From Mount Sinai, God spoke the Ten Commandments as an overview of the whole Law, and were given in descending order of honor and authority. #1 No other gods before Me, #2 No carved images to worship, #3 Do not take name of God in vain, #4 Keep the Sabbath holy, #5 Honor your father and mother. The first four were people’s relationship to God, the next six were people’s relationship to others.
#6 You shall not MURDER
After the importance of order and honor in the family, prohibiting murder (Heb. raw-tsakh, ‘to dash in pieces/slaughter’) was the most essential as it preserved the sanctity of human life. The most basic building blocks of any society is the specialness of humanity. At the beginning of creation God built the earth and instantly produced billions of animals, insects and fish on it. As His last and greatest creation, He built a man and woman in His image who were able to make moral choices and have a relationship with Him (Gen. 1:26). After sin entered the world, anger, hate and jealousy created the possibility of murder which happened with Adam and Eve’s sons, Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:6-14; 23). Though Abel had previously killed an animal for sacrifice bringing no consequences, once Cain killed Abel, he knew he deserved to die. This unwritten rule on the human conscience was in place since the beginning and was later codified in the Ten Commandments.
This command forbid death by rage, premeditation, carelessness, abortion, euthanasia, and suicide—but not death by accident, justified war, self-defense, or capital punishment. Capital punishment from a social justice system (not vengeance by the individual) was commanded by God before the Law, in the Law, and after the Law in the NT (Gen. 9:5, 6; Ex. 21:12-14, Acts 25:11; Rom. 13:1-5). God expects governments to protect their people by protecting life. People by nature know that humans are special, but they don’t know why. Humans have value because the God that created them gives them value and no human has the authority to end another person’s life except in the form of justice for murder. Jesus recognized that all sin, especially murder, came from the heart (Matt. 15:19). Murder is the opposite of a life controlled by God (1 John 3:15; Rev. 21:8). Life is precious because God made it!
The first command dealing with human relations is the family. God created the home and human development from infant to adult to teach honor and authority. In many ways parents are like ‘God’ to children—they preceded them, created them, feed, clothe, love and discipline them (Prov. 13:24; 29:15, 17). Though no home is perfect and change can be sought, rebellion is never tolerated. God does not bless chaos. Children are to bring honor (Heb. kaw-bad, ‘to give weight to’) to their parents in how they think, speak and act toward them—even if they’re unworthy of it. Honoring someone does not mean their actions are approved of, but that the child is honoring the God who commanded it. Honoring says more about the person doing the honoring than the person being honored. Humility and rebellion are on opposite ends of God’s blessing (Prov. 3:34; James 4:6). Parents and the elderly are given a special designation of respect. This included showing deference to those that are older through physical and verbal appreciation. Also, older children are to take care of their parents in their old age in way of repaying them for all the years they poured into them both emotionally and financially (Lev. 19:32; 20:9; 1 Tim. 5:4).
God built the season of youth to be a time of exploration, learning and serving God (Ecc. 11:9; 12:13, 14). While old age often brings wisdom with little energy, youth often brings energy with little wisdom (Prov. 20:29; 1 Pet. 5:5, 6). Believers are to honor the authority over them as authority from God whether parental, governmental, or church (Rom. 13:1-7). No one lives outside the boundaries of leadership and authority, and there is no stable society without a stable home. Having an orderly, honoring home pleases God and is the only command that, if followed, draws the blessing and favor of God (Eph. 6:1-4). The home is the primary furnace of discipleship where a person’s character is forged.