Honor The Father

Father's Day is a day we set aside to give special honor to fathers. For those in Christ, there is one common Father of us all. I could use this time to look at our earthly fathers but instead I want us to take time to gaze at honoring our Heavenly Father. I want to look at giving the greatest honor to the greatest Father.

Defining Honor
A good place to start is in the defining of this term "honor". When we think of honor, we often think of the ten commandments. Number 5 being to

"honour thy father and thy mother: ." Exodus 20:12a.

We naturally view this as saying we should do what they want us to do. Obedience. This is part of it, but looking up the definitions of the Hebrew and Greek words translated for this word honor, I found a broader picture that should make us think twice.
Two Hebrew words we translate as "honor" were defined as "to be heavy (increase in weight)" and as "ornament, glory and majesty". These are significant. The Hebrew mind set that has a root meaning "to increase in weight" is telling us that when we see such splendor, glory and majesty, as we see in our Father, we contribute our part by "increasing" or broadcasting, amplifying what we have seen. Our praise gives recognition to his value. This is honoring, which takes us to our Greek word which was defined, "to prize, fix a valuation upon, value". Unless our Father has a place in our hearts where He is our chief prize. Unless our whole being places the greatest value upon our Father, His honor will be less than whatever else holds the priority in our lives. To me, these are sobering words, and if you agree with me on that view, wait until you get a look at what the Bible says is the opposite. Our first verse will be 1 Samuel 2:30. Before we read this, I'll give you a little background of the context. These words in verse 30 came via a prophet to a man named Eli. He was a priest who appears to have lived a decent life himself, but failed God miserably in not properly dealing with his son's iniquity. Let's read the ominous words:

30 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 1 Samuel 2:30

It's interesting, here we see these words, "lightly esteemed". This is decreasing in value, lessening the value put upon something. God is drawing a contrast here. But now look at that word preceding "lightly esteemed". We find the word "despise". In this verse, we can see that the opposite of honor is despise. As if that's not a strong enough term, I looked up its meaning in the Hebrew. I found, "think to scorn, as in a vile person". Let me read it to you with that definition inserted for the word "despise". Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that think to scorn me, as in a vile person, shall be lightly esteemed.
The significance: We either give proper honor, as in valuing the Father as He should be valued in reverence, obedience, awe of Him or we scorn Him, as in a vile person. It is either one or the other. The supreme value, to be placed upon Him, allows for no middle ground.

Ways In Which We Honor Or Despise Our Heavenly Father
The scriptures itemize a number of ways we do this.

A. Parenting
Since this is Father's Day, and we just looked at the passage that covers this subject, I thought "Parenting" the best place to start. For all fathers, this passage in 1 Samuel carries a grave warning. In all of the rebuke God gave Eli about failure with his children, their mother is never mentioned. In our society, the blame for rotten children tends to fall predominantly on the mother. Poor fathers are considered a handicap, but poor mothers are inexcusable. In this passage though, we see God's condemnation resting squarely on the shoulders of the father. In God's sight, a poor father bears full responsibility. This passage talks about honoring the Father and failure in the way we raise our children. Eli's failure was that he offered words of reproof but stopped there. For his failing to properly honor God in his parenting responsibilities, God's wrath fell. Though Eli was a priest, and he didn't have a TV set to keep him occupied with frivolous pursuits, I can't help but wonder if he didn't begin his failure by negligence of Deuteronomy 6:6,7 which reads:

6 And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

I suspect God's words weren't the passion and prize of his heart, so he failed to have all his life revolve on them, joyfully talking about the things of God at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

B. Service
Another area in which we honor or despise the Lord is in our service to God. That which we specifically set aside entirely for the Lord. This may be things like time for our devotions and prayer. Does our time with the Lord in prayer get squeezed in at the end of our full day, when the best of our alert mind is now fading? Does our reading of the Word come as a quick obligation with no love or desire, if it comes at all? What about our body life with fellow believers and building up an edifice in which Christ dwells in our midst? Is our heart and effort there? These are just some of the areas of service, there are more. With these areas in mind, I'd like to look up Malachi 1:6-8:

6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? 7 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. 8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, it is not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.

Look back at verse 6. Notice we have "honoureth his father". God is looking and finds their honor of Him is missing, so He concludes with "that despise my name". Again we see that the opposite of "honour" is "despise" as we saw in 1 Samuel. Notice these priests, in doing service to God, offered contemptible sacrifices in verse 7. Verse 8 defines the manner in which they were failing. They offered blind and lame animals for sacrifice instead of good animals. We read this, thinking how contemptible of these low-life priests. Valuing God so little. We can see their diseased state, yet we need to see we do not slip into dishonoring - "despising" as the Bible put it, our Father in seeking Him and conducting His business. If He is esteemed of greatest value, we will naturally seek and desire to offer only the BEST to Him. Thus honoring the Father.

C. Speech
Speech is a broad area with various shades of complexity we need to look at. Our passage on this is Isaiah 29:13:

13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

We see a people who talk the talk. It specifically says, "this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me,". They spoke religiously, sounding pious. Evolutionarily speaking, these were early Pharisees. They watched their mouth and talked about God. We can honor God by getting this right, but fail in the core of our being. If our heart isn't truly burning for God, the outward talk is a cold dead shell. This is fearful! We can easily drift into this state if we are careless. The choice is ours. We don't have to be helpless victims. Look again at this verse. We find, "but have removed their heart far from me,". We see personal choice in their condition. How deceptively wicked is the heart of man. We can have lips that appear to speak virtuously, but what is going on where men can't see? This verse shows another important relation to the previous verse we looked at in Malachi 1:6:

6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear?...

We see honor joined with fear. The father aspect carries the needed honor and the master aspect, that of fear. This passage in Isaiah shows the collapse of the one falls with the other. We can maintain a framework of appearance, but if that is all we have, "honor verbally only", then whatever "fear" we claim to have is that which we have because we believe we should have it, not because it's a reality.
Example: Since this is Father's Day, I'll pick on the fathers. The fear of God, as we are taught right and wrong, tells us not to rent an X-rated movie. If we abstain from renting such movies, because of this knowledge, but take the second glance at the insufficiently dressed woman, we're fooling ourselves. The true fear of God would smite our conscience at that second glance because it knows God is not fooled. Our relationship with God is preparing for suffering some kind of consequence. That true fear will demand a fleeing all "shades" of sin.
We a speech that should honor God that needs to come from a pure source. Pretense is dangerous and ugly. I mentioned this area of speech is broad. The other aspects we need to consider are the ways we fail to honor the Father in our speech.

There is the obvious, in regards to foul language, in which we find a pertinent word from Christ:

36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Matthew 12:36

Since this is a view of honoring our Father, I felt it important to take a look at honoring God's name and the various religious expressions. Some of the details I'm about to cover, you may be well aware of, but others I honestly expect you've never even thought about. With ambiguous areas, I just ask you would prayerfully begin to ponder such things.
My wife was talking with a youth, who happened to be a pastor's son. She asked him what their church taught about swearing. His response was surprising. He said that where the Bible talks about cursing, the cursing is different to swearing. He didn't see the Bible condemn it. He said he didn't use it, but some of his Christian friends did. She also encountered a youth who, when told using the Lord's name in vain carried the death penalty in the Old Testament, couldn't believe that was in the Bible. I've seen many, who call themselves Christians, swear. I thought they didn't care, but maybe, for some, they're ignorant. Our society's so corrupt, even Christians are ignorant of the Bible, even preacher's children, who you would expect to know better. Lets look at the different types of swearing:

Using God's Name In Vain

7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Exodus 20:7

This is one of the Ten Commandments. If you've heard this commandment before, have you wondered why God gave such a command? Look at another passage, it gives more to ponder:

10 And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and the man of Israel strove together in the camp; 11 And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:) 12 And they put him in ward, that the mind of the Lord might be shewed them. 13 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. 16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death. Leviticus 24:10-16

Why such a command, and even more, why such a severe penalty? Under our form of government, we don't view authority in quite way one would under a monarchy. Look at the Persians in the book of Esther. If you went before the king to make a request without being called, you risked immediate death:

11 All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days. Esther 4:11

If you knew the ruler had that kind of power, you would approach with great respect. Appearing before God should be with even greater fear and trembling. He's so great, He's the creator of all! Just as we would show respect before a monarch, so we show respect before the greatest authority of all. All that refers to Him is to be treated with reverence. To use His name irreverently is to use His name as a vain usage, just an expression. He is holy, pure and powerful. To use his name casually is like walking in before the Persian king and saying, "Hey dude, how's it goin'?" Only the dead did that!

Using Various Religious Expressions
What about religious expressions: Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, Lord, Jesus and Holy Cow or Holy Moses?

16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? 18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. 19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. Matthew 23:16-22

This passage says a lot about referring to God or His holiness. To not use His title ‘God', yet use His title ‘Lord' is fingered in this passage. You're referring to Him. In everything referring to Him, we have to show reverence. I know people that use ‘Hallelujah' as an expression, but aren't really praising the Lord when they say it. This is using His name in vain. ‘Hallelujah' means ‘praise the Lord', using an abbreviated form of His name revealed to Moses. I've seen people making fun of those who praise the Lord in churches shouting ‘Hallelujah'. If we're not truly praising Him or talking about the word when we use it, we're using His name in vain. People often say "Thank God", yet aren't really giving Him thanks. This is also a vain usage.
I remember watching a Christmas special on a "Christian" TV station. I didn't watch long. The host used the Lord's name in vain. Many preachers use His name in vain. I think because they're always talking about Him, they don't stop to think about whether or not what they're saying is necessarily about Him.

Jesus is God, and to use His name as an expression is to use God's name in vain.
Expressions such as ‘Holy Cow' or ‘Holy Moses' fall in the same class as in Matthew 23:16-22 . Think about it. Why do men use religious items for meaningless expressions? Moses is a holy servant of God and should be held in respect and honor. His sister and brother complained about him and God smote his sister with leprosy for it (Numbers 12:1-15). Crass over-familiarization with God and the things of God are an abomination.

The terms ‘Holy Cow' and ‘By Jove' come under the classification of referring to pagan gods. When you think of a holy cow, you have the cow the Israelites made when Moses was receiving the ten commandments, or the cows Jeroboam made to cause Israel to sin in idolatry. ‘By Jove' refers to swearing by the Roman god ‘Jupiter'. Sometimes the expression is ‘By Jupiter' instead of ‘By Jove'.

13 And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. Exodus 23:13

Considering this verse, it can't be acceptable to use expressions referring to other gods or their consecrated items.
Look at the word ‘Shazaam'. That's a word I thought was dead until I heard an ad on the Christian radio station using it. Did you ever see the Saturday morning TV show ‘Shazaam'? The introduction told how the character got his powers calling on ‘Shazaam', a pagan Greek god. For that matter, the term ‘abracadabra', used for magic shows is the same thing. ‘Abracadabra' is actually an incantation, and I've seen the word on a list of names of pagan gods. If the word is actually the name of some pagan deity, to call that name in the performance of a magic trick is the same as appealing to a demon for special powers. You may have done it ignorantly in the past, but now you should know better.

What about our ‘lucky stars'. Some people thank them all the time. What lucky stars? Only the followers of astrology believe in lucky stars and actually give thanks to them. God is the one who deserves any thanks we may sincerely offer. I feel there's an area God overlooks, due to ignorance. Using His name is truly no account for ignorance, but other expressions have a certain plausibility. For example: The Leave it to Beaver expressions such as ‘Gosh' and ‘Gees' were used because they were thought, by the society of the day, to be clean words. Wicked adults would use God's name in vain, but forbid children to talk like them. The children would as closely approximate them as they could, and not use the same words. So we have ‘Gosh' to replace ‘God' and ‘Gees' to replace ‘Jesus'. I saw a term for those words I thought pretty well fit: ‘Minced Oaths'. Oaths are swearings and minced is mangled. So the swear words were slightly mangled so children wouldn't exactly be swearing, but still sound like their parents. God may wink at our ignorance and the action based on simplicity in trying to watch our language, but God is not mocked in knowing the origin of such words.

D. Offerings
Offerings are also an area we honor the Father in.

9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: Proverbs 3:9

As we honor Him in our heart, we will also work to forward the work of our Father and His interests. This Proverb has a two level message. First, we are instructed to materially show honor to our Father. Second, an additional aspect is highlighted in specifying the choicest and first to be given to honor our Father. I say choicest because you must consider the way we humans are satisfied. When we have a desire, the craving is strongest until we get a little. After that, we can contain our craving while we share some of that that comes following.
Say we're dying of thirst. We tend to be very selfish in sharing that first cup of water. The rest can wait their turn. By the third cup, we may still be a little thirsty but are more willing to share and offer our brother the third cup. True honor in our giving to the LORD comes when we wilfully and joyfully present that first cup to Him.

Heavy On The Negatives
As I prepared this message, I discovered the passages were heavy on the negatives. You have bad Eli in 1 Samuel. You have bad priests in Malachi and you have Pre-Pharisaism in Isaiah. I could even have supplied you with a negative of the offering proverb. I didn't just pick negative verses. I gathered the verses that speak of honoring which give specific directions as to how honoring is shown to our Father.
God laid out His Word very precisely. There are no accidents in His Word. Such warnings coupled with the word "honour" are to alert us to our need for caution in growing cold and neglecting the most important things.

Honor Of The Father In The Son
The Old Testament isn't the only place that speaks of honor. The New Testament adds one more feature. We find "honor thy father and mother" six times, showing how important that injunction is. What about the Father and honouring Him? Did I find anything new? Yes:

23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. John 5:23

These were Jesus' own words. Jesus didn't only say to honor Him like the Father. He added an important negative here again. A warning as it were.
The negative: To fail to honor Jesus is to fail to honor the Father.
For example: Jesus said He is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE, NO MAN comes to the Father but by Him in John 14:6. If we turn around and deny these exclusive words by saying Jesus is the best way or grant that a sincere Moslem will get to heaven via Mohammed or some other believer in some other religion will obtain the eternity his religion promises, we are not honoring Jesus as the only way SO are not honoring the Father. Jesus' own words mean a modern conservative Jew, such as we would find in Israel or New York, is not honoring the Father because he rejects the Son.
These words would also mean a Moslem who bows towards Mecca three times a day, is not honoring the Father. Remember, to not honor is to despise. This should open our eyes.
Since we do know the Son, are we superior? I suppose the best way to answer that question is with the Apostle Paul's words to Timothy:

15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. 17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:15-17

Paul said it. We don't pat ourselves on the back because we're on the right path. We bow before the Father giving honor to Him for shewing mercy on us by His grace. I would like to close this with a verse from the Psalms:

8 Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day. Psalms 71:8

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All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible

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