The Covenant Law of Yah Part 5

This is the fifth in a 10-part series that focuses on the covenant law of Yah which was inscribed on tablets of stone at Mount Sinai. What do these laws really mean and how are we to keep them?


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The fifth commandment is the first of the six that instructs us on how we are to deal with our very first neighbors, our parents. And it is so important that honoring our parents, we are told, will result in our having a lengthy stay in the land of promise.

12 Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which Yah your Elohim gives you.

—Exodus 20

While this law, and all the “neighbor” laws we’ll be covering, speaks to the earthly, they represent higher spiritual applications that we will cover as well. These laws, therefore, are a training ground for higher spiritual fulfillment. Take the fifth commandment for instance. The direct command to honor our earthly father and mother prepares us for a higher relationship with the Most High, who is our collective Father.

16 Doubtless you are our father, though Abraham is ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledges us not: you, O Yah, are our father, our redeemer; your name is from everlasting.

—Isaiah 63

In this way the fifth commandment acts as a bridge that carries us from commandments specifically tailored to our relationship with Yah to those that deal with our fellow man. But getting back to the earthly aspect, our fathers and mothers are to be honored by direct command of Yah. But we must understand what kind of honor we are talking about, and what constitutes father and mother in the truest sense.

First, we’ll look at the word for “honor” in the Hebrew, which is word 3513 in the Strong’s Concordance, kabad or kabed. It comes from a primitive root meaning to be heavy, weighty, or burdensome, often in the sense of greatness or importance.

25 The ships of Tarshish were carriers for you in your market: and you were filled, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas.

—Ezekiel 27

5 Hear the word of Yah, you that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let Yah be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.

—Isaiah 66

The words very glorious and be glorified in the preceding versesare also derived from word 3513 in the Strong’s. Therefore kabad or kabed in various uses often speaks to the weight of honor we are to bring to our parents, whereas there is a penalty for doing the opposite, that is, bringing dishonor to them.

16 Cursed be he that dishonors his father or his mother.

—Deuteronomy 27

To dishonor father or mother, according to the word used here, which in Hebrew is qalah, means to lightly esteem, dishonor, or degrade. So not only is there a promise of long life to the children of Israel for honoring father and mother, but there is also a curse associated with breaking this commandment. In fact, when we were a nation, with Yah as our King, the penalty for breaking this commandment was clearly spelled out:

18 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, so that he dies: so shall you put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

—Deuteronomy 21

Note that the Scripture above calls the dishonoring of father and mother “evil.” This is because all sin is evil, and according to First John 3 verse 4:

4 Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

—1 John 3

And continuing in verse 8:

8 He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning.

—1 John

This is why dishonoring father and mother is considered evil, and as we saw with the passage in Deuteronomy chapter 21, that sin can be as simple as a son or daughter refusing to obey the voice of their parents. Now, having said that, we have to clear up another matter, and that concerns the kinds of fathers and mothers we are to honor in the way the law states. Realize that the parents in Deuteronomy 21, which we just read, were commandment-keepers. An important account in the time of Yeshua gives us the following:

31 There came then his brothers and his mother, and, standing outside, sent unto him, calling him.

32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, your mother and your brothers outside seek for you.

33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brothers?

34 And he looked round about on them who sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brothers!

35 For whosoever shall do the will of Elohim, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

—Mark 3

“Whosoever shall do the will of Elohim, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” When your biological mother or father fails to raise you spiritually, Yah often places others in your life to act as your spiritual father or mother or brother or sister. One important aspect of honoring our parents is obeying their voice; listening to their instructions, advice, counsel, and warnings. But we are talking about righteous parents here, whether they are parents by blood or not.

When preparing his twelve disciples to be sent out to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Yeshua cautioned and instructed them concerning several matters. And he knew that his message would cause division. He himself said:

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

—Matthew 10

This he said to coincide with Micah 7 verse 6, which speaks of a time when evil will be rampant.

6 For the son dishonors the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.

—Micah 7

And this division will be due to the Word of truth, which cuts like a sword:

2 “. . . he has made my mouth like a sharp sword.”

—Isaiah 49:2

16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword.

—Revelation 1

That sword of truth, Yeshua says, will cause great division in a man’s household, where parents will be against children, and children against parents. This tells us that righteousness will dwell with unrighteousness in many households in these last days, and we as believers will have to do as Yeshua commanded elsewhere and forsake the unrighteous members of our families:

29 And everyone that has forsaken houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

—Matthew 19

Righteous parents will not lead their children to corruption. They will in fact instruct their children according to the law of Yah and according to his commandments as we are told in the book of Proverbs:

20 My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of your mother:

21 Bind them continually upon your heart, and tie them about your neck.

22 When you go, it shall lead you; when you sleep, it shall keep you; and when you awake, it shall talk with you.

23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.

—Proverbs 6

In a later verse, another proverb declares that righteous parents are to:

6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

—Proverbs 22

By disobeying righteous parents, who are instructing you directly from the Word of Yah, you are in fact disobeying Yah himself and dishonoring him as well as your parents. This is what is to be understood concerning this commandment.

While we are to submit to and honor righteous parents in all matters, dealing with unrighteous parents is quite another subject. Scripture leaves us with a great example to follow, however, in that of Jonathan, the son of Israel’s first earthly king. His story, which is entwined with King David’s, can be found in First Samuel. There we read of a righteous and brave young David who, after slaying a Philistine giant, becomes a faithful servant to King Saul. (See First Samuel 17.)

David’s bravery was praised by the people and stirred the jealousy and hatred of Saul. Even King Saul’s own son, Jonathan, loved David as his own soul. (See First Samuel 18 verses 1 to 4.) In fact, Saul is driven by such jealousy and hatred that he attempts to kill David several times, yet David spares the king’s life more than once when he is given opportunities to kill him. Saul goes so far as to invite his own son into this intrigue, commanding him to fetch David that he might be slain.

30 Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, You son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and unto the shame of your mother’s nakedness?

31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the ground, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Therefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die.

32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Why shall he be slain? what has he done?

33 And Saul cast a javelin at him to strike him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.

34 So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no food the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had caused him shame.

—1 Samuel 20

We see that later in the chapter Jonathan actually defied his unrighteous father and in effect helped David make an escape. And the record does not show that he sinned in doing this. In fact, in helping to spare David’s life, he actually did the will of the Most High, in that David became the first King to serve Yah faithfully, insomuch that we are told:

21 And afterward they desired a king: and Elohim gave unto them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.

22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who shall fulfill all my will.

—Acts 13

And finally, we have Yeshua’s own words concerning this law.

1 Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Yeshua from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

3 And Yeshua answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of Elohim for the sake of your tradition?

4 “For Elohim said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘he who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.’

5 “But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to Elohim,” 6 he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of Elohim for the sake of your tradition.”

—Matthew 15

This goes hand in hand with Proverbs 23.

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and don’t despise your mother when she is old.

—Proverbs 23

We are to honor our parents even in old age. If they cannot fend for themselves, it falls to us as their children to make sure they have what they need. We cannot make excuses like the Pharisees and scribes and say that what we intended to give to them has been set aside for Yah. We fulfill Yah’s will and law by honoring our parents with both words and actions.

And this is true even if your biological parents are unrighteous and count you as their enemy. Of this, and concerning all the enemies among our own people and in our own household, Yeshua says:

35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

—Luke 6

If we are to treat the evil and unrighteous parents and people in our lives this way, how much more are we to honor righteous parents? I tell you the honor we are to show them should be as the Hebrew word for honor indicates. Our honor for them, as kabad or kabed implies, should be heavy, weighty, or burdensome in its greatness.


Keywords: The Fifth Commandment Keywords: honor your father, honor your mother, commandment with promise, fifth commandment, 10 commandments, ten commandments

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