We’ve heard the story of Moses going up to the mountain many times. How he met with God, and how God inscribed His commandments on stone tablets, revealing to His people how they have been created to live, and in a way that honors the God that made them.
The story I began with in Part 1 gives us important insight into God giving us these 10 commandments. These commandments, and even the entire law given to Moses, were not simply God giving a list of rules for his people to follow. He was revealing to them how to live a transformed life. Teaching them the patterns the people of God were created to follow, and showing them His own Nature through it all. It wasn’t simply about following these laws!
We hear Jesus saying in Matthew 5:17, that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. The purpose of the law was to teach God’s people how they were to live in response to Him, and was pointing to a time when God’s people would be able to live as truly transformed beings, carrying the image of the Nature of God, bringing healing to all humanity and creation!
This is very similar to what God was up to in Genesis 17. With Abraham receiving God’s covenant – it wasn’t just a blessing meant for he and his family forever. It was a covenant meant to reach out and bring God’s healing and “newness” to all of the brokenness that sin had brought about!
Each of these commandments contains so much wealth for our daily lives, and points us to a life transformed by the Spirit of Jesus Christ. But to keep our focus on “Covenant”, we’re going to focus on one commandment in particular.
In Ephesians 6:2, Paul writes “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise– “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on earth.”
The word Paul uses in this verse for “promise”, is the word for “Covenant”. He’s saying this commandment in particular points to the “big picture” covenant God was making with humanity. This reminds us that one of the best ways to read the Old Testament is to realize that when God is speaking or acting, it is often in a way that points to the future work of God in Jesus Christ.
Let’s face it, we’ve all heard these words a thousand times, “Honor your father and your mother.” It seems the time in our lives we most often here it, are between the ages of 6 and 18. It’s often used as a God-given tool by parents who want their kids to do what they say, or show them respect. I’ll confess to you this morning, even I – the perfect teenage son – heard it a few times from my mother.
But it’s meaning takes on new form, when we recognize that when Moses came down the mountain, he didn’t start teaching a VBS lesson to the children of Israel. He came and spoke to the crowd, many of which were full grown adults. It comes as very practical advice, and possibly connected to commandment number four just before it, “Honor the Sabbath”. God is calling all of us, not simply the children, to honor those who have reached the Sabbath of their lives. To honor our parents, and care for them, as people who place that as important above the immediate success and needs of our own daily busy schedules. Anyone who has taken care of an elderly parent knows the sort of self-sacrifice, and serving someone who cannot offer you much in return takes. But this is how the family was designed to work, and this is how the family of God was designed to point to a healed New Creation in the midst of a world focused mostly on self-serving happiness.
It seems natural, that if our children see us caring for our parents as they are growing older – by the time we reach the Sabbath of our lives, our own kids will have a good model of what’s to be done to follow in the footsteps of.
But this isn’t simply about health care, it’s about honor and value. The word here literally means “to make heavy”. God is telling His people, to value the generations that have come before you. This is a message very needed in our day, just as much as it was needed back then. The covenant God is making with all of humanity is something that is passed down, from generation to generation. It is shared, and lasting forever. It’s a “Family of God” type covenant, “making heavy” every generation, not just the ones who are able to fight for a voice. God’s reminder to the people of Israel, and to us, is that we would turn our eyes and ears to the generations who have received that covenant before us, and are passing it down through us. Listen to them, learn from them. Hear their stories, and walk together with them into what God has promised all of us.
But it also means something very important to the fathers and mothers. We’ll explore that a bit more in “Part 3” tomorrow…