************ Sermon on Hosea 5:10 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on October 13, 2002
"Those Who Move Boundary Stones"
Jeep has an advertisement highlighting the GPS system in its new cars. A guy and girl eye each other across a cafeteria. She writes something on a piece of paper, crumples it up, and drops it by the guy's feet as she walks by. He picks it up, smooths out the paper, and sees latitude and longitude written. He goes into his new Jeep, climbs up steep mountain roads, and by checking the GPS finds her at the exact location she had written down. Today, at least, computers and satellites are used to mark locations and boundaries.
I Physical Boundary Stones
A In Israel, the boundaries of each piece of land was marked by stones or landmarks. Don't forget, in those days very few properties had their boundaries marked with fences or walls. The land marked off was an inheritance from one's ancestors going all the way back to the division of the land in the days of Joshua (Josh 13-19).
Hosea talks this morning of those who move "boundary stones." Those who moved boundary stones would do so to enlarge the size of their own property. The net result, of course, was that they also reduced the size of their neighbor's property. This means that those who moved boundary stones stole from their neighbors.
It wasn't that hard to do. In fact, it was too easy to move one of the landmarks and set it in a different place. And, it must have happened quite often because many law codes in the Ancient World outlawed the removal of a landmark. Trying to take over someone else's inheritance was a very serious offense calling for severe punishment. The Old Testament was no exception. Listen to what it says:
(Deut 19:14) Do not move your neighbor's boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess.
(Prov 23:10) Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,
(Hosea 5:10) Judah's leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water.
(Cf Deut 27:17; Job 24:2; Prov 22:28)
B We need to understand the place of the allotment or inheritance in the land of Israel. The land assigned to each family was meant to be theirs forever. It guaranteed them a place in the land eternally. In fact, the land could not even be sold because it belonged to the Lord (Lev 25:23). It was only crop years until the next year of Jubilee that could be sold. There was a reason for this. God wanted everyone of His people to always have a place in the land and in the covenant. Also, God did not want any of His people to fall into such a desperate poverty that they no longer had food and drink.
Remember the story of Naboth and his vineyard? King Ahab wanted Naboth's vineyard to use for a vegetable garden since it was close to his palace. He offered to exchange it with a better vineyard or to pay Naboth more than it was worth. That sounds pretty fair to us. It even sounds like a good business deal for Naboth because he would come out ahead. But Naboth refused to sell his vineyard or to swap it for another. It was not because he was contrary or stubborn. It was not because he had no respect for his king. It was not because he wanted to make trouble. Remember what Naboth said to Ahab? "The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers" (1 Kings 21:3). Naboth valued what the Lord had given to be his family's inheritance forever. In fact, that the land was entrusted to his family by the Lord was more important to him than making a fortune.
Those who moved boundary stones, do you know what they were really doing? They were stealing from the Lord. They were taking away from the inheritance the Lord had entrusted to another.
C Hosea tells us this morning about Judah's leaders. By "Judah's leaders" he means the nobility, the important people, the aristocrats, the big land-owners. In other words, he means the rich and powerful. These people have no money problems. They can afford to get whatever they want and never have to give it a second thought.
Apparently these leaders did not come by their money through honorable means. I say that because Hosea compares them to those who move boundary stones. The leaders of Judah were greedy, money-grubbing, land-grabbing people. They moved boundary stones to increase the size of their land holdings at the expense of someone else.
We all know and have to admit that the idea of getting something for nothing, of taking what does not properly belong to us, is not something done just by the rich and powerful. Ordinary people also try to get away with this. Even entire nations can be afflicted with this – think of Iraq trying to take over Kuwait.
Jesus says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Mt 5:6) – but most people hunger and thirst for land, money, computers, cars, boats, homes, bikes, and campers. Jesus says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35) – but most people would rather receive than give.
In Hosea's day – just like today – the rich and powerful were not satisfied with what they had. Even though they had far more than they needed, they still wanted more. No matter how rich some people are, they still want to get richer. The richest man in America (and probably in the world) today is Bill Gates, the founder and owner of Microsoft. Is he satisfied with his 53 billion dollars? Is he happier now than he was 20 years ago with only $100 in his pocket? No, no, no. He wants more, more, more. And, many of the rich don't care what they have to do to get more riches. Those in Judah, for instance, trampled the laws of the Lord underfoot. They oppressed the poor and extorted money from widows and orphans. They took land the Lord had given to another. They moved boundary stones.
And what did they do with their ill-gotten wealth? Instead of using their riches for the good of the Kingdom and the needy, they spent their money extravagantly on themselves. In describing these people, Amos talks of Summer and Winter homes, homes adorned with ivory, extravagance upon extravagance.
D Hosea condemns the leaders of Judah for moving boundary stones. He condemns them for stealing land. He condemns them for wanting more, more, more. He condemns them for not keeping their desires under control.
But this is not the main thing that Hosea has in mind in this morning's text. Notice what Hosea really says. He says the leaders of Judah "are like those who move boundary stones." Hosea was making a comparison. Judah's leaders were, in fact, guilty of moving boundary stones, but that was not Hosea's main point. What Hosea really has in mind is not physical boundary stones but spiritual boundary stones. Judah's leaders were guilty of moving spiritual boundary stones.
II Spiritual Boundary Stones
A What does Hosea mean? What does Hosea have in mind?
What he meant was this. Just as someone who moved physical boundary stones had infringed on land owned by his neighbor, so those who move spiritual boundary stones infringe on the Lord's rights. Just like those who move physical boundary stones steal from their neighbor, so those who move spiritual boundary stones steal from the Lord. Just like those who move physical boundary stones sin against the inheritance of their fathers, so those who move spiritual boundary stones sin against the spiritual inheritance of their fathers. The leaders of Judah had become like those who move boundary stones.
B How did they infringe on the Lord's rights? How did they steal from the Lord? How did they sin against the spiritual inheritance of their fathers?
To understand this, we must remember that there are two ways boundary stones can be moved. We can move the boundary stones outward, thus enlarging our property. But we can also move the boundary stones inward, thereby making our property smaller.
The leaders of Judah were guilty of moving the physical boundary stones outward, always outward, always grabbing for more, always stealing from the poor and defenseless. But they were also guilty of moving the spiritual boundary stones inward, always inward, always making God's territory smaller, always making the territory of Mammon or Baal bigger. They cared nothing for their spiritual heritage, for the faith of their fathers, for the spiritual inheritance that was theirs since the days of Joshua and even back to Abraham.
The leaders of Judah simply couldn't understand the thinking of someone like Naboth. Imagine someone clinging to the inheritance of his fathers when he could make a quick buck. They couldn't understand that kind of attachment to a piece of land. Without thinking twice, they would willingly have given up their land, their people, their city, and their temple in the service of some other god. So what was wrong with Naboth?!
We need to realize that the Lord had chosen Israel as His inheritance. He had put boundary stones on the four borders of the Promised Land. He had claimed Israel as His territory. He had declared Israel out of bounds for any other god. He had declared that Israel must be a holy nation. But this did not mean a thing to the leaders of Judah. They did not concern themselves with the Lord's rights. In fact, like Esau, they were willing to trade them for a bowl of lentil soup. Over and over again, they showed themselves more than willing to move the Lord's boundary stones inward; they showed themselves willing to make the Lord's territory smaller and smaller; they showed themselves willing to violate the Lord's rights.
III Boundary Stones and the Church
A As I thought about boundary stones this past week, I realized there is one time where or when the Lord wants the boundary stones to be moved outward, ever outward, ever grabbing more and more. Do you know what I am talking about? I am talking about missions, evangelism, outreach, witnessing. The Lord wants to move His boundary stones into the hearts and lives of peoples everywhere. The Lord wants to completely take over territory controlled by Satan. The Lord wants to enlarge His church and expand His Kingdom.
"Your kingdom come" is the second request of the Lord's Prayer. Most of us pray it every single day. Do you remember what this petition means? The Heidelberg Catechism says:
Rule us by your Word and Spirit in such a wayIn other words, "Keep moving Your boundary stones over God, so that in my life Satan loses and You gain."
that more and more we submit to you.
Keep your church strong, and add to it.In other words, "Keep moving Your boundary stones over God, so that what is claimed by Satan becomes smaller and smaller and what is under Your control becomes bigger and bigger."
Destroy the devil's work ...In other words, "Uproot Satan's boundary stones. Leave him nothing to own and nowhere to go."
It should be the passionate desire of every person here to see the boundary stones of God moved outward, ever outward. It should be the passionate desire of every person here to see the boundary stones of Satan moved inward, ever inward. It should be the passionate desire of every person here to see the territory claimed by Satan becoming ever smaller while the territory controlled by God becomes ever bigger. It should be the passionate desire of every person here to move the Lord's boundary stones outward, to claim hearts and souls for Christ by being involved in the church's mission to the lost.
B I said earlier that Judah's leaders over and over again showed themselves more than willing to move the Lord's boundary stones inward; they showed themselves willing to make the Lord's territory smaller and smaller; they showed themselves willing to violate the Lord's rights.
Now I need to ask if we, like Israel and like the leaders of Judah, move the Lord's boundary stones? Do we violate the faith and inheritance of our fathers?
Many church members in North America today are Sunday morning only Christians. They give the Lord Sunday mornings but forget about Sunday evenings. They give the Lord Sunday mornings but forget about Monday or Tuesday mornings. When it comes to our own life, each of us should be striving to move the Lord's boundary stones ever outwards. When we stay away from the second service or when we do not live for the Lord during the week, do you know what we are doing? We are moving the Lord's boundary stones inward, ever inward. When we reduce the authority of the Lord to one morning a week, we are moving the Lord's boundary stones inward, inward, ever inward.
C Every person here should know what Psalm 24:1 says. And, if they don't know it, they should take the time to learn it. Listen to this verse:
(Ps 24:1) The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it ...
Do you realize what this verse tells us? This verse tells us that God has put up His boundary stones on the four corners of the earth. This verse tells us that all of the universe is territory claimed by King Jesus. This verse tells us that all of the earth and everything and everyone in it belongs to the Lord. This verse tells us that everything we have and everything we are, are within the Lord's boundary stones. Just like the land of Israel did not belong to the Israelites but to the Lord, so our possessions do not belong to us but to the Lord.
But what do we try to do? We try to move the Lord's boundary stones inward, ever inward. We keep the best for ourselves and give the Lord leftovers. We spend money on sports, recreation, vacations, boats, clothing, cars, furnishings, and luxuries and want the Lord to be happy with leftovers (if there is anything left over). We complain when the Lord claims money for His church, His Kingdom, His Christian schools and colleges, and we move the boundary stones inward.
D Another area where we move the Lord's boundary stones inward has to do with the Law of God. We were talking about God's Law on a recent bike ride and one wag called them the Ten Suggestions – as if they weren't all that important. Someone else suggested we call them the Nine Commandments. He said we should drop the 8th commandment about stealing or the 7th about adultery. Many people don't keep those commandments anyway.
Even within the church there are many who do not obey God's Law. God tells us in no uncertain terms His will regarding homosexuality, adultery, pornography, and pre-marital sex. God tells us His will regarding divorce. God tells us His will regarding drunkenness and drug abuse. God tells us His will regarding lies on our income tax form. God tells us His will regarding every area of life. But what do we do? We move the boundary stones inward, ever inward. We take away from the Lord's commands.
I could easily give you many more examples of how the Lord's boundary stones are being moved inward, ever inward, rather than outward, ever outward.
What we need today are people like Naboth. People who say, "The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers" (1 Kings 21:3). What we need today are people who move the Lord's boundary stones outward rather than inward.
When we profess our faith – as Joni did – we say we are that kind of people. We say the most important thing to us is that the Lord's boundary stones be moved outward rather than inward.
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