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September 24 - LD 39, Day 1: Father and Mother and All in Authority

Monday the 24th of September

in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations

Exodus 20:12: Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

As we continue our study of the Ten Commandments as the rule of our life of gratitude to God, we enter now the second table of the law and those commandments which treat specifically our relationship to our neighbor. The law begins with our closest neighbor and those relationships that develop from that nearest bond, that of the family. So we are told, “Honour thy father and thy mother.” The fifth commandment, therefore, calls our attention to the significance of authority, and the requirement of honour and due obedience.

As the Heidelberg Catechism points out, the truth set forth in the fifth commandment is not only a matter of how children must behave themselves toward their parents, but also how we must act with respect to all who are placed in positions of authority over us. That becomes very clear when you put the law in the light of the whole Bible, and as Scripture interprets itself.

The fifth commandment only mentions father and mother because the family is the cell, from which all the other relationships of life where authority is exercised grow. When that is understood, we see how the light of God’s Word in the fifth commandment shines not only upon family life, but upon the school, the church, the state and the work place. As we approach the law from our peculiar perspective of the redeemed in Christ and find here a guide for our life, we see how God’s Word directs us to live before every figure of authority.

The application of this commandment is powerfully revealed in our day against the background of an appalling rejection of authority in every sphere of life. The day of the Lord draws near. For we are told by the apostle in II Tim. 3 that a rejection of and defiance toward authority would mark the perilous times of the last days. And Paul wrote not only of the sins of the world, but of those who have “a form of godliness.” As we stand before the fifth commandment, therefore, let us hear what Scripture has to say about honouring those in authority.


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