to realise is that it is still possible to honour someone even when you do not necessarily admire the way they live their lives.

When we honour (kavod) our parents, we live in obedience to the 5th commandment.

Honour, respect and authority comes through reflecting the image of Yeshua.

If we are parents, we have to ask ourselves if we are living in such a way (obedienc to the Word) that it would make it easy for our children to honour and respect us and submit under our authority.

If you are a child (which we all are - despite our age), we have to ask ourselves how we can honour our parents despite their mistakes. We are all human and we all fall short of the glory of God. But living in obedience to His instructions brings glory to Him - and that should be our heart’s desire!

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