(Kersten, The Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2, Part 13) The Required Obedience to the Authorities God Has Set Over Us Lord's Day 39 Psalter No. 207 st. 4 Read Proverbs 31 Psalter No. 333 st. 1, 2, 3, 4 Psalter No. 40 st. 2, 3 Psalter No. 90 st. 6, 7 Beloved, No one can lengthen or shorten his life as determined by God's eternal counsel. Job says in the 14th chapter, "Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with Thee, Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass". God has determined the days of man and the number of his months. In these words Job wants to express the insignificance and frailty of man." Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one." Consequently, because of our original sin we are all subject to death, and life is given to us only through the long suffering and patience of God, in order that God may fulfill His counsel unto the end. Therefore it must be said that the number of our days is determined by the Lord. No man will ever pass the bounds appointed by God. Though the moment of man's death is firmly determined and that moment lies in God's counsel as well as the moment of his birth, yet with respect to ourselves we can shorten our days. One who commits suicide shortens his own life. On the other hand, the Lord promised the blessing in length of days for those who walk in His law. To the righteous God promises a lengthening of life, so that they may see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. We have a very clear evidence of this in the promise given by God in the fifth commandment, which I wish to consider with you as it is expressed in the thirty-ninth Lord's Day of the Heidelberg Catechism. Q. 104. What does God require in the fifth commandment? A. That I show all honour, love and fidelity, to my father and mother, and all in authority over me, and submit myself to their good instruction and correction, with due obedience; and also patiently bear with their weaknesses and infirmities, since it pleases God to govern us by their hand. In keeping with these words, our subject for this occasion is the obedience which is required of us toward the authorities which God has set over us. Let us consider I. the objects, II. the content, and III. the basis of this commandment. I The objects of this commandment are our parents and all those who are placed in authority over us. The content is thus described, "that I show them all love and fidelity, and patiently bear with their weaknesses". The basis of this commandment lies in this, that it pleases God to govern us by their hand. With this Lord's Day we arrive at the discussion of the second table of the law. Already at the beginning of our discussion of the law, we noted that in the first table four commandments are written, and six in the second. In the gospel of Matthew the Lord Jesus Himself, described the main contents of each of the two tables. The first table says that we should love the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our might, and the second table which is like unto it says, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Hence, what is written in the second table is not to be considered less important than what God demands in the first table of the law. I shall not discuss the differences we have with Rome regarding this, because we have done so already in a previous Lord's Day sermon. I would only say this, that the second table begins with the commandment which places us in subjection to those who are set in authority over us. It begins with the acknowledgment of the authority which God Himself has given over men, so in that acknowledgment lies the acknowledgment of the authority of the Lord Himself. In this commandment only father and mother are mentioned, because authority begins with them. Originally it was they who exercised authority over their children. As the community of families became the state, rulers are also included in this commandment, which pertains to all those whom God has clothed with authority. At the same time when father and mother are mentioned here, we are taught that the affairs of state can never prosper if authority in the families is not maintained. This is the root of all authority among nations and the root of authority in social and church life. For that reason it is so important that we turn all our attention to our families, not only to our children, but also to the parents who are called to exercise that authority. The Catechism further mentions all those in authority over us, as they are found in civil life. Hence it includes not only fathers and mothers of families, but also parents-in-law and grandparents, so that the same ties of affection which are fundamental to this commandment may be felt toward them. Father and mother also include the authorities in the broader sphere of civil and political life over which God Himself has placed rulers. These rulers are not placed there by the will of man. It is not as the socialists would have it, that the people choose their rulers and the rulers receive their authority from the people. This is not so. Although various forms of government must be recognized in their authority, the people themselves never clothe their rulers with authority. For this reason there are kingdoms, empires, republics. Take, for example, a man who is the head of a republic as a result of a popular election, or is the head of a kingdom by virtue of succession: such a head of the state is not clothed with authority by the people. Although a certain person is chosen, his authority does not come from the people. This is clearly written in Romans 13 where we are told that all powers that be are ordained of God. There is no power which is not of God and ordained of God. In Genesis 9 the Lord did not institute capital punishment. The prohibition against murder God had already inscribed in Adam's heart. In Genesis 9: 6 God did institute the government to enforce the law against murder among men. "Whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." In this passage God gave some men power over others, such power in fact that in certain cases they were given life and death authority over their fellow-men to shed their blood. In this passage God Himself instituted the government and clothed it with authority. Therefore the authority exercised by the government is not received from the people, but from God Himself, as it is in the family. We do not choose our parents; they are given to us. So it is with all government in general. God clothes them with authority, and He alone calls the higher and lower magistrates to account for the way in which they fulfill the task God lays upon them. The same is true of the family: God appointed the man to be the head of the wife. It is God's own institution. At the beginning of the service we heard what the wise king Solomon had to say of a virtuous woman, and what value he ascribed to such a wise woman. This should be thoroughly impressed upon our children so that they also may have a high regard for mother. However virtuous such a woman may be, she has not been appointed to be a head. The man is appointed to be the head of the wife; therefore this commandment is applicable also to marriage: "Honour thy father and thy mother". In other words, acknowledge your subjection to the God-given authority. Let the wife subject herself to her husband, the children to their parents, but also the employee to the authority of the employer. The Catechism speaks of all who are in authority over us. Communism would like to reverse the social order which God has instituted. Let me mention just one instance. Attempts are being made to establish employee participation in the management of business, but the fact is that an employee owes submission to his employer and is not his equal; he is subordinate. Honour thy father and thy mother; that is, be submissive. This applies also in social life. Today some go so far as to say, "What old-fashioned ideas! They no longer belong to our enlightened age. Our social life has developed in such a way that the people govern". But that is directly contrary to God's law. The outcome will show how such a world makes itself ripe for the judgments which God will surely send. God executes His counsel, but we bring His judgments upon ourselves by our transgression of this commandment. We must be submissive to all in authority over us. That applies also to the children in school. They must submit themselves to those who instruct them, and honour their teachers. Fathers and mothers, let us impress it upon our children that they must obey their teachers. The children owe them love and honour. God has placed them there in His discretion, and they are God's government over the children. It is no small matter that every day anew, we entrust our children to their care for so many hours. You ought to consider these matters carefully in order to stir up interest among yourselves for our schools and for our own kind of instruction. This commandment applies also in church life, even though matters in church life are entirely different from those in civil and social life. In church life God has given power to His servants and other officers. The elders are ordained to oversee the church. The elders' office is the kingly office. But the power they exercise is a ministerial power, that is, they have no authority over the congregation. They may not command; they may not make rules other than those the King Himself commanded. For what are we all? Nothing but servants; servants of Zion's great King. But those servants are called by Him to be watchmen upon the walls of Zion. What was the great privilege of David, and what made him differ from Saul? David was a servant and knew himself to be a servant of the Lord. With Saul it was not so. Saul considered himself a sovereign lord and could not wait upon God. It is clearly seen in the life of Saul that he sought his own honour, especially after his victory over Amalek. David's attitude was quite different. Read all his psalms and you will see that he knew himself to be a servant of Zion's King. David always pointed upward. God had anointed for Himself a king over Zion, the mountain of God's holiness. In God's church all power is a ministerial power, in subjection to the sovereign rule of King Jesus. The Lord exercises that authority through His servants. From my youth I have borne the burden of bitter contention among our congregations, that nothing in our church life shall have any weight but the Word of Zion's eternal King. The congregations will have rest and peace when we live according to the commandment of the King, exercising the power given us in His Name. We may not act arbitrarily, or according to our own fancies. We are to act only according to the written word and the ordinances based upon it. In this way the congregations receive guidance and experience growth. Church government as practiced in consistory, classis and synod is scriptural which makes it necessary for the congregations to submit to admonition and censure simply because God Himself ordained it so. All human authority is utterly null and void in the church. We may try to take the reins of government in our own hands and laugh at God's ordinances, but we must consider that the day is coming when God will laugh at our calamity and mock when our fear comes. God is jealous of His honour and will give it to no man, however high he may be. Honour thy father and thy mother and all who are placed in authority over us in the broadest sense of the term. It concerns social, political and church life. It concerns our families, our teachers. It applies to all situations in which we meet people whom God has clothed with authority over us. II We come now to the discussion of our second main thought the content of this commandment. What does God require in the fifth commandment? What is the content of it? That I show all honour, love and fidelity to my father and mother, and submit myself to their good instruction and correction with due submission; and also patiently bear with their weakness and infirmities. In the first place, we must honour them, esteem them highly and be filled with filial fear toward them. Let us begin once more with the family. If the children have no filial fear, no esteem, and father and mother are despised, what do we do with this commandment? Now continue this line of thought into social life and apply it to every area where we meet with authorities. If there is no respect for them, the fifth commandment is made null and void. God has clothed them with authority, and therefore we must honour and love those who are placed over us. Yes, love them. For in this word "love", the fulfillment of the whole law is expressed. There is no love in our hearts by nature. Since the fall we can do nothing but hate God and our neighbor. God by His common grace works love, so that this world should not become a cave of murderers, which it would become if God should give men over to themselves. Just think of the atrocities which are committed during war time. There are no words to describe them. They are not humane acts but acts of brutality. What is done in concentration camps, forced labor camps, and torture chamber is devilish. Now what does the Lord give so that He may fulfill His counsel unto the end of time? God works common love in our hearts, such as love of children for their parents. How privileged are those families in which love dwells and rules. There God Himself dwells, for God is love. What then does God require? That we love those who are in authority over us. We must not withdraw our hearts from our parents. We may not estrange ourselves from them, for then God gives us over to ourselves and the alienation becomes greater and greater. God requires also that there be mutual confidence and trust in social life between magistrates and citizens, and vice versa. Does it not seem that the whole world is preparing to sow hatred instead of bearing one another in love as God here requires? Further, we are to show faithfulness to those who are in authority over us. Let us begin again with the family. We must be ready at all times to assist Father and Mother in whatever circumstances they may find themselves. We see it all too often among our own people that Father and Mother are left with many cares because the children neglect their parents. They are jealous of other families which, in their opinion, have much more than they. They wish to take care of themselves first, and acquire a certain amount of wealth first. In the meantime, they allow their parents, who sacrificed everything for them when they were young, to live in want. The hearts of fathers and mothers are inclined to ask, "What can we do for our children?" Parents do not ask what their children can do for them, but conversely, what they can do for their children. It is their hearts' desire to sacrifice themselves for the children. On the other hand God demands of children that they are faithful to their parents when they can no longer work and earn their living. In such circumstances children must freely and generously assist them and not let them struggle along with the few dollars of their old age pension. It is also a matter of duty for citizens to show faithfulness to the magistrates. Think of Ahithophel who conspired with Absalom; but the Lord turned his counsel into foolishness and he hanged himself. Think of Gehazi, who deceitfully accepted a gift from Naaman the Syrian. Gehazi was unfaithful, and in his greed he acted deceitfully. How dreadfully he was punished in his seed forever! We must be loyal to our government. In this connection think of what is going on in the Dutch East Indies. What is happening there? Briefly stated, a revolution is unfolding. It is being published in terms such as these: Have those native inhabitants no right to full liberty? Why must they be under Netherland's rule? What is meant is that we should surrender those people to Communism, who in the providence of God have for centuries been under our rule. This would reduce and oppress them, although it now casts itself in the role of a champion for liberty. Therefore it is the calling of the government as well as of the citizens to stand shoulder to shoulder. When the government calls, we must go. When the government calls our boys, it is with a heavy heart that I see them leave. Nevertheless, let no one say, "I refuse, and withdraw myself". We ought not to withdraw or go into hiding. We should obey the government which calls upon us to defend our rights and what is more, to defend our people, who otherwise would be surrendered to the power of revolutionaries. We must also in obedience, submit to the punishment of the government. Father and Mother punish the children when they have done wrong. They must punish with seriousness and understanding. In this connection we think of Eli, who did not even frown upon his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Take your children aside and admonish them in love. Then you will see how much effect your word has. At heart they will agree if you admonish them seriously and emphatically. In this way children are to submit themselves to the chastisements of the parents. What a great respect David had for Saul, when he would not lay his hand on the Lord's anointed. We are obliged to be in subjection to the government at home, in society, in church and in civil life. God demands that we honour, love, show faithfulness and submit to the due correction of all in authority over us. Upon what grounds does God demand such humble submission? Since it pleases God to govern us by their hand. This is the third point which we must still discuss. III Already in the beginning of this sermon I pointed out briefly that God governs us by means of rulers and by means of our parents; He governs by means of the employer and of the teacher. Man did not establish these institutions himself. God has instituted authority in the world by means of men who are full of shortcomings. The instructor also says that we must patiently bear with their weaknesses and infirmities. It is needful for subjects and children, employees and church members to bear patiently with the weakness of those who are in authority over them. In our most dreadful fall it was our desire to cast off all authority. It was our desire to be as God, knowing good and evil. This is the same as being free from all authority. It was the root of the fall by which we rejected God's government and chose to be our own lord and master. This was the beginning of revolution, and the revolution of today has the same objective. Revolution says, "Away with all authority; the people are lord and master. We will have nothing to do with anyone, and will keep the reins of government in our own hands".* It is very necessary, especially for the youth, to see this and to understand it. The revolutionary system is diametrically opposed to God's Word and ordinances. Let us take our stand upon the basis of God's Word. It is God's will to govern us by the hand of our rulers. But it is the Lord Himself who stands above all rulers. He alone clothes men with authority. When children rebel against the authority of their parents and walk in the imagination of their own hearts, what will become of the family? And if the rulers refuse to obey God, what can be expected of the people? Such a government loses the respect of the people, and the people follow its example. Then all the foundations of society are undermined and the love for our rulers grows cold. We love our queen, not because she is an exemplary and god fearing woman, but because it pleases God to govern us by her hand. God has used the House of Orange for the good of our people from the earliest days of our nation. Therefore our love for the House of Orange is in our very blood. We owe that love also to all those who are in authority. It grieves me and fills me with fear when I see the affairs of state going in the wrong direction, and when God is banished out of the land. They who forsake God will suffer many sorrows. This demand comes also to the government itself, requiring it to submit to God's commandment. This is stated in Article 36 of our Confession of Faith. Abide by that. Our forefathers cited the examples of the kings of Israel given in Scripture, to show that it is the duty of magistrates to rule in such a way that God is honored and worshiped by all, as He commands in His Word. We honour our magistrates because God governs us by their hand. When forty-two children mocked the prophet of the Lord, bears came out of the woods and tore them in a moment. Then think of Absalom over whom David mourned, saying, "O Absalom, my son, my son! would God I had died for thee". The Lord brought the life of this disobedient son to a sudden end. It pleases God to govern us by the hand of our parents and all who are in authority over us, as by His own hand. Children, Absalom is given us for an example. God calls the rulers to guide the people according to His Word. Their authority is described for us very clearly by what the Lord Himself says of Abraham in Genesis 18:19. "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment." Consider also the form for the administration of baptism, in which the parents are asked whether they promise and intend to see each of their children instructed and brought up in the aforesaid doctrine or help or cause them to be instructed therein. The words, "or help", occur in the original version. That help was not asked of the parents, but of the witnesses who formerly came to the baptism with the parents, and helped the father and mother to instruct the children in the true doctrine. We no longer have witnesses. But this I would say with emphasis, that Father and Mother must always be the first to bear the responsibility for the education of their children. Therefore I want to see our children go to our own schools. Let our children walk a little distance, and put forth some effort to be instructed in the true doctrine. I do not say this merely to plead for our own schools, but I have learned by experience what a deep impression the Word of God has made upon the hearts of some of our little children. I have met with some who still speak of the impressions which they had received when they were six or seven years old and could never forget. Never say, "They are only children; just let them go for a while. That kind of instruction can come later". Oh no, the truth which is after godliness must be taught to our children from their earliest youth. From his childhood Timothy had known the holy scriptures. Let our children receive the truth from their very infancy. As they grow up, do not permit them to read all sorts of evil books and become familiar with all the things of the world. I say again in the interest of our children, bring the truth to them in their early youth in such a way that they can understand it. Take, for example, that precious little book of Ledeboer which is so understandable for children. When the first impressions are made in their hearts, they will not soon be erased. Let us teach our children at an early age, to be submissive to those who are in authority. Let our boys and men obey the government even when it calls to war. We must follow our government and not rise up personally against those that rule over us. Calvin already taught this on the basis of God's Word. The Seven United Netherlands showed it in the Eighty Years War. That war was not a revolutionary war against the king of Spain, but a war of independence for the rights and privileges of the Protestant people, who were oppressed by the king of Spain as a tool of Rome. What is more, that war was for the honour and glory of God, and the truth of His eternal testimony. If there are any of our boys who like to do research, let them read the testimony which Truin, an unbelieving liberal historian gives on this Eighty Years War. Hold fast to the truth against all those new and unsound ideas that undermine the Word of God and disregard the guidelines it gives us for our lives. Read that excellent book by Groen Van Prinsterer which stresses the fact that this war was a battle for the honour of God and the liberty of conscience. Thus you see the basis of this commandment, established by God; namely, that it pleases God to govern us by the hand of our rulers. This in turn gives us the firm basis for our submission to the authorities which are placed over us, and for our patience with their infirmities. It is impropriety on our part to say, "How can our government enact such laws?" In our irritation and our rebellion we only make matters worse. We must be silent and acknowledge that God demands our submission to them, because it pleases Him to govern us by their hand. Consider the great example which we have in Christ. He is not only the Redeemer and Mediator to blot out the transgressions of His people, but He is also the example which is given to His church. It is written of Him Who is the eternal Son of God, equal to the Father in every respect, and God from eternity to eternity, that He in His human nature and the same time true and eternal God, was subject to Joseph and Mary. He is Creator of heaven and earth, but He was subject to men and obeyed Joseph and Mary who cared for Him. Yes, He was obedient to His Father unto death, even the death of the cross. This obedience of Christ was also substitutionary for His people, to atone for their disobedience. It was done by Him who knew and did no sin. He was subject to sinful men. Is this not an example for His people? Shall they not live and walk according to His pure commandments? Come, let us sing of it from Psalter No. 40: 2, 3. "His precepts are righteous and just, Rejoicing the heart and the mind; And all His commandments are pure, Enlightening the eyes of the blind." "The fear of the Lord is most clean, Forever unmoved it has stood; His judgments are perfectly true, In all things most righteous and good." I have not much more to say about the spirit of revolution that is revealing itself everywhere. I need not say much more about Socialism and Communism, or whatever other name you can give to all those who reject authority. All these movements are contrary to the law of God. Rulers reign by the grace of God. Against them the power of revolution will reveal itself more and more, and a severe struggle will follow for all those that love the truth. Boys, when you go to the factory or to the office, or attend school; girls, as you leave your parental home, remember that God says in His Word, "Honour thy father and thy mother". Honour your magistrates; have patience with their infirmities. We have reason to weep over the fall of our ruling family. Where are the Calvinists among them? Where is their good example in obeying God's commandments? What do you think we can expect if we persist in this way? When the people of God receive liberty and opening in prayer, they should carry these needs upon their hearts regularly. I say this because of the terrible danger I see coming for the church. Let us urge one another to keep the ordinances of the Lord. The officers in church should constantly encourage and exhort one another to act as watchmen upon Zion's walls, not to be rigorous and legalistic, but to rule with a ministerial power. Remember, God will require this at our hands. Congregation, submit yourselves to their admonitions. Do you know what a minister must always seek to do? To convince you from the Word of God. Otherwise there will arise a justifiable complaint, "You are fighting for yourself, or for the church". Everyone must submit to God's Word. We have met some, when they were about to be placed under censure, withdrew from the congregation so that they would not be subject to excommunication, which would have taken place; for we must keep the ordinances of the King. Under such circumstances one can leave the church, but God's judgment will follow. God will punish those who forsake the church. Let us obey God's Word, living and walking according to it. Children, take heed, that you do not curse father and mother for your lamp will be put out in obscure darkness. You are to show love to father and mother. Notice: not only to mother, and not only to father, but you are to honour both parents, and not withhold your love from them. Children can do so at times. Then they become obstinate and rebellious. Children, nothing grieves your father and mother more than your withholding your love from them. Give heed to these my admonitions. Do not say: Why may I not do this and that when others may? The reason is that father and mother want to lead you according to God's Word. In case they try to draw you away from God's Word, you may not obey them, but in matters agreeing with God's Word, you must show proper obedience and submission to your parents' commands. You have only to listen to what your parents tell you. Turmoil and opposition in the home should not be heard of. There should be no quarreling between parents and children. Children, let it be sufficient when your parents say, "I would not do it." Punishment should not be necessary. When your father and mother who love you must use the rod, they suffer inwardly much more than you do outwardly. It is the hardest work for parents to do. It is necessary also, fathers and mothers, that you provoke not your children to wrath. You must indeed keep them from the world and sinful pleasures. You must see to it that they do not come home late at night when you do not know what they are doing. But you must guide them with discretion so that soon, when they come of age, they do not say, "Now it is enough, now I shall go my own way." Are your children a burden to you or a joy? Do you fully appreciate the blessing which comes with children in a happy marriage? I know that is outmoded to think so in our days, but I speak according to God's Word. Moreover, the largest families enjoy the greatest blessings. Teach your children in a simple way the first beginnings of the truth. No matter how small they may be, they like to have you tell them that they must be converted as you tell them the Bible stories. They ask you to tell them. At school they are taught the same truths, but the teachers are as unable to convert your children as you. The question is, do you bow your knees in secret to ask the Lord for it? Do we lay the needs of our children before the Lord? If you may do so openly, there will be formed such a bond of unity between you and them that they will show you honour and love. But if you dislike these cares, and seek to escape them by going out at every opportunity, you will forfeit the love and affection of your children. A devoted mother wants to be at home with her children. Fathers, do not say too hastily that you are not a housewife when at times the mother's task is too much for her alone. Then you are obliged to assist her. Be helpers one to another, especially in the education and bringing up of the children. It may be that the Lord will give His blessing which will lead to true conversion. Where there is harmony there is a great blessing. Thereby we learn to bear one another in love, and have patience with each other's infirmities. Little children, older children, and in-laws, does the thought arise quite often in your minds that the ideas of your father and mother are old fashioned? Do you have entirely different views about everything? Remember, it is incumbent upon you to have respect for their admonitions and for what they tell you from their own experiences. May all of us be given the privilege to find in Him who was subject to Joseph and Mary, the forgiveness of all our sins, including the sin against this commandment. Christ humbled Himself so deeply that He bowed under the law. In this way He made reconciliation for the sins of His people. This is the root principle from which the entire third part of thankfulness must be explained. For we shall never have anything to offer to God. On the contrary, in the beginning of their way, God's people learn to know themselves as guilty and lost creatures, and as they advance in years, they learn it more and more. In their own esteem they become transgressors of all God's commandments. To that same degree they find atonement in the blood of Christ, in His Mediatorial work and deep humiliation. Into these He also leads His church. There is only one absolute Sovereign and that is God. Nevertheless, what rebellion can there be against God at times in the hearts of God's children. How angry do they become against the Lord, and how disobedient to His commandments. Sometimes their love to the Lord seems altogether cold. But the commandment remains: Honour thy father and thy mother. Therein lies a reflection of the authority which God has over men and of the authority which God has over His people. Oh, let us admire the substitutionary obedience of Christ, which stands over against all the shortcomings of God's people taken together, including those of their youth, their further earthly relationships, their political and church life, in order that they may find reconciliation in Him Who became the Surety for His entire church, for their furtherance through some exercises in sanctification so that the Lord might be glorified in their lives. There will then be found the bonds of love of which the poet sang: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity". God Himself grant that this commandment may be kept, so that the people of God may become pillars of support for our country to oppose the spirit of the times, knowing definitely Whom they shall choose, namely Him according to Whose commandments and ordinances they wish to live and walk. Then, in word and deed they will exert an influence over others. Then, however anxious these revolutionary times may become, there will be a remnant in whom the fear of God dwells. May the Lord have mercy on His church; may He build the walls of Zion, and cause us to submit to the authority of His everlasting Word, for everyone must and shall one day bow to that word. A minister must submit to it; the elders must submit to it, because only the King of the church has authority and he ordains what shall be done in the church. Sometimes I think: How great is the Lord's goodness toward us in that He still gives peace and rest among us so long as His Word is maintained. Personally I have received strength from the thought, "Though the whole world be turned upside down, the Word of God stands". All who oppose that Word will certainly be destroyed. On the other hand, a long life is promised to those who keep God's commandment regarding obedience to those who are in authority. This means that it is a terrible judgment when God suddenly takes away the life of a man in his wickedness. It happens also that God takes some of His children to Himself early in life. This is not contrary to the promise mentioned. If the Lord does not let all His children live to be eighty years of age, it does not make His promise void; for He takes them up in His glory and they are taken home for ever. But God's judgment is revealed when He suddenly cuts off the life of the wicked as a cluster of grapes. To His people He shows His favors and gives His blessings, so that they may use and enjoy them with the full right which they have received in Christ, even to temporal goods. Even the little that the righteous have is much greater than the abundance of the wicked. The psalmist sang: "Thy loving kindness is better than life". May God's children by a careful observance of God's laws hallow and fear His Name so that the Lord may be glorified in them. Amen. Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2 (continued in part 13...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: krhc2-13.txt .