As we approach the Thanksgiving to Christmas season, I am reminded of that same time of the year in 1992. My Father, Gordon Whitney, was battling brain cancer. It had been two years since diagnosis. There was surgery and treatment that, at first, seemed successful, but then the cancer returned and we were told it was inoperable.
We knew we had little time left with dad. The last I saw him, he was trying to do whatever he could to leave the hospital and go home. We visited on Thanksgiving, and 10 days later, he passed into eternity to the God and Father he loved and knew so well. My dad and mom became Christians shortly after they married. Dad became passionate about the Bible and sharing the gospel. This eventually led him to leave the good job he had with IBM and move across the country to attend Seminary.
While there working and going to grad school, he found time to plant two churches. When he returned to the East Coast, although not formerly in ministry, he taught the Word of God, founded Trenton Bible Institute with my mother, fought the evil of Sex Ed in the Public schools, raised five children, and served the Lord well in the course of his years. I honor my father, and I am largely who I am due to his influence.
God designed the human family government as the most important government, the most important institution in the entire world. Therefore, the law of God takes great care to defend and protect that government from attacks which would come from within, as well as attacks which come from without. Let’s look at those protections designed by God in Exodus 21:15-17, as we continue in our sermon series, True Law is God’s Law.
Before we look at these verses, consider these questions. If you were to offer maximum protection of the God-ordained government of the family, who is most important to protect from attack? The Head and his right hand—in other words father and mother. What would be the maximum penalty you could assign to protect them if they are attacked? For the answer to that, let’s look at Exodus 21:15-17: “15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death. 17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.”
Verses 15 and 17 give the penalty of death in order to guard family government from attacks from within the family, and verse 16 deals with what I hope to show you are attacks from without the family. Verse 15 deals with physical attacks while verse 17 with verbal attacks.
Guarding Family Government from attacks from within – Exodus 21;15, 17
Physical violence against parents – one thing is abundantly clear and that is …
- the grave nature of striking one’s parents. God does not take such physical violence against parents lightly. Now the severity of the attacks forbidden must be less than murder, for the issue of murder has been dealt with already in Exodus 21:12. So we have the issue of patricide or matricide already declared. So this violence is that which is less than murder.
- Yet it is placed on a par with murder, resulting in the same penalty – death. So that the striking or cursing of parents is on the level of taking a life. The reaction we have to this penalty in our day is almost a universal rejection. Why should a son or daughter be put to death for striking against his or her parents? Why is that physical violence so far worse than the same act committed against someone who is not your parent? Consider another scenario, if you will. Imagine you were to gain access somehow to the White House and were in physical proximity of that Imposter who resides there. If, in that position, you were to violently strike him, what do you think would happen? You can bet the secret service would respond quickly to your actions and probably take your life in the ensuing response they gave to your action. And many people today would conclude that you got just what you deserved, even if they personally dislike the Imposter. They would justify the Secret Service response in that you were attacking the position of highest importance in the land and that such an attack must not be tolerated. For that reason, this law of God is just and righteous, because the truth of the matter is father and mother are the highest positions in God’s economy.
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