Proverbs 22:28, Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
Special Lesson in Adult Sunday School Class in View of 50th Anniversary of Grace Bible Church
Ludwig Opager, Teacher
I want to talk today about landmarks because on August 5th in the year 2001 of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Grace Bible Church is completing its 50th year of service to God.
Every anniversary of anything is in a way a landmark because it proclaims anew the purpose of that which is being celebrated or recognized.
Those who marry celebrate every year the memory of vows made and in that celebration those vows are proclaimed afresh.
We made it though another year, I guess we can do another both parties announce!
Every year the landmark of marriage should be sunk deeper and every year that landmark should become more secure and unmovable.
The landmark of our 50th is such as to proclaim to future generations what God has done here.
It is to expect from our grandchildren the same question as that which was asked by the children of Israel.
When the children of Israel came upon the stones that were piled up after they were removed from the middle of a dry Jordan they would ask, What mean ye by these stones?
Then Joshua instructed them to tell the children: Ö.. That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
The recognition and marking of these fifty years is a landmark worth remembering and recording so that those who come after us will know what God had wrought in this place.
A landmark cannot be ignored.
An answer must be given to a landmark.
The burden of a landmark must be observed or the burden of the landmark must be ignored.
But a decision is called for observe or ignore.
The sign upon the fence calls for No Trespassing.
That fence, with its warning sign, is a landmark that calls for a decision.
Will I obey or will I not obey.
Will I stay on my side of the fence or will I go where I have been told not to go?
55 MPH cries the speed limit sign. That is a landmark.
Will I obey or will I not obey.
Most of us donít and those who obey are called slow pokes or other more descriptive names.
Landmarks are there to remind us that something is called for here.
It may be a fence, it may be a corner post, it may be a pile of a stones built by Joshuaís command.
We have had many landmarks laid for us in this church in the last 50 years.
If things change in the next 50 years those who come ahead will have to address these landmarks and make a decision, shall I observe this ancient landmark or shall I refuse to recognize what God has wrought here.
But the landmarks have been set and will face those who come ahead.
There are four verses in scripture that contain the word landmark and one in the book of Job that uses the plural landmarks.
Deuteronomy 19:14, Thou shalt not remove thy neighbourís landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.
Deuteronomy 27:17, Cursed be he that removeth his neighbourís landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Proverbs 23:10-11, Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.
Proverbs 22:28, Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
So God emphatically instructs us not to remove an ancient landmark.
Ancient landmarks are meant to be kept intact and not be messed with.
He says that anyone who removes his neighbor's landmark is to be cursed.
And not only that, men are to always declare that that command is truth for Amen means truth. And all the people shall say, Amen.
(You could as correctly say truth as to say Amen when the preacher preaches.)
Now a landmark, as commonly known, is a mark which designates the boundary of land, it may mark any fixed object, as a tree, a stone, a ditch, or a heap of stones that defines the limits of a farm or a town or any piece of property.
It is a fixed object not to be removed so as to avoid confusion.
Landmarks dispel confusion, they to not cause confusion.
We are told not to remove ancient landmarks.
This word ancient means properly concealed.
It has reference to a vanishing point, generally from a time far out of mind.
It has a nearness to eternity.
It is not about temporary landmarks like a surveyorís stake but it is about landmarks that have a longstanding status as landmarks.
It is about things that have stood the test of time. Like Godís word.
Landmarks that have stood the test of time and attempts to change them have been unsuccessful.
And if change is tried much conflict results.
God has been gracious to my wife and me in allowing us to be stewards of a sizable piece of property on which He has given us a comfortable home.
The property is almost square, the north and south sides being equally 559.85 feet, and the east and west sides being equally 565.30 feet which defines 7.265 acres.
For most of the time that we have held the deed to the property three sides were unfenced, and the east side was fenced, but you can be sure that I knew where the corner markers were or where they were supposed to be.
I knew, but I wasnít sure my neighbors knew, and with unfenced land a land owner is always on guard to see to it that his land is not compromised.
On the survey of our property two corners are marked with symbols, B.D.E Capped Rod, (Set) Typ.
The other two corners are marked B.D.E. Concrete monument (Found) Typ.
In this survey two corners were found to have ancient landmarks consisting of concrete monuments, and two corners required new landmarks which were steel rods driven into the ground.
Also on the survey map is a measurement of 504.10 feet from the northwest corner of section 27, township 2N, Range 28W in a direction of South 03 degrees, 19í 22" West to the point of beginning of our land.
That point of beginning is one of our corners that the surveyors found to be a concrete marker previously placed some long time ago.
Surveyors delight in finding concrete markers that another in the brotherhood of surveyors has placed long ago.
It brings them comfort unless it is so far away from their measurements as to bring doubt in their work.
But it does cause them to be careful when contemplating the changing of a previously placed marker.
Our land has some drawbacks as most land does in that it is bordered on one and a half sides by clay pits.
And with the roadwork that is presently going on you can imagine the noises and dust that surround our home on some days that the clay pits are operated.
But several years ago there was a tragic accident in East Milton resulting in the death of three childen in a clay pit.
As they were playing under a wall of clay they were covered by a great amount of falling clay which suffocated them quickly.
It was inevitable for this tragic event to happen in Santa Rosa County because there was no fence ordnance in effect requiring fences around clay pits.
But it took the lives of three small children for the county commission to enact a law requiring clay pits to be fenced.
Iím getting close to the point of this story. Be patient!
One day while outside of the house I heard activity taking place on the south side of our property and as an alert landowner always does, I walked though the woods to see what was taking place.
God is good to me and it was by His providence that I observed what was going on while it was going on.
It is always easier to change things while things are going on then it is to change things after the fact.
I found that fence building on my south property line was going on.
And the going on of it was by the owner of the clay pit as he complied with the new fence law.
I sauntered over to the location of the activity on my south line and observed what they were doing and came to a quick conclusion.
They had already cleared trees from some of my land for a fence and were proceeding to erect it.
Now it is always difficult to approach working men if you are not helping in the work.
You always feel like an outsider and usually are treated like one.
So with this in mind I said to the fence men, What are you doing?
They looked at me as if I were some ninny because it was obvious what they were doing.
They knew what they were doing and so should I know what they were doing.
"We are building a fence around Mr. Joinerís clay pit."
"Well," I said, "You are building that fence on my land."
"No we are not," came the reply as all good fence men would say.
You certainly would not expect them to agree.
"We are joining your southwest corner to your southeast corner."
"Well," I said most politely, "While the corner on the west is my corner the corner on the east that you are joining is not my corner."
"My corner lies in the middle of your clay pit haul road and your trucks have been rolling over that corner for many years and Iíve not said a word."
"But now that you are building a fence I must say a word for your fence is within my land and it will keep my from a portion of my land."
They were building a landmark.
So because of my remark all fence building ceased and Mr. Joiner was called to come and face the music or rebut my claim.
Mr. Joiner came and said that he was right in putting the fence where he was putting it because he was joining two obvious points together, the established corner on the west, marked by that ancient concrete monument, and a big railroad tie corner post on the east.
Doesnít a big railroad tie corner post say something authoritative?
Isnít a big railroad tie impressive enough to communicate the authority of a landmark?
How could anybody argue with a big railroad tie.
A concrete monument on the west and a big railroad tie on the east.
How could Mr. Joiner be sitting more pretty?
Everybody knows that a railroad tie always defines a corner.
It is common knowledge!
But many times common knowledge is not truth.
And that common knowledge was not truth to me because I had the deed and I had in times past measured the east side of my property and I knew that the real corner was in the middle of the clay pit haul road.
That big railroad tie corner post did not scare me because I had the light of the approved survey.
I knew where the ancient landmark had been.
So we were at odds!
Did I immediately proceed to the house and get my pistol and force these land thieves off my land?
Hadnít they already bulldozed my trees?
Did I call the police to resolve what could have been a long drawn out process to get the fence removed?
Did I just insist that they do what I said and move the fence without any proof?
No, I said to Mr. Joiner, "Lets look at my survey and using the surveyorís measurements find out where the corner is."
And Mr. Joiner, being a reasonable man, agreed and we proceeded accordingly.
What did we do?
We went to an established landmark at the northeast corner in order to recover the southeast landmark long disappeared under the heavy weight of numerous trucks hauling clay from the pits.
We carefully measured the distance in one hundred foot increments and low and behold the final 65.30 foot measurement found us in the center of his truck haul road.
The matter was settled peacefully and without rancor, but with a little embarrassment on Mr. Joinerís part.
Why was it settled peacefully?
Because we re-established the ancient landmark and Mr. Joiner proceeded to move his road and to move his fence and I now had my property line established to my satisfaction.
All because we recognized the landmarks established by law and provided for in writing and because we both were law abiding people.
Because of the survey we rejected the big railroad tie as an ancient landmark and called it a fake because we knew the truth.
The scripture warns us and commands us to not remove the ancient landmark which our fathers have set.
How full is the scripture, how rich is every word of God.
Replacing a landmark which our fathers have set with a new landmark of our own making also constitutes a removal or rejection of an ancient landmark.
A rejection of an ancient landmark will always result in tragedy or disaster.
Second Special Lesson in View of 50th Anniversary of Grace Bible Church
Last week I talked about an experience I had concerning an error by a fence builder who followed a landmark that was a false landmark.
That false landmark was a good looking and very substantial, very powerful landmark and one that you would be proud of following.
Following such a landmark certainly seemed to be safe and one which would not bring shame.
That landmark was a corner post made from a big railroad tie in the upright position and by its might and strength it declared "I am the landmark to follow" and most reasonable people would simply go along and follow such a substantial landmark.
But the railroad tie was a false landmark in that it did not declare the proper location of the corner of my land and its acceptance by the fence builder resulted in a sizable amount of rework in relocating a fence placed on the wrong line.
The lesson is clear.
If you are going to follow a landmark you must be sure that the landmark is not a false landmark but a true landmark.
Now in the case of the railroad tie most likely that railroad tie was not placed there by a surveyor but was placed there by another fence builder.
One fence builder following another fence builder.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said it this way in Matthew 15:14, And if the blind lead the blind both shall fall into the ditch.
So decision making as to what is an honest landmark must be based upon trust in the landmark maker.
Upon what basis did the planter of that railroad tie plant the railroad tie?
What did he follow. Upon what did he base his decision?
If he did not base his decision upon the law of the land then his decision is hit or miss.
Did a surveyor determine the location based upon a deed of ownership?
When it comes to the trustworthiness of landmarks everything depends upon who placed the landmark.
Oh how we trust the Highway Department when we travel 70 MPH.
How we trust them to place curve signs on those portions of roads requiring a slower speed.
Those are landmarks that are placed there by the proper authority and can be trusted.
For observation of landmarks bring safety.
And the ancient landmarks that God has given have proven themselves worthy of trust.
Those ancient landmarks are places of safety.
And if we neglect those landmarks we place ourselves outside of a safe place and we know by faith what will befall those who place themselves outside of God.
So the ultimate landmark is the Word of God.
James 1:17, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
That is the characteristic of the ultimate landmark.
No variableness, neither shadow of turning.
So Godís word is the ultimate landmark to be observed.
Godís Word tells us to attend to His Word and to bow to His word and if we do, good things will happen.
That is the consistent message of the Bible; do this and do that and good results will come.
This is what faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is all about.
This is what trust in God is all about.
Believe God's landmarks and good results will follow.
Good things will come eventually.
For we know that Romans 8:28 says, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
God knows the end from the beginning and we too can know if we follow the landmarks of His word.
A surveyor can easily find the corners of a plot of land if he follows the written land description.
But without the written description he could spend a lifetime of trial and error if ever finding anything.
Our God is not a capricious or whimsical God trying to confuse us or put us to a test to see how clever we are in finding the way to Him.
God has no interest in our cleverness or our intelligence but only in our faith in following his landmarks.
And He has given us sufficient landmarks by which to live a holy and happy life.
He has given us Jesus Christ who is the ultimate landmark because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
He is fixed for the Word of God tells us the Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever.
That is what a surveyor is commissioned to do when he sets a landmark.
It is to be a landmark that is so constructed as to pass the test of time and to communicate truth to those who come after.
It stays there quietly until a searcher comes looking for it and then it does itís duty and provides safety to the one who honors it.
But today the efforts of man are to replace the landmark of the word of God with the big railroad tie of modern thinking.
Isnít the railroad tie of modern thinking just as good or better than the Word of God.
Look at how immense and impressive the railroad tie is and look at how puny and buried and out of sight the ancient landmark is.
That ancient landmark does not show itself like the big railroad tie shows itself.
The railroad tie of modern thinking is right there out in the open and can be seen while the stone or concrete monument that defines the corner is in the dirt, well hidden to the eye and a careful and diligent search must be done for it while the railroad tie is so available.
One is found by sight and the other to be found by faith.
Proverbs 2:1-6: tells us that the ancient landmark of the Word of God is not boldly presented as a railroad tie monument, it is not used to hit you over the head and make you comply, but it is hidden from the casual viewer as is the buried corner monument from the surveyor.
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
God chooses to hide his landmark from the casual eye in favor of the eye that evidences faith for faith is that which pleases God and God arranges everything so he is pleased.
He is the creator and creators have that right!
Remember how please God when he created all things.
Genesis 1:4, And God saw the light, that it was good:
10And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
12And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
18And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
21And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
25And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good
31And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
It is no wonder that man chooses the landmark that is easy to see and easy to find while rejecting the landmark that requires study and work and devotion and thought and above all, faith.
Man, in his sinful nature, always lives by sight and not by faith.
The faith landmark is hidden and requires a belief that it is there.
For God said it is there and if God said it is there that settles it.
But the railroad tie can be seen and no belief is required.
But if Godís landmarks are to be active in your life belief is required for without faith you cannot please God.
The Bible is replete with examples of Godís landmarks.
For God has filled His word with landmarks for our safety.
Joshua was a servant of the Lord and as a servant of the Lord he was about the business of making landmarks for the children of Israel to remember the goodness of God.
We read in: Joshua 4:1-5, And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priestsí feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night. Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: 6That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? 7Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
One from each tribe was to go get a stone from the dry bottom of the Jordan.
Everyone of the children of Israel was represented in that act.
This spoke of the fact that it was a responsibility of each of the children of Israel to place a stone as a landmark for future generations to know of the goodness of God.
Once the landmark was set never to remove a stone or never to add a stone.
Never to dilute the goodness of God but to proclaim the goodness of God.
Instead of the removal of the landmarks of the Word of God we are to reveal the landmarks so that our children will ask, What mean ye by these stones?
The lesson is clear.
Our lives are to be so arranged as to follow the landmarks of the Word of God so as to disclose to our children the same landmarks.
Our homes are to be such as to elicit the question: What mean ye by these stones?
Something is different in our house than in the house of our neighbor.
Why do you rear me like this?
Why am I expected to obey you in all things?
Why do we attend church so much not missing any of the services?
Why do I have to go to a Christian School and not attend school with my friends down the street?
Why is your conversation filled with references to the Bible?
Why do you read and study the Bible each day?
Why do we give thanks so much at the table and even when we eat out at a fine restaurant.
Why do I get a whipping so often when I just say a smart alecky thing back to mother and not do the things I am told to do?
What is this business about serving God and doing Godís will in my life instead of what everyone else is doing?
In the 31st chapter of the book of Proverbs we can find the instruction of a mother that would provide answers to questions such as these.
The answers come in the form of a prophecy by the mother of King Lemuel (lem-oo-ale'; or Lemow'el, lem-o-ale).
Even in the name this mother has laid a landmark in her sonís life because the name itself means "belonging to God."
That recognition that the son does not belong to the mother is the first landmark that must be placed if the son is to find answers to his questions.
She uses the word prophecy to describe what she is giving her son but in most places in scripture the Hebrew word that is translated prophecy in this verse is translated burden.
So what Lemuelís mother is doing is giving her son "word" burdens for him to carry thoughout his life.
Lam 3:27 says: It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
In other words it is good for a young man to bear burdens in his youth.
It is good for a young man to carry things.
It is good to put a load on a young man.
This is the essence of what Lemuel (lem-oo-ale) is talking about.
His mother put a load of words upon him.
He learned lessons from his mother and he now carries those lessons as king.
They are a burden to him in that sense.
Not a hard burden but a welcome burden, a good burden, because as with carrying any burden good results come because the burden was carried.
That is a mother's responsibility, to put a burden upon her children.
It is a mother's responsibility to load her children with words that stick with her children as they grow into manhood and womanhood.
Line upon line, precept upon precept, landmark upon landmark.
Concrete monuments imbedded in the soul so deep that they cannot be removed for the Bible says that we are to train up a child so that when he is old he will not depart from it.
That training is the landmark that we implant.
Loading lines upon other lines.
Piling precepts upon precepts upon our children as they were a burden.
It is not enough that a young man bear only physical burdens in his youth but it is paramount that his mother load him with the right mental desires, ie, burdens, that will keep him in the way he should go.
It is good that a young man bear the yoke, bear the burden in his youth.
Jesus Christ said in Matthew 11:30, For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
What is the burden of Christ? His burden is his word.
His word is light, not heavy and when applied to youth it is most light.
Training applied to youth is where training is most successful.
God's word applied to youth is where God's word is most successful.
That is the time of life when the burden is best introduced to the child.
These landmarks will provide a stability to their lives and will always come to mind in their adult years whenever they pause to consider the big railroad ties presented to them by the world.
In other words when they are equipped with the boundaries of the Word of God, when they are enclosed in the corner stones of the Word of God they are equipped to face the new landmarks of alternate lifestyles, abortion, living together in lieu of marriage, easy divorce, confusion of gender roles, destruction or dilution of authoritarian institutions, dilution of parental authority or any other so called new thing that comes along for in reality there is nothing new under the sun.
Proverbs 22:28, Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set.
The pioneers, as they trekked across the many miles of wilderness, looked for the landmarks that they had been told about.
The particular river, or the unusually shaped mountain or horizon.
They followed religiously the ruts in the trail where others had trod with their teams of horses and covered wagons.
Landmarks are also established boundaries designed to separate owners of land and to define the land area owned by each.
Each owner knew his place, his limits. Landmarks eliminate confusion because separation provides clarity and constants.
Ancient landmarks refer to marks that have the verification of time on their side.
They have stood the test of time and attempts to change them have been unsucessful. And if change is tried much conflict results.
Removing landmarks means falsifying surveys and stealing land.
This verse teaches respect of property rights.
From Webster's 1828 Dictionary: A mark to designate the boundary of land; any mark or fixed object; as a marked tree, a stone, a ditch, or a heap of stones, by which the limits of a farm, a town or other portion of territory may be known and preserved.
Other landmarks: Morality, tradition, customs which our fathers have established or followed.
These landmarks provide a stability to our lives and we need to be conservative and cautious before changing these values.
New landmarks which conflict with the ancient landmarks: Alternate lifestyles, abortion, living together in lieu of marriage, easy divorce, confusion of gender roles, destruction or dilution of authoritarian institutions, dilution of parental authority, revision of history and the effort to erase the scriptural connection of the founding of our country.