Ancient Landmarks
by Heath Rogers

There are a handful of passages in the Old Testament that refer to landmarks which the Children of Israel were to respect. The first of these passages is found in Deuteronomy 19:14. "You shall not remove your neighbor's landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess."

When Canaan was conquered, the land was distributed to tribes and families by allotment. This was the will of God. Each person was to respect the property belonging to everyone else. These landmarks Moses spoke of were stones or posts which marked these original property boundaries. Today, property lines are filed with the county auditor's office, and any dispute over property lines can usually be settled by looking at these records. There were no such records in ancient times, only landmarks. These landmarks could be moved, which would result in the theft of property.

Proverbs 22:28 warns, "Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set." Respect was to be given, both to the property of one's neighbor, and to the action taken by their fathers in distributing this land.

Moses pronounced a curse on one who would move his neighbor's landmark (Deut. 27:17). Proverbs 23:10-11 warns, "Do not remove the ancient landmark, nor enter the fields of the fatherless; for their Redeemer is mighty; He will plead their cause against you." Instead of a penalty, there is a warning and a curse pronounced against the one who would dare to take such action against his neighbor. The idea is that such a crime would sometimes go unnoticed because the landmarks would be moved slowly over time, or that land would be snatched away by force from those who were powerless to defend themselves. One may "get away with it" here and now, but would eventually pay the price for such action when they faced the Lord in judgment.

These warnings against removing ancient landmarks provide an important lesson for us today. The word of God establishes boundaries. When we surpass or go beyond these boundaries we sin. "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son" (2 John 9). Some are not content to abide within God's word. They want to move these boundaries to accommodate their own desires.

The Lord has long ago established His law regarding marriage. According to Jesus, marriage is to be between one man and one woman for life (Matt. 19:4-6). Today, same-sex unions are being recognized by many states in our country. It appears the next "landmark" to be moved will be the legal recognition of polygamy.

Multitudes of people have moved God's law regarding what one must do in order to be saved. The Lord and His apostles taught one must believe (John 8:24), repent of his sins (Luke 13:3), confess his faith (Rom. 10:9-10), be baptized (Mark 16:16) and remain faithful in order to be saved in Heaven (Rev. 2:10).

Many brethren are not content with the blueprint the Lord has established for the work, worship and organization of the church. The "landmarks" have been moved ever so slightly over time so that today we have fellowship halls, gymnasiums, daycare centers, food pantries, instrumental music and women preachers in some churches of Christ.

Remember, the removal of an ancient landmark was an act of theft against one's neighbor and an expression of disrespect against God. It is no different today. When we fail to abide within the boundaries set forth by God's word, we are attempting to steal His authority (His right to establish and enforce the boundaries set forth in His word). Cursed be the man who disrespects God's authority.