Some years ago, a large parcel of property was donated to our church on which to construct a new worship center. Surveyors were hired to lay out the boundaries of the property. They peered through their instruments, waved their arms at one another and recorded numerous measurements. Finally, they pounded several long, colored, wood stakes into the ground and informed us that the survey was completed. They handed the building chairman a preliminary report, saying that the survey would be recorded and stamped by the city, county and state officials, after which several copies would be mailed to the church. They also advised us not to remove the survey stakes, since doing so would require another survey, should we or adjoining property owners again need to assess the exact boundaries of the property.
The Biblical definition of the word "landmark" is that which we generally understand by the word. It is a boundary marker. According to Webster, a landmark is any mark or fixed object used to designate the boundary of land. It could be a marked tree, a stone, a ditch, or a heap of stones. For someone to remove them was a violation of the Law of Moses. The word "landmark" is used five times in the Bible. Each time, it is attached to statements that underscore that landmarks were not to be moved. They were to be considered sacrosanct. A curse was pronounced on those who dared move them. The Old Testament prohibited the removal of a neighbor's landmark: In Deuteronomy 19:14, Moses commanded Israel, "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance." So sacrosanct did Moses consider landmarks that he pronounced a curse against any Israelite who moved his neighbor's landmark: "Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor's landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen" (Deuteronomy 27:17). Many generations later, the writer of Proverbs 22: 28 reinforced the prohibition against the removal of the ancient landmarks by stating, "Remove not the old landmarks, which thy fathers have set." The Romans also considered landmarks sacred. Anyone convicted of moving one was executed.
Job's Lament for the Removal of Old Landmarks.
Job is upheld in the Bible as an example of an almost infinite patience in suffering. Though he endured all the afflictions that God permitted Satan to cast upon him, some 1520 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, he lamented the some were removing the old landmarks. In Job chapter 24, this removal of landmarks heads the lists of sins Job ascribed to his generation. In verse two, he charges, "Some remove the old landmarks." and follows this accusation by recording sins of violence, robbery, oppression of the poor, murder, and many others crime. Yet, so sacred did Job consider old landmarks, that he headed this list of sins with that of their removal.
The Importance of Landmarks.
Landmarks are important because they define boundaries, but they do more than that. In a free definition of the word we also use landmarks to define locations. As we travel we often use landmarks as points of reference to prevent loosing our way.
For example, "To get to the J. McStranger's house, drive down Town Line Road to the third crossroad. There's no road sign there, but you can't miss it. Just look for a large, red barn on the left corner. You'll also notice an old, rusty tractor parked in the field next to it. On the other side of the road you'll see a boarded-up, dilapidated, one-room schoolhouse. Make a left turn into that road and then go three miles. The McStranger's home will be to your right. It's a beige house with green shutters, and right across the road is a convenience store." We have just set directional landmarks for the traveler who was looking for the McStranger residence.
When I was studying for the ministry, the students often sang a favorite chorus, the first line of which was: "I'm traveling to my home way up in heaven and Jesus travels by my side." God's people are travelers. Jesus posted old directional landmarks for us to follow to insure we are traveling the right road. He did so to assist us in differentiating between the right and wrong roads. He warned that the correct road leading to eternal life is entered by a narrow gate, while the gate to the wrong road leading to destruction is a wide one (Matthew 7:13-14).
Old landmarks that identify the road leading to life.
1. The road leading to the eternal life is entered by a gate, but so is the road leading to destruction.
Matthew 7:13-14: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
2. Jesus directed us to the narrow gate as a directional landmark (Matthew 7:13-14).
3. Jesus directed us to enter the landmark narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14).
Some ancient religions employed priests who were called "gate-keepers." They supposedly held the keys to the mysteries of those religions. Spiritually, those gates were wide because the rituals were licentious, full of lust and carnality. Even today, there are many gate-keepers pointing to the wide gate under the direction of their master, Satan. Jesus stated that many are entering through Satan's wide gate. It's a popular and well-used one.
During the Second World War, English speaking Germans soldiers disguised as in American Military Police, switched road signs and then stood at the road junctures directing Allied troop traffic and sending them in the wrong direction. As intended, this caused confusion among the Allied troops, until the ploy was discovered and remedied. As stated in the Bible, Satan sometimes disguises himself as an angel of light with the intent of deceiving God's people into taking the wrong road - the wide one. We must be aware of this ploy.
Not long ago, the pastor of a large church stated, "If we want large churches, we must sacrifice quality. We can't make demands and set requirements on people." There has also been an increase in ads from churches claiming to conduct "seeker sensitive" worship services. Several months ago, a national, secular magazine published an article vaunting one such "seeker sensitive' church. In some five years, the church mushroomed from some 200 to over 10,000 in attendance; however, it takes no doctrinal stand. It gives people what they're comfortable with hearing and doing. It calls for no commitment. It attempts to bring no conviction. It demands no change of heart or life. It's the religious version of the computer axiom: "garbage in; garbage out." The idea is to get people to attend church without fear of being convicted of sin, even though conviction of sin is one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit - one of the old abandoned landmarks of the Church.
Jesus, knowing His time on earth was limited, informed his disciples that one of the duties of the coming Holy Spirit was to convict the world of sin. "And when he is come, he will reprove (convict, convince) the world of sin" (John 16:8). Convicting humanity of sin is among the Holy Spirit's most essential duties on earth. It is a church's obligation to allow Him to fulfill this task. When we attempt to make sinners spiritually comfortable in our services, we endeavor to widen the narrow gate, which is not possible. What we actually do is make it easier for sinners to continue down the wide road to destruction.
John Bunyan, the poverty-stricken, Puritan tinker, penned his classic, "Pilgrim's Progress," while languishing for twelve years in a squalid, polluted Bedford, England jail for the sake of his faith. In his masterpiece, Bunyan described Pilgrim arriving at the gate of the Heavenly City. Not only did he find that the gate was narrow, it also was extremely low. Above it was inscribed, "They who enter here must stoop," exemplifying that humility is a landmark on the road to the Heavenly City.
If sinners are unwilling to stoop to enter the narrow gate, no number of seeker sensitive gimmicks will prevent them from severely bruising their pride when seeking to pass through it, for the narrow gate is Jesus Christ, himself. In John 3:16, He declared, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the father, but by me."
They who choose to come to the Father through Jesus must humbly stoop as their Lord did when He condescended to take the form of a man to endure the cross for our redemption.
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