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G-MM™: Meditation Moment - 150321

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Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.


Proverbs 20:3

It is honorable for a man to stop striving,
Since any fool can start a quarrel.


Exodus 20:12
The Fifth Commandment

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


Notes on the Scripture

What Importance Do the Commandment of Exodus 20 Have?

The first four of the ten commandments address the relationship between God and man; the remaining six (beginning with today’s) address the relationship of people to one another. This division underlies Christ’s famous summary of the Law into two great commandments, e.g. Matthew 22:37-40.

The fifth commandment (like the fourth, keeping the Sabbath holy) raises an important issue: As important as Exodus 20 is for understanding God’s will, it is neither complete nor fully original and is, really, a sort of Cliff’s Notes version of God’s law given to the Hebrews.

The first, second and fourth commandments were certainly given to the Hebrews before the ten commandments were engraven at Mt. Sinai. See e.g. Exodus 16:22-30. More importantly, their already exist “commandments”, equal in importance to these ten. For example, while they were in Egypt, God gave the Hebrews a strict set of rules requiring the observance of Passover. If it occurs to you that they are not as important as these ten, just consider: a person who eats leavened bread at Passover must be thrown out of the congregation of Israel. Exodus 12:19

More a propos of today’s passage, at several prior points God has imposed obligations on parents to instruct their children. E.g. Exodus 12:24-27. Instruction and discipline of children is probably a more fundamental duty than any of the last six “commandments”, for the continuation of the covenant would depend upon it.

When we think about such issues as “what were the laws of Moses” and “what obligation do they place upon Christians today”, turning to the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 is a cop-out. Too much emphasis on them means that we have not read the Bible. People like them, though, because they aren’t “Jewish” sounding. We want to put them in a nice clean category, “rules that still apply after the coming of Christ”, as opposed to, say, laws detailing the burning of goat carcasses as a sacrifice.

Reading and studying the actual text of Exodus will give us a much more accurate and deeper understanding of Old Testament law and its application to modern Christians.


That Your Days May Be Long

The gloss at the end of the commandment, “that you days may be long upon the land . . “, might or might not be intended to be tied to the specific commandment. “Your days” does not refer to an individual’s lifespan, but rather, to Israel’s occupation of the promised land under the protection of Yahweh. By inference, a child who honors his parents will learn and follow the precepts of a monotheistic and God-centered life; he will inherit the knowledge needed to please God and, under his parents’ watchful eyes, learn to behave correctly in the eyes of God.

As a general principle of Biblical interpretation, however, the first mention of a principle informs what is to follow. As J. Edwin Hartell puts it in Principles of Bible Hermeneutics(Zondervan, 1947): “The first time a thing is mentioned in Scripture it carries with it a meaning that will be carried all through the Word of God.“ There is, we must remember, only one speaker in the Bible, although there are many mouths.

Which put more plainly, means that the reward of living long in the Promised Land applies to all of God’s commandments, not only to the obligation of honoring one’s mother and father. There lies a critical message, not only for a struggling, scruffy Semitic tribe over 3000 years ago , but also for us today. If a society is to prosper, it needs to pay close attention to God’s moral law.

--> Saturday, March 21, 2015
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