"THE CURE: 2 TABLETS!"
TEXTS: Ex. 20:1-17
INTRO: We live in days of turmoil and distress, especially as it relates to the family and our society. Everyone wants to be happy and at peace, prosperous and fulfilled. Yet, we see so many problems in the world, and society seems to be coming apart at the seams with the institution of the family in so much trouble. So many times it seems there is a collective sigh when the next tragedy strikes in this world. Sometimes even the world says out loud, "What will it take to cure the world of such discourse and evil?" The obvious nature of man's sinfulness is well attested to in our world:
ILLUS: A London taxi driver used to wrap up his garbage each day and leave it in the backseat of his cab. Always by the end of the day, it was gone. Someone had taken it and gotten a big surprise. - Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
There really is a prescription that can cure the common cold heart of man
God gave it nearly 3,500 years ago, He told Moses to "take two tablets and call me in the morning." (prayer) These two tablets contained the cure for society's ills and the individual's need.
The two tablets were of course the "Law of God"
we call them the 10 commandments. They were written on TWO tablets of stone, and the actual set up of the two tablets is instructional.
1. Tablet #1 contained 4 commandments on them, all of them about our relationship to our heavenly Father. In fact, the first commandment is the "foundational" commandment on the stone
"No other gods"
no other Father!
2. Tablet #2 contained 6 commandments on them, all of them about human relationships, starting with our earthly father and mother, again the "foundational" commandment for this stone tablet.
The headings on both tablets then were about Fathers
heavenly and earthly, and they are the keystone commandments for the ones that follow on each tablet.
Failure to obey commandment #1 automatically negated 2-4, and failure to follow #5 sets the stage for failure in 6-10, something that even present day psychologists recognize!
The home has been in trouble, and we need to plead the "fifth" commandment again as well as the first!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that there are two basic foundations to a healthy society and a healthy soul
honoring God our heavenly father, and honoring our earthly father and mother.
I. FATHER GOD! 20:1-11
A. Headship 20:1-3
1. How do we know the 10 commandments work?
a. Ex. 20:1 "And God spoke all these words:"
b. They didn't come from man, but from God!
2. God is the ultimate head of all things, failure to yield or honor Him means being out of step with everything He has created.
3. God's headship is intended to help us; in fact, the language used here as the intro to the 10 commandments is the standard contract that Kings made with their subjects in antiquity. Those contracts always contained 4 elements:
a. King would identify himself - "I am the LORD your God
b. King would declare what he had done for his subjects in order to establish his right of expectations that would be listed later. - "
who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."
c. King would promise future protection and blessings. - "
but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."
d. King would then issue demands for exclusive loyalty to him and list obligations of subjects for these promises. - The entire 10 commandments.
4. God's headship could be trusted because He was not giving these commandments to advance himself, only us!
ILLUS:I was so touched when Norman Schwarzkopf, general of the Desert Storm allied forces, was interviewed by Ted Koppel. The general won my respect in a profound way when he was describing his own understanding and philosophy of warfare. He said, "I would never want to serve under a general who enjoyed war." He spoke about his heroes from World War II: Omar Bradley, Dwight Eisenhower, and George Marshall. He mentioned a couple of others who he said hated war. It made them safe to be generals in a war. - Earl Palmer, "Weighing Others Heavy," Preaching Today, Tape No. 134.
5. He is a father than can be trusted; He is looking out for our own good!
B. Healthy 20:4-11
1. God's use of "Thou shall NOT
" is not intended to diminish us, but to protect us.
a. God did not want us distracted by other things that cannot be GOD!
b. Just as we tell our children when they are young, "no, no, no" in order to protect them from harm, God uses "You shall not" to protect us from the very things that would harm us.
2. This fundamental issue of God's fatherhood is the only real truth than can unite humans together in a positive way.
ILLUS:Trying to build the brotherhood of man without the fatherhood of God is like trying to make a wheel without a hub. - Irene Dunne (1904- ) -- Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 4632.
3. The world cannot unite under a bunch of different gods, and fortunately, there is only ONE GOD!
a. God's fatherhood is intended to strengthen us, to guide us, to protect us, to allow us to grow into everything God has planned for us.
b. Why would anyone want to avoid this?
4. No one who has ever walked away from God has in the end benefited!
II. FATHERHOOD-A GIFT! 20:12-17
A. Honoring 20:12
1. Now on tablet #2 we find the foundational commandment at the top of the list, to honor earthly father and mother.
a. Just as commandment #1 sets the tone and ability to obey the commandments concerning our relationship to God, this commandment about earthly father and mother sets the tone and ability for us to obey commandments 6-10.
b. We already know that children from fatherless homes tend to break these commandments of God more than when they come from loving homes where a dad is present.
2. Honoring God makes it easier to honor earthly fathers.
a. We learn to respect God and His authority and it helps us to respect and yield to earthly authority as well, and the first real earthly authority we encounter is with our parents.
b. Ideally, our earthly father will be something of an example of our heavenly father!
ILLUS:It has been said that "a child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father." Recently I asked the preschool class in our Sunday school to draw a picture of God. I intended to use them as an illustration for my Sunday sermon. Toward the end of class the children were excited to show me their work. They came up with rainbows and men with big hands. Finally, my daughter showed me her picture: a man with a suit and tie on. "I don't know what God looks like," she said, "so I just drew my daddy instead." What an awesome responsibility. - Al Serhal, Oakford, Ind. "Lite Fare," Christian Reader. Leadership.
3. It is important therefore that children honor their earthly parents so they learn to honor God's authority as well.
a. In this way fatherhood is a gift
and a challenge.
b. We are given the opportunity to show our children the positive side of authority by using it correctly and in a godly fashion.
4. Children that have been taught to honor their parents usually honor other means of authority as well.
a. When we honor God our father and Dad our earthly father we set a pattern in our life that allows us to submit to authority
and this is healthy!
b. The Apostle Paul simply stated this truth when he said in Eph. 6:1 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, FOR THIS IS RIGHT."
c. Paul doesn't debate it, just declares it.
5. There is a promise with this commandment as well, "so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."
a. This wasn't so much a promise of individual long life spans but that the nation would survive a long time as a society in the land promised by God.
b. Honoring our parents sets the stage for a healthy society.
c. One of the signs of the last days when evil will begin to take over the world is that children won't honor their parents anymore, notice: 2 Tim 3:1-2 "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, DISOBEDIENT TO THEIR PARENTS, ungrateful, unholy,
6. A breakdown in society can be linked to a breakdown in honoring our parents!
B. Honorable 20:13-17
1. There is also another important element however to the 5th commandment, not just honoring parents, but PARENTS WHO ARE HONORABLE!
a. This is implied in the law for children, that their parents will live and act honorably!
b. God as a father cannot be dishonorable, and as earthly parents we must strive to be honorable.
c. This is true for both father and mother.
2. Children will find it much easier to honor a father and mother that live honorable lives!
a. Though Paul had simply stated that children should obey their parents for this is right
he wrote next that fathers were not to "exasperate their children."
b. Paul thus challenges both the child and the father.
3. How much easier it will be for our children to find a loving God as their heavenly father when they have experienced a loving father in their earthly dad.
a. What a privilege dad we have, to introduce to our children what God is like!
b. What an awesome responsibility!
c. What a rewarding one too!
4. While there can be exceptions, most children who have walked with a godly father on earth will also walk with their heavenly father on earth too.
5. We can help our children find the right way when we have proven we know it ourselves!
ILLUS:When I was a small boy growing up in Pennsylvania we would often visit my grandparents who lived nine miles away. One night a thick fog settled over the hilly countryside before we started home. I remember being terrified, and asking if we shouldn't be going even slower than we were. Mother said gently, "Don't worry. Your father knows the way."
You see, Dad had walked that road when there was no gasoline during the war. He had ridden that blacktop on his bicycle to court Mother. And for years he had made those weekly trips back to visit his own parents.
How often when I can't see the road of life, and have felt that familiar panic rising in my heart I have heard the echo of my mother's voice: "Don't worry. Your Father knows the way." - James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 201.
a. They will find peace knowing we know God ourselves.
b. When we have blazed the trail and have clearly marked it out for them they will find it easier to follow.
c. They are more likely to follow your path dad when they see it has led you safely into God's arms, even if they veer from the path for a while they will know how to find it again when they need it.
6. Those who live honorably find it easier to honor God and parents too!
7. Our society's health is established on this foundation of parental honoring, and being honorable. It is the foundational commandment that solves the "thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not covet." -- for these all represent a breakdown of authority and respect for it, that which is established in the 5th commandment.
8. Let's honor our fathers today, both our heavenly one and our earthly one
and if we are an earthly dad let's represent the image of our heavenly father to our children.
CONCLUSION: The two tablets with God's commandments both started off with a foundational commandment, the first tablet and first commandment concerning our heavenly father, and the second tablet began with our earthly father and mother. A healthy society and a healthy soul require the ingestion of these two tablets, not on stone but on hearts of flesh. How well we do with our heavenly father and our earthly one can have dramatic impact on our lives and society. For the earthly father the call is in both directions, to honor our father and for us as fathers to be honorable!