Commandment #5 – Honour your parents

Opening Question

What’s the best thing you have learned from your parents?

Exodus 20:12

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

In the beginning (5 mins)

What can we say about family from the first pages of the bible?

Genesis 1:26-28; 2:23-24; 3:20; 4:1-2,25-26

We see God’s design for husband and wife to procreate and another family to be formed. Being God’s design is the key. Note that Gen 4:25-26 describes a new generation who are being taught to call on the Lord. The next generation must hear and respond to the gospel!

Also Genesis 17:1-9

Abraham means something like ‘father of many’ and Verse 9 declares that he and his descendants are to keep this covenant so that they will be blessed in the land and they will be God’s people.

The command to Israel (5 mins)

What are the points that come from Exodus 20:12 and how does our tour of Genesis show the importance of this command?

  1. Respect and appreciate your parents
  2. Because of the covenant between God and Abraham and Israel.
  3. Parents are given the duty to teach their children about this covenant and pass on to them the need to remain faithful to the LORD. Children need to give ear to their parents and not abandon the covenant. This is the ordered way since creation.

Israel’s history (10 mins)

Read Deuteronomy Chapter 6.

  1. What is the responsibility of the parents?
  2. What is the expectation of the children?
  3. What clues do we see in this chapter that tell us that Israel did not keep this commandment well?

The Gospel (10 mins)

What difference has Jesus made to our understanding of this command?

  • Matthew 10:34-39 (see also 19:27-30)
    • Israel was a nation under the Old Covenant that tied them to family and to the land. Jesus is not interested in breaking up families but he desires us to choose the kingdom over family. His teaching is with regard to children needing to opt into the kingdom of God despite the teaching of their parents. The order is not rebellion but a covenant that is no longer dependent on parents to teach the children. Literally, children in the first century will leave their Jewish faith and put their trust in Christ.
  • Matthew 12:46-50
    • The family of God transcends blood relations. We will learn of the covenant with Christ in the church.
  • Matthew 15:1-9
    • Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for dodging the 5th commandment with some loopwhol of higher loyalty to God. It is difficult to reconcile his rebuke here with the earlier passages in Matthew. But both the old covenant and the new share this: loving God and neighbour – God desires mercy rather than sacrifice. Honouring the 5th commandment is about living in submission to God – to love relationships under God. 
  • Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21
    • The 5th commandment is not overturned by the gospel. Parents ought to do better in the family because of the gospel.

Christian Living (15 mins)

The 5th commandment remains a created ordinance and the nurture of children is best found inside the family unit. A family who raises children to know and love the Lord is a blessed family (not to be confused with happy and perfect!) Anybody who finds the Lord ought to find a family in the church. No matter what your circumstance, we are all called to love the Lord with all our heart and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Parents are a gift and even under the curse we can learn something from them.

If you are running out of time, you may need to discuss how this teaching affects each other and pray for one another. Support for Fathers and Mothers; prayer for those who still have parents; prayer to forgive others and to repent ourselves.

If you have more time – or for homework…

The following verses share Paul’s response to the gospel and the blessing of his own mothers.

  • Galatians 1:13-20 (he was called from his mother’s womb and left the tradition of his parents to follow the true gospel of the Lord)
  • Romans 16:13 (Paul mentions a spiritual mother)
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:6-8 (Paul remembers that sharing the gospel went further than knowledge but came with love like a mother to children).
  • 2 Timothy 1:3-5 (generational faith is seen in the family of Timothy)

Commandment #4- Remember the Sabbath

Opening Question

What image comes to you when you think of rest? (what does ‘rest’ mean for you?)

Exodus 20:8-11

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Notes: the word ‘sabbath’ means ‘to cease’ or ‘to desist’.

In the beginning (5 mins)

What does the 7th day after creation teach us? Read Exodus 20:11 and Genesis 1:31-2:3.

  1. The six days account for the whole process of creation from beginning to end. That is, after six days, it is all finished and therefore God rests (literally ‘ceased’) from his labour. He declared it to be very good and then he rested. The work was done. And God did it all!
  2. There was no evening on the seventh day. Thus, no eighth day nor a second week to continue anything unfinished. This rest points to a completed work and that is what makes it significant. It’s not the length of the week that is significant but the promise of completion and the glory in God’s work.

The command to Israel (5 mins)

Read the rest of the command (Exodus 20:8-10). What was Israel instructed to do (or not do)? What does it teach them?

See also, Exodus 16:23; 23:12 31:13-16; Lev 19:30; Numbers 28:9; Isaiah 56:2, 58:13-14; Ezek 20:12,20

The Sabbath was a gift for Israel and all who lived within Israel’s society. A reminder that God had redeemed them, they are his. God made them holy. It is a reverent day. A special day. A holiday. It is a day of blessing because of their relationship with Yahweh.

Essentially, it functioned like the earlier covenant sign of circumcision. Anyone failing to observe the Sabbath showed their disdain for the special relationship established between the LORD and Israel – that God has blessed them and made the holy.

Israel’s history (10 mins)

Lookup these verses and describe how Israel performed under this command.

  • Exodus 16 (the chapter is long and can be summarised reading verses, 2-5, 15-31, NB verse 29); see also Jeremiah 17:21-27; Ezek 20:12-13; 22:8
  • Luke 13:14

The Gospel (10 mins)

How did Jesus regard this law?

  • Matthew 11:28-32 – Is the Sabbath meant to be treated as a burden?
  • Matthew 12:1-13 – What does Jesus mean in verse 7 and 8? Are we to think of the Sabbath day as a sacrifice (a legal requirement to offer to God?) Is the Sabbath a blessing or a rule? What’s the difference? How did Jesus justify the disciples eating the grain?
  • Mark 2:23-27 (parallel story to Matthew). What does Jesus mean in Verse 27?

Christian Living (15 mins)

With the resurrection of Jesus, and sins paid for, a Christian church known as the holy people of God, the sabbath rest transformed from the shadow of what was to come into the reality of life in Christ.

  • Hebrews 4:1-11 – what is the rest that Hebrews refers to? How was the 4th Commandment pointing to this? The Sabbath rest is about faith in God and knowing that He provides both physically and spiritually. We must not be driven to keep working as if we have no provision from God. Jesus gives us permanent rest in his covenant. Our greatest work is to enter the rest before it is too late! Ie, be saved!
  • Colossians 2:16-17 – What is the Sabbath day described as? It is a shadow and the reality is in Christ.
  • How do we keep the Sabbath today? 
    • We trust in the LORD – every day.
    • Live in the new life that we found in Christ – he has made us holy and sanctifies us every day (Romans 6:8-14). We live under grace.
    • Accept the gift of physical rest – knowing that God is bigger than our daily problems. See Psalm 46 (esp v10); Psalm 4:8.
    • Pray with thanksgiving for all of our needs – “Give us today our daily bread.”
    • Assemble with Christians (the church) for good order. We assemble for encouragement and fellowship – to hear God’s word and reset (Acts 2:42). We could do this every day but that is simply impractical and unnecessary!
    • We have observed Sunday as the day for church (not necessarily the Sabbath) because we are no longer under ritual but we are under good order (1 Corinthians 14:40) and meeting regularly (Hebrews 10:25). The Christian Sunday is not an equal to the Sabbath because we have found our rest in Christ every day but we have celebrated Sunday because it is the day that he rose from the dead and brought life to us.