God shows us the importance of the commandment [to honor our parents in Exodus 20] in several different ways:

1. First of all, notice that He puts it first in the list of our horizontal responsibilities. Our vertical responsibilities are addressed in commands one through four to Him, but when He begins to express our horizontal responsibilities, our responsibilities in our human relations with one another, the very first thing He says is, “Honor your father and your mother.”

2. Secondly, it is interesting. If we were to go ahead and read the laws all the way up through Exodus 24, you would find that God attaches the same penalty to disobedience of parents that He attaches to blasphemy and idolatry and the worship of false gods. In both cases, blasphemy and idolatry, worship of false gods, and in the case of disobedience to parents, in the laws of Moses the death penalty is given.

3. Thirdly, notice that this command flows out of and is closely connected to what is said in the first four commands. The first four commands basically said, “Worship God only. Revere God only.” And then the fifth commandment, what is the first word out of God’s mouth to us about our parents? “Revere your parents.” Isn’t it fascinating that He could spend four commands, and especially the first two commands, claiming to Himself the exclusive right to our reverence, to our worship, and to our adoration. And then in the very first word out of His mouth to us in how we relate to one another, He can say, “Revere your father and mother.”