Ephesians Study, Part 45: God's Design for the Family:
"Children, Obey Your Parents!"


Last week I wrapped up my attempt to convince you that the Bible is a supernatural document, inspired by God and written through the guidance of the Holy Spirit in such a way that much of the Bible has more than one meaning.  One a surface meaning from the story being related, but a deeper and more meaningful one often teaching us something by using the method of a type, or a model foreshadowing future events.

I went there, because the human institution of marriage is used throughout the Bible, and often as a model to teach us about the relationship between each of us and God, and especially the relationship between the Church and Jesus.

And I urge you to realize that this is far too meaningful to attribute it to coincidence.

We wrapped up Ephesians Chapter 5 with a recap of the two rules that God gave us for marriage.  One for the wife and one for the husband.  The wife's rule is to let the husband lead the family and marriage.  The rule for the husband is to love the wife without limit, like Jesus loves the Church.

Today's Lesson on the household unit:

Although we start into Chapter 6 of Ephesians this morning, Paul does not really change the topic entirely.  He ended Chapter 5 with rules about marriage, and the topic as we start Chapter 6 is still the family.

Remember that the first three chapters of Ephesians were doctrine.  Chapters 4, 5 and 6 are very practical insight, exhortation and application to our lives.

One of the things that becomes obvious from Chapter five and the first few verses of Chapter six, is the importance of the household.  During the last several lessons we have dealt with the institution of marriage and how important that God considers it to be.  This importance is not only in terms of its biological, psychological and sociological aspects but also the supernatural aspects of marriage and how God uses the institution of marriage to communicate some of his most intimate truths.

I think you would find it interesting to take a computer and go through the Bible to see how often the household, the family unit as an entity, is referred to.  There are over 70 places in Scripture where it refers to "you and your household" or other phrases similar to that including the home or the household as a unit.

Bible scholars understand the significance and prominence that Passover plays throughout the Bible.  This significance is in terms on Israel's history and its deliverance from Egypt, where you may recall how Charlton Heston led the Israelites out of the grips of Yul Brynner so many years ago.  One of the interesting aspects of Passover is that it is attached to the household.  Passover is not a matter of the individual but concerns the household, the family.  If you had blood over your doorpost that night, the death angel passed over your home, saving your entire household.  It had nothing to do with your national our ethnic background.  If you were an Egyptian and were in a home that had blood over the doorpost you were spared.  If you were an Israelite and did not have blood over the door, the firstborn of your household died that night.  One point that is interesting about Passover, which of course gets celebrated as one of the seven Jewish feasts, is that is a home thing.  Technically it could be classified as not being a Levitical offering, because the offering was not being made by a priest but by the head of the family, in the home.  The Passover is for the home.

Exodus 12:4 makes that point when Passover is first introduced.

So, Biblically, the concept of the household is important.

As we start into a section which is going to deal with households, particularly children and parents, I want to remind you of the article I mentioned a few weeks ago that appeared in Atlantic monthly, by Barbara Whitehead, published in April of 1993.  That is the article that has highlighted the results of social research about the family and was so contrary to the liberal teachings most current at the time.  It clearly punctures most of the myths that modern society has been promoting concerning the family.  The generation starting in the nineties was the first-generation in the history of mankind where the generation is doing worse than their parents.  That is so, psychologically, socially and economically.  We talked about all of the ill effects of these changes.  For those of you who would like to find that article, I believe you can find that article from these references on the Web.  (Here's one portion of it, quoted in another article).

Chapter Six: Children Obey your Parents!

Now let's jump in the early part of Chapter six.  As we start, we will deal with sort of a finish or a follow-on of some of the thoughts of Chapter five concerning marriage.

I want you to notice that the obedience referenced here is "in the Lord."  We could look at a number of references from the Bible concerning "in the Lord" but I decided not to take that detour.  In God's design, the parents are following God and are leading in a Godly way.  So the parents are in the Lord and their leadership, which the children are instructed to follow in Godly leadership.

Instead, let's stay on point here and turn to Romans Chapter one.  In the latter part of Romans chapter one, Paul is describing the results of unbelief.  It is a very famous passage.  Let's start with verse 24.

Of course we often referred to this series of verses to describe some of our common current societal issues. Now he is going to list the signs all this. This is quite a list.  Notice the next one. Disobedience to parents:

We tend to regard rebellion and disobedience to parents as a natural part of life, but God does not.  It is interesting that the Bible classifies that behavior right with some of the most violent of our human behavior.

It is interesting that in ancient Israel, a disobedient child was subject to the ultimate penalty of death.  Apparently they did not mess around with disobedient children.

We can also turn to Second Timothy Chapter 3:

Amazing.  One of the consistent signs of the end times is the disobedience to parents.

And it goes on

So this topic that Paul is getting into is not just a little recommendation and a social admonition.

In Matthew Chapter 24, when four of the disciples go to Jesus for a confidential briefing about his Second Coming, and Jesus gives them a two-chapter answer to their questions, one of the prophecies that Jesus made about the end times is that the love of many will grow cold.  Where is the basic foundation of love?  The family.  Again we talked about that back in Chapter 5, that when the love within the family fails, society fails.  And that is a sign of the end times.  That is the most basic platform of love, the family.  The family serves as the seedbed for our values.  So as we see the family crumble all around us, we should not be surprised to see the values of our culture crumble along with it.

Let's continue with verse two which continues the same thought.

What Paul is making reference to here is the Ten Commandments.  If you look at Exodus Chapter 20, where the Ten Commandments are given (notice that they are not the 10 suggestions) many of the Commandments stand alone, but one of them has a promise attached to it. Now don't misunderstand me.  We are not under the law.  We are not required to obey the Ten Commandments in order to be saved. On the other hand, the righteousness of the law is an explanation of what God considers right, and just, and good.  And just as Wayne has been teaching in his series on Galatians, the existence of the law actually is a favor, it shows us how lucky we are to have grace.

In the Old Testament, if you watch carefully, people who did not obey their parents did not have the benefit of long life.  Eli's sons are examples of that in First Samuel, Chapter 4.  In several places in the Old Testament, as the prophets or the writers attempt to communicate the degeneration of the society, it includes the phrase that the parents were being run by the children.  In the Old Testament, the idiom of the children being in control, getting their own way, was a major sign of the decline in the society and the family.  In Isaiah 3, you find an example that.

This whole idea of honoring Father and Mother is expressed here as being in the child's best interest.  It isn't just an onerous burden, but in fact, it was for their own good.  Obedience brings a blessing, which if followed, they would escape many of the repercussions of misbehavior.  Sin always robs us.  Obedience always enriches us.

Disobedience to parents is rebellion against God.  That's one of the principles in the latter part of Ephesians 5 and the early part of Chapter 6.  God has established a proper order.  It is his divine pattern off governance.  For us to refuse to follow his pattern is direct disobedience, to him, to his instructions, to his plan.  So it is relatively straightforward, at least from the perspective of the parents, that children are to obey their parents.

But then verse four turns it over.

Next week we will pick up with Ephesians 6:4 and see where Paul takes this.