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What children are exposed to when they are not trained to honor father and mother should horify parents to diligently raise them up in the fear of God and labor on their knees for their salvation. Think of 2Kings 2: 23, “Then he (Elisha) went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”. These were teenagers who were old enough to discern right from wrong. They were of the age of accountability. And by saying “go up, go up”, they may have watched from a distance as Elijah was taken and they made fun of Elisha to follow him. The repetition shows their heartiness and earnestness, that it was no sudden slip of their tongue, but a scoff proceeding from a rooted impiety and hatred of God and his prophets. They had no fear of God in them which is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). So what did Elisha do, vs. 24, “So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths” wow, that sounds severe and sounds like Elisha abused the power given to him. Let’s analyze this, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. This was a fulfillment in my judgment of the commandment Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you”. This is the only commandment with a promise but if you read it carefully, you also discover that it has also a threat. These young people came from idolatrous city; their parents had not trained them in the fear of the Lord for they did not fear the Lord themselves. While we think it’s harsh, God demonstrated righteous judgment. This is why we must teach our young people the fear of the Lord by first never treating God casually among other things, setting the example, teaching reverence which is crucial. Listen to Matthew Henry, “Let parents, that would have comfort in their children, train them up well, and do their utmost betimes to drive out the foolishness that is bound up in their hearts; for, as bishop Hall says, “In vain do we look for good from those children whose education we have neglected; and in vain do we grieve for those miscarriages which our care might have prevented.” Jesus also rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees (Matthew 15) who had transgressed the commandments of God because of their traditions. They were more concerned of questioning Jesus about His disciples eating bread without washing their hands. You know what the Lord said to them? Matthew 15:3 “He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8 ‘ These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” What a slap in the face. These people brought curses upon themselves and their children because traded what they needed to do to embrace traditions hence neglecting to teach their young people what was important, “honor your father and mother”. For this reason I believe, no young person can say they truly honor and serve God if they do not honor their parents. Parents should teach this commandment to their young people if they want God’s blessings and favor on their children and reverse the threat and curses that are brought about when the 5th commandment is broken.
Children are to obey while under their parents' care, but the responsibility to honor parents is for life. Children should honor their parents, even if the parents are demanding and unfair. Christian parents, and Christian children, will relate to each other with thoughtfulness and love. This will happen, if both parents and children put the others' interest above their own; that is, if they submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21).
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