Introduction: Have you ever had someone compliment you and afterward
you wondered if was a compliment or a criticism? Today, in our
continued study on relationships, we study God’s plan for the
relationship between parents and children. God gives a wonderful
promise to children who have the right relationship with their
parents. When we examine that promise we find that it is more than
simply a promise. Is it a promise and a threat? A promise or a
prediction? On the other side of the relationship, what obligations
to parents have to their children? Let’s dive into God’s Word and
find out!

  1. The Promise of Life and Death

    1. Read Exodus 20:12. Parents, how many of you think the Ten
      Commandments are no longer binding on humans? (I thought

      1. All of you parents are also children. We see the
        advantage for parents in this text. Children, what
        advantage do we see for you? (The command says that
        honoring your parents allows you a long life.)

    2. What do you think it means to “honor” your parents? (Read
      Ephesians 6:1-3. Paul equates “honor your parents” with
      “obey your parents.”)

      1. What promise does Paul see as a result of obeying
        your parents? (A long and better life.)

      2. Is length of life what is actually being promised in
        Exodus 20:12? If you say “yes,” why does the command
        add “in the land the Lord your God is giving you?”
        (Ephesians clearly interprets this to mean long
        individual life. However, the additional phrase in
        Exodus 20:12 seems to link “honoring” parents to the
        existence of the nation.)

        1. What link do you see between honoring parents
          and the continued existence of a nation?

      3. Read Exodus 21:15 & 17. What connection do these
        texts have to length of life for children who do not
        honor their parents? (This is clearly another reason
        why dishonoring parents was tied to a short life.)

        1. Leviticus 20:9 and Proverbs 20:20 also prescribe
          the death penalty for cursing (repudiating the
          authority) of parents. Should we have laws like
          that today?

        2. If we did, how would society be different?

    3. Read Deuteronomy 21:18-21. I doubt that parents loved
      their children less in those days than they do now. Would
      you bring your son to the local elders?

        1. Did Samson’s parents bring him before the
          elders? (In Judges 14 we read of what appeared
          to be stubborn and rebellious conduct by Samson.
          I’ve got to wonder how many parents really had
          their sons stoned. The Bible Knowledge
          Commentary states that “no record in the Bible
          or in extra-biblical literature has come to
          light which indicates that this punishment was
          ever carried out.”)

        2. If, as I would guess, parents did not often (or
          ever) have their sons stoned, then why do you
          think this commandment is in the Bible? (Three
          reasons. First, the text tells us that the
          command was intended to influence the behavior
          of children (“All Israel will hear of it and be
          afraid.”) Second, the penalty for adults who are
          stubborn and rebellious towards God is eternal
          death. This is a life lesson. Third, v.21 tells
          us that evil influences were to be purged.)

    4. When we start reviewing these harsh commands, you may be
      saying “Whoa, let’s run back to the New Testament and see
      what Jesus says about this. He would not be so harsh.”
      Read Matthew 15:4. What penalty does Jesus say should
      apply to disobedience for dishonoring parents? (Jesus
      links the texts we just looked at: Exodus 20:12 and
      Leviticus 20:9.)

      1. Let’s read on to understand Jesus’ point. Read
        Matthew 15:5-9. What does Jesus include in the
        command to “honor” parents? (Financial help to

    5. How many of you have teenage children? How many of you can
      remember when you had teenage children? What practical
      connection exists for teenagers between obedience to
      parents and a better, longer life? (It was just two days
      ago that I suggested that two young people should turn
      their important life decisions over to me for the next few
      years. Mature parents can see the life-long impact certain
      decisions will have on their children. If children accept
      the decision-making of their mature Christian parents,
      their life will be better.)

    6. Read Colossians 3:20. Why would it please the Lord for
      children to obey their parents?

      1. Why does the Bible say that children should obey “in
        all things?” (It tells us that children are to obey
        even when they do not like it.)

  2. The Obligation of Parents

    1. Let’s revisit Ephesians 6:1. What limit do you find on the
      obligation of children to obey their parents? (It says
      obey your parents “in the Lord.” Thus, it seems to add the
      limitation that parents must be following in the ways of

      1. Parents, what responsibility does this place on you
        in giving commands and instructions to your children?

    2. Read Deuteronomy 6:5-9. What obligations to parents have
      to bring God’s requirements to the attention of their

      1. When should this teaching start?

      2. When should it end? (The text seems to say that this
        teaching should go on continuously.)

      3. If parents do not teach their children to obey God’s
        requirements, what expectation can parents have that
        their children will obey them?

    3. Read Colossians 3:21. What additional obligation rests on
      fathers (and mothers) when it comes to requiring children
      to obey? (Don’t make them bitter.)

      1. What, specifically, would you recommend to avoid
        making your children bitter? (The first thing is to
        evaluate the rules you require your children to obey.
        Don’t get into disputes with your children about
        things that do not matter. Uniformly enforce the
        rules that do matter. You should listen to your
        children and if they are right about some rule being
        arbitrary, then stop trying to enforce that rule.
        The second thing is to be kind and loving with your
        children – even when you are enforcing the rules.)

    4. Let’s revisit the very harsh sounding directive in
      Deuteronomy 21:18-21. Why are parents required to bring
      their son to the town elders? Is it just to get a good
      group of stone throwers? (The “elders at the gate” were
      the judges of legal matters (see Joshua 20:4). From this
      we conclude that the position of the parents was also “on

      1. What does the requirement of going to the town elders
        teach parents about dealing with difficult children
        today? (It teaches us to seek counsel from wise and
        godly counselors. “Town elders” would likely be those
        who had raised their own children, who took God’s
        teachings seriously and who were wise. If your
        children say that you are being unfair, or if you
        seem to be making your children bitter, this is a
        signal to parents to seek counsel from other wise and
        godly parents.)

      2. Notice another fact in Deuteronomy 21:19: it requires
        both the father and the mother to take the son to the
        town elders. What does that teach us about the
        obligation of parents in bring up their children?
        (Parents are a “check” on each other. Not only is the
        other parent a “sounding board” for discipline, but
        the parents should agree on how to raise the children
        – or at least agree on important matters. In this
        case, the child would not be put to death unless both
        parents agreed he was hopeless and the town elders

    5. Friend, do you want to have a long life? Do you want your
      children to have long and better lives? Being an obedient
      child, and being wise and godly parents is important. God
      instructs us to learn His will and teach it to our
      children. Will you agree to do that today?

  3. Next week: Parenthood – Joys and Responsibilities.