IBL05: Fifth Commandment (Craig Press)

Promise of Life

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:01 Deuteronomy 5:16 and Deuteronomy 22 verses six and seven. The promise of life. Deuteronomy 5:16 and Deuteronomy 22 verses six and seven. First of all, Deuteronomy 5:16. “Honor thy father and thy mother as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. That thy days may be prolonged and that it may go well with thee in the land which they Lord thy God giveth thee.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:50 And Deuteronomy 22 verses six and seven. “If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree or on the ground, whether they be young ones or eggs and the dam sitting upon the young or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam or the young. That thou shall in any wise let the dam go and take the young to thee, that it may be well with thee that thou mayest prolong thy days.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:31 The fifth commandment, honor thy father and thy mother, carries a very significant pledge to all the obedient, the promise of life. This commandment is a central one as we have seen previously. And yet today perhaps one of the least regarded of all commandments. Certainly when we go to the modern church, we find no help with respect to this commandment.

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:11 Perhaps the most important modern commentary on the law says concerning the meaning of honoring one father and mother that, and I quote, “They are not to be sent abroad to be eaten of beasts or to die of exposure as was the case in some societies.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:42 Fantastic as it may seem, this is the cream of the interpretation in modernist commentaries. You’re honoring your father and mother if you don’t send them out to die. If you don’t expose them to the wild beasts.

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:59 Now first of all this is a degenerate bit of commentary not only morally but academically. There was no such exposure in Middle Eastern society. You have to go up the Eskimos, a particularly decadent culture to find anything comparable to it.

R.J. Rushdoony: 03:23 They were really reaching for something fantastic in the way of interpretation to so render the word honor. The requirement here in the fifth commandment is first of all a religious honoring of one’s parents.

R.J. Rushdoony: 03:44 Second, a general respect for one’s elders. For example, Leviticus 19:32 says, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head,” that is the white hair, “and honor the face of the old man and fear thy God. I am the Lord.” Proverbs 16:31 reads, “The hoary head is a crown of glory if it be found in the way of righteousness.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 04:16 Respect is due to one’s elders in any case. But righteousness as a crown of glory. Age commanded religious respect in biblical society. Paul could appeal to the fact of his age for example to slay Philemon when he wrote, “Yet for love sake I rather beseech thee being such and one as Paul the aged now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.” And writing to Titus in Titus two verse two and three, Paul counseled that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith and charity and patience.

R.J. Rushdoony: 05:11 The aged women likewise that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers nor given to much wine, teachers of good things. Paul emphasized this because he stressed the fact of the authority of age, and therefore it was double incumbent upon those who are older who establish the highest kind of example of discipline, of self restraint, as well as of wisdom.

R.J. Rushdoony: 05:53 There are certain general principles inherent in this law. First of all to honor parents and to honor all those who are older than ourselves is a necessary aspect of the basic law of inheritance. Next week we shall deal at greater lengths with the laws of inheritance as they relate to the fifth commandment, honor thy father and thy mother. But for the present, we must state that honor to our parents and to all who are older than ourselves is a necessary aspect of the basic law of inheritance.

R.J. Rushdoony: 06:41 What we inherit from our parents is life itself. Beyond life, the wisdom, the faith, and the experience which they transmit to us. The continuity, the progress of history rests in this honor of those who are our parents and older than ourselves and in the inheritance they give to us.

R.J. Rushdoony: 07:15 A revolutionary age always begins by attacking this commandment. A revolutionary generation turns on its parents with venom and animosity. It disinherits itself deliberately. It says in effect, “We want nothing from you.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 07:39 It proceeds thereby to despise everything that the older generation has unless perchance it be there money. But it constitutes on act of disinheritance. To respect our elders than is to respect all that is good in our cultural and personal inheritance. The world of course is not perfect. Nor is it even entirely or nearly law abiding. But although each of us comes into this world naked, we do not enter an empty world.

R.J. Rushdoony: 08:34 We enter a world in which there are trees planted and bearing fruit, in which there are paved roads and homes, stores, and a wealth of manufactured goods. These things we did not create. We inherited them when we were born, born naked but not into an empty world.

R.J. Rushdoony: 08:58 And we are required to honor the older generation always. All those who are elder than ourselves, older than ourselves because we have inherited a rich earth from them. We have inherited a past which they have transmitted to us. Therefore, we must honor them and honor that which they have transmitted.

R.J. Rushdoony: 09:36 Our parents especially who provide for us and nurture us are to be honored above all others. And if we do not so honor them, we stand against both God and ourselves and we disinherit ourselves in the sight of God.

R.J. Rushdoony: 09:59 There is a very close connection as you can see between honoring one’s parents and the laws of inheritance. We shall deal with that next week. The tragic fact however today is that many parents refuse to recognize that their children have disinherited themselves deliberately, have denied everything that their parents are, expect the money.

R.J. Rushdoony: 10:31 A second general principle inherit in the fifth commandment is that progress is always rooted in the past and that inheritance in this broad sense is the foundation for progress. The truest and the central inheritance is this broader inheritance of life, of the world around us with all the progress that the previous generations have made possible, of the culture, of the faith, of the standards, of the discipline which the older generation transmits to us.

R.J. Rushdoony: 11:31 True progress therefore is always rooted in this cultural inheritance. Speaking to adults, the commandment calls for honor, not obedience. But for children under age, the requirement is obedience as Saint Paul said in Ephesians 6:1, “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Again in Colossians 3:20, “Children obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 12:18 Now the physical commandment is not to be confused with ancestor worship. Ancestor worship as in China is a culture in a place in which the past controls the future totally, in which no progress is possible. The stagnation of China for countless centuries was due to two things. On the one hand, it’s total relativism, it’s pragmatism. There was no concept of absolute truth. There was nothing to progress to because the present, the relative was all the truth man had.

R.J. Rushdoony: 13:06 And second, to the fact of ancestor worship whereby the past totally controlled the future. But in biblical faith, the family inherits from the past in order to grow more firmly into the future. Man and the wife become one flesh. They break with the old family while still honoring it to create a new one. Hence it is that Genesis declares, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 13:48 While there is an honor of the parents, there is a leaving of them, a departure so that there is progress with honor. The new family remains tied to the old family in that both the man and wife represent a cultural inheritance from two specific families, two sets of parents whom they are religiously bound to honor. The growth is real therefore in that a separate family is established, and the dependence is real and it is godly.

R.J. Rushdoony: 14:30 The new clearly and plainly grows out of and realizes the potentialities of the old. Now, the second half this commandment, the first half, honor thy father and thy mother. And the second half gives the promise of life, that thy days may be long.

R.J. Rushdoony: 14:57 To despise one’s parents, to hate them, to dishonor them is to despise the immediate source of one’s life. It is a form of self hate, and it is a willful contempt for the basic inheritance of life. Very often of the years I have counseled with people who have expressed hatred for their parents. And the remark I have encountered over and over again is this, “I didn’t ask to be born.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 15:43 I very quickly realized that what they were saying when they made that statement was, “I’m not asking to live.” Because there was a suicidal will to death in every such person, and a very, very fine mortality rate. For to despise one’s parents is to despise one’s source of life and ultimately life. It is a form of self hate and of the will to death.

R.J. Rushdoony: 16:23 Repeatedly the scripture emphasizes respect for parents. Not only in the world of man, but in the world of animal life itself has a basic condition of life. For example, in Leviticus 22:28 we read, “And whether it be a cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day.” A strict prohibition in the law of killing a cow and it’s calf, a ewe and the lamb and the same day.

R.J. Rushdoony: 17:13 Then the scripture we read in Deuteronomy 22, six and seven, “If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones or eggs in the dam sitting upon the young or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam of the young that thou shalt in any wise let the dam go. Take the young to thee that it may be well with thee and that thou mayest prolong thy days.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 17:45 Notice that this commandment concludes with the same words as the fifth commandment. In other words, when one is working in the fields or perhaps picking fruit or pruning the trees and finds a bird on a nest, they are not permitted to kill the mother with the young. If they wish to take the eggs for eating purposes, or if they wish to take the young and kill them, fine. But they cannot kill the mother and the young.

R.J. Rushdoony: 18:23 Then to Exodus 23:19, “Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” Humane feelings are not the object here. This is case law. The minimal cases of respect for the immediate source of life. One must revere and respect the source of life, the parent, or to do otherwise to despise God. Indeed, honoring parents is placed on the same level as Sabbath keeping by the law.

R.J. Rushdoony: 19:10 For example, in Leviticus 19, verses two and three, “Ye shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy. Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father and keep my Sabbath. I am the Lord your God.” Now in sentence, Sabbath keeping and honoring and fearing parents is cited. Which means that a true rest in God is not only a matter of keeping the Sabbath, but of honoring one’s parents because we cannot truly rest in the Lord when we despise the immediate source of life.

R.J. Rushdoony: 20:00 God and parents are associated repeatedly in the law. Both we are told are to be revered. God absolutely and parents under God. Sabbath means rest, and the honoring of parents is rest and security for the child. Hence this is true even with respect to animal life. There can be no progress, no security, no rest without a respect for the past even where it deals with the humblest animal life.

R.J. Rushdoony: 20:45 Then, as has already been indicated, a third general principle inherit in this law is the promise of life for obedience. This promise is an earthly promise. There are those who refer it to eternity. But the law is clear, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. The promise is plainly material, this worldly. It is a promise not only to covenant man, but it has respect to his cattle, his field, and his trees.

R.J. Rushdoony: 21:31 When we go through all the passages in the law, the deal with this promise, some of them are Exodus 15:26, Exodus 23 versus 24 to 26, Deuteronomy 4:40, Deuteronomy 5:29 and 33, Deuteronomy 7:12 through 16, and 28 verses 58 through 63, and 32 verses 46 and 47. We find that the law is also a promise of death, of disease, of sterility and plague to those who are disobedient and at the same time of fertility, health, and long life to those who are obedient.

R.J. Rushdoony: 22:20 The antinomians read the law only as the promise of death. This is wrong because the two sides of the law are life to the obedient, death to the disobedient. We are sentenced to death by the law. We are made righteous before our God by the law through Christ’s work. And we receive this fact by faith.

R.J. Rushdoony: 22:52 Faith does not eliminate the legal transaction involved nor does it eliminate the requirements that we now show forth the fruits of salvation, godly works. For promise of life is not merely the removal of the condition of death, but the institution of the conditions of life.

R.J. Rushdoony: 23:25 Our Lord said in John 10:10, “I have come that they might have life, that they might have it more abundantly.” Earlier I pointed out that to dishonor one’s parents is to dishonor oneself and to invite death. The scripture makes it very clear in the law that this is the case.

R.J. Rushdoony: 24:02 For example we read in Leviticus 21:9, “And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father,” and the sentence was death. Now note what the law says. It doesn’t merely say that she has been guilty of prostitution, but that her act has an offensive characteristic, that she is out to profane her father. Thus we have to read the conduct of children in this respect according to the law.

R.J. Rushdoony: 24:59 That they are honoring their parents when they are law abiding. That when they turn to criminal activity, it involves not only their own taste for this, but also a deliberate offense against their parents. She profaneth her father. Every son and every daughter who is guilty of criminal activity in any form is guilty of profaning father and mother, of committing acts of offense against them so that they are in large measure aggressive activity.

R.J. Rushdoony: 25:45 Now at this point, we could say that in part, modern psychiatric studies have confirmed this, but with an ugly twist. And that instead of saying it is the child’s fault and moral responsibility, that this has been a deliberately offensive act, the compound evil upon evil by saying the parents are guilty because had they dealt differently with the child, this act would not have taken place.

R.J. Rushdoony: 26:20 So they compound the dishonoring by taking away the guilt and the moral responsibility. The law is plain spoken. It makes it clear that whatever the parents may be, whatever their short comings and sins, the child has an obligation. Honor thy father and thy mother as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. Thy days may be prolonged and that it may go well with thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Let us pray.

R.J. Rushdoony: 27:10 Almighty God our heavenly father, we thank thee that thou has given us so rich an inheritance through our parents, through the generations before us. We thank thee our father that thou has called us by thy grace to be members of thy kingdom. You’ve given us grace to honor our parents, rejoice in our inheritance and to do honor unto it. We pray our father that we may by thy grace pass on a goodly inheritance for those who come after us.

R.J. Rushdoony: 27:58 We beseech thee our father than in the difficult days, in the trying days ahead of us, thy would speedily disinherit an ungodly generation. We cast them out of their inheritance and cut short their days unto the end that the mean may inherit the earth and delight themselves in the abundance of faith. Bless us to this purpose in Jesus name. Amen.

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books. Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder