Ten Commandments | Devotion 4: Deserved Respect
Imagine finding out you were born under a death sentence because of your ethnicity and gender. Your parents were hiding you for as long as possible from the authorities. Finally, realizing that they could no longer keep you safe, your mother took action. She swaddled you and put you into a small basket made of bullrushes, you floated on the Nile River. That is how Moses’ life began (Read Exodus 2:1-10).
We know very little about Moses’ parents. Assuming they are like most, we can imagine that they were protective of their children. Their goal was raising them in their ways, customs, and instilling in them the faith they had in God. Yet for Moses, he never got to experience the nurturing of his birth parents. His connection with his family is at best, viewed from the outside. Still, Moses came to know who he truly was. Possibly from his mother, sister, or by God himself, Moses knew he was a Hebrew. In Exodus 2:1, we find that both parents are from the house of Levi. Unnamed, it will not be until Exodus 6:20, that his parents’ names are finally revealed to us, “Amram took as his wife Jochebed his father’s sister, and she bore him Aaron and Moses, the years of the life of Amram being 137 years.”
As we can see from the text, Amram took his aunt Jochebed, as his wife. A short while later in Leviticus 18:12 and 16, we find that this is strictly forbidden. What is actually happening here? If we read the whole story of Moses, we quickly realize that his destiny is not determined by his birthright. God’s plan for his life would supersede any detrimental effects of being born a slave. Eventually, he would lead his people out of bondage and would introduce the commandment that the father and mother shall be honored, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).
Considered the first commandment of the second tablet, the fifth commandment brings together the conduct towards our familial relations. It is telling us to do more than obey but to adore those who give us life. This is for the people who have looked after us (even if it was just a short time) with reverence and respect. They are the ones who have kept us safe and have given us instruction so that we may prosper. It is to those that sacrificed so we may have life. What greater love is there? Just as Amram and Jochebed, protected their son Moses, we see the reason why we must honor them. They put it all on the line for him.
As our parents age, we owe them the honor and respect they deserve. It may be taking time out of our day to check on their well being, taking them to lunch, or just conversation. We should not consider this as a chore, but a celebration. God has not commanded that “if” our parents should be honored, but “how” they should be honored. Even if they struggled in the parenting role, we should find the grace and the love that God has commanded. There is a promise that is attached to this, and we would do well to listen to it.