“Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.” (Proverbs 22:28)
When looking up the verse above for this article, I was surprised by how much the Bible had to say about these landmarks. The ancient landmarks were the boundaries that divided one man’s land from another and one tribe’s inheritance from that of another tribe.
These ancient boundaries provided a set of perimeters in which people could live their lives, raise their families, grow their crops, and enjoy the Lord’s blessings. Everything was fine, and the people enjoyed peace, until someone decided to move the lines.
When these ancient boundaries were tampered with, it constituted a violation and could potentially spark a war between neighbors and countrymen. Not only that, but it was an affront to God’s law given to promote a healthy society. To remove a landmark was to disregard the boundaries that God Himself had set for the people’s peace and prosperity. On the right side of the boundary was blessing, but on the wrong side of the boundary was a curse. “Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen! ’” (Deuteronomy 27:17).
It seems today that men are once again endeavoring to move the boundaries God has established for society. Whether our world likes it or not, there is little disputing the fact that civil societies are founded on the values reflected in the Word of God. It serves, in fact, as the moral foundation for our justice system. Right and wrong are not ambiguous concepts that can be rewritten at the whim of men who want to inch the old boundaries just north or south of where God has laid them. Truth does not swing back and forth like a pendulum simply because society decides at some point to endorse as good what God condemns as evil. Truth does not swing to the left or the right. It falls like a plumb line.
We understand setting boundaries when it comes to children. In fact, it has become cliché to talk about the out of control kid one sees at the Wal-Mart, or the parent who looks like they just fought World War II with their three year old, trying to get them to sit down and quit screaming in the shopping cart. We shake our heads and wonder why those parents don’t “lay down the law.” We understand with children that giving them whatever they want is not love but rather an unhealthy indulgence that will ultimately set them down a path of destruction.
However, when it comes to cultural mores, our society wants to shake itself free from the standards God has given us in His Word for what is good and what is evil. We applaud the “free thinker” who mocks established values. We laugh with the comedian who uses the Church or the Bible as fodder for his or her sardonic wit. Young people that hold to biblical values taught to them by parents are challenged by the university professor to shake off the shackles of “outdated” morality and embrace the new, progressive mindset that says men are to write their own code for life and conduct. Simple men and women, who hold to the same strong family values they learned from the previous generation are mocked, marginalized, and ridiculed routinely and with impunity by many in the media. God, however, is not without a response to this in His Word. He says, “The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark; I will pour out My wrath on them like water. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked by human precept” (Hosea 5:10-11 emphasis mine). In another place He says, “The kings of the earth prepare to fight, and their leaders make plans together against the LORD and his appointed one. They say, “Let’s break the chains that hold us back and throw off the ropes that tie us down.” But the one who sits in heaven laughs; the Lord makes fun of them.” (Psalm 2:2-4 NCV).
I would imagine that God’s reaction to the prevailing hostility exhibited by many toward His standards of right and wrong is similar to the one that makes us shake our heads at those out of control children we often see today. Men may scream and shake their fists at the heavens, but their frustration with God’s righteous standard doesn’t change what is right or wrong any more than a child pushing against the side of his house makes the world rotate in a different direction.
In the end, we need to realize that God did not put boundaries on men because He wanted to limit their fulfillment in life, but to protect them from the dangers that lay on the wrong side of the line. In fact, He sent His Son to die for us that His laws could be written on our hearts, not binding or restricting us, but bringing us into the glorious liberty that comes with knowing the love of a Father who cares for us enough to lead us away from harm.