Honour your Father & your Mother
by Steven Chan
Moses was the leader chosen by God to lead the people of God out of Egyptian bondage. His role as God’s servant was significant as it was through Moses that God gave the Words of the Covenant, namely the Ten Commandments (Exod 34:28). In fact, when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, besides the prophet Elijah, Moses appeared alongside Jesus (Matt 17). In remembering Moses, one should not forget the role of his mother. The Bible records for us in Ex 1:12 that the children of Israel who lived in Egypt (having been invited there by Joseph and the Pharaoh) grew and multiplied greatly so much so that the Egyptians were in dread of them, and the new Pharaoh who did not know Joseph (Ex 1:8) then commanded in Ex 1:22 that “every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.”
It was during that terrible time that Moses was born and the Bible tells us that the mother of Moses “hid him for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank. And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him.”(Ex 2:1-4) Her love for her child was so great that she chose to disobey the edict of the Pharaoh. Moses was not abandoned as his sister was watching nearby to see what would happen to him. As it turned out, the daughter of Pharaoh came by and saw the lovely baby and adopted him as her own – and the mother of Moses was able to nurse him because the sister of Moses “said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the maiden went and called the child’s mother. Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses, saying, “Because I drew him out of the water.” (Ex 2:7-10)
The mother’s love for Moses was a great blessing to the nation of Israel, the people of God. In Heb 11:23-29, the Bible tells us that it was by faith that Moses was kept alive by his parents. It was referring to the faith exercised by the parents of Moses when they chose not to be afraid of the Pharaoh’s command and kept him alive for three months. The great story of Moses would not have occurred if his mother and father did not exercise faith in God by doing the right thing for their newborn son. It is not likely that his parents could have foreseen the important role of Moses in the deliverance of the nation of Israel. But they walked by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7).
We should never underestimate the role of parents in bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4). Isn’t it interesting that the fourth commandment in the Ten Commandments as delivered through Moses, states as follows?
“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”(Deut 5:16).
Although the Words of the Ten Commandments were given by the Lord, it does not in any way, take away the fact that Moses deeply appreciated what his parents had done for him, and he knew the importance of honouring father and mother. It was because his parents exercised their faith in God that Moses became the pivotal leader of his time. Do we realize that who we are is due to what our parents had done for us?
That’s why the Bible commands as follows:-
1. “Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father” (Lev 19:3);
2. “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.” (Lev 19:32)
3. “Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.”(Deut 27:16)
4. “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” (Prov 23:22)
King Solomon demonstrated his great respect for his mother, Bathsheba, as follows:-
“Bathsheba therefore went to King Solomon, to speak to him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her and bowed down to her, and sat down on his throne and had a throne set for the king’s mother; so she sat at his right hand.” (1 Kings 2:19-20)
Even though he was king, he “rose up to meet her and bowed down to her” and also set a throne for her at his right hand” What a tremendous show of respect for his mother!
But the Bible also warns against the failure to show proper honour to our father and mother. God said that the respect that we ought to show to our parents, we ought also to show to Him as He is the father of us all:-
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence? says the LORD of hosts. To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’ 7 “You offer defiled food on My altar. But say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible.’ 8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the LORD of hosts.” (Mal 1:6-8)
It is not just what we do for our father and mother but HOW and WHAT we do for them. Do we give them the leftovers of our time, money and resources?
In Matt 15:3-7, Jesus pointed out the failure of the Pharisees in showing proper respect to their fathers and mothers:-
“He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”– 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites!”
The religious leaders of the day tried to reason themselves out of their obligation to honour their parents. They were finding excuses not to give due honour to their parents. Jesus called them “hypocrites”!
The fourth commandment of the Ten Commandments was emphasized in Eph 6:1-3:-
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
In his letter to the young preacher Timothy who himself had also experienced the great faith shared by his mother and grandmother: “when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also”( 2 Tim 1:5), the apostle Paul wrote thus:-
1. “children or grandchildren should first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God” (I Tim 5:4) and he concluded thus:
2. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”(1Tim 5:8).
We ought to honour our fathers and mothers at all times – and not only on so-called mother’s day or father’s day! May we glorify God by showing proper respect and honour to our fathers and mothers – “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” – and when this life is over, a much place better awaits us (John 14:1-6).
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