From the “Sayings of the wise,” in Proverbs (22:28), we read, “Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.” A chapter in Beth Moore’s Breaking Free, “The Ancient Boundary Stone,” reinforces the concept of honoring cultural heritage, while being mindful of how a nation’s history can hold a people in bondage.
David, in II Samuel (12:1-15), broke several of God’s commandments by engaging in a carnal relationship with Bathsheba. David displaced an Ancient Boundary Stone, and was confronted by the Prophet Nathan, at God’s request. Nathan required courage and tact to apprise David of his sins.
Nathan relates, in II Samuel (12:4), that “A traveler who came to the rich man who refrained from taking one of his sheep or cattle to feed the traveler, and instead took the lamb that belonged to the poor man and gave it to ‘the traveler.’” I confess to being baffled by Nathan’s parable, and “the traveler’s” identity. A member of my Bible study class illuminated me. The traveler was sin, who came to visit David’s palace as well as to the rich man’s home.
In Exodus 20:5, in the New International Version, we find, “Punishing the children for the sins of the fathers…,” The King James Version reads, “Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children…” The Hebrew word, “pagadh” is closer in meaning to “making a call,” as would a visitor. Sin travels into our lives, and if we answer the door, it can enter and take up residence. We must not show sin any hospitality, but must tell it to go.
God gave Israel, a traveling people who were former slaves, the Ten Commandments to guide and keep them free.
Nathan related to David the Lord’s words in II Samuel 12:11, “because of your sins, Out of your own household I will bring calamity upon you.”
Those who move family boundary stones are destined to return themselves and their generations to slavery. We see how alcoholism, a traveler, visits future offspring. It can visit (not punish) for centuries.
Nathan saw that life beyond the boundary stones leads to bondage, and bondage to sin, with repeated sin leading to deeper enslavement—a cycle only broken by those brave enough to act and to move within the boundary stone limits created by God.
What does it take to force “the traveler” to move on? It takes facing and delivering the truth with courage, skill and tact.
Jesus, in Matthew (6:13), in the Lord’s Prayer, asked God to, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” Let’s be clear here: Christ is not saying that God leads us into temptation, but rather that He sometimes allows us to be tested by it.
Jesus teaches us that God gives and forgives. But we cannot be blessed as long as sin, “the traveler,” rules our house. Why? Because God is a jealous God, and He will not reside in a house with two masters. Until we turn away from sin, and from our idol gods, and turn to and serve Him only, God will hold back His blessings.
We must insist that “the traveler” leave us and move on! And then we must return to its proper place God’s Ancient Boundary Stone, to become free and blessed in Christ!
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami. To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at firstname.lastname@example.org.