In 1818, we signed a treaty with Great Britain agreeing to joint ownership of the Oregon Territory. Citizens from both countries had settled there. They eventually agreed to a boundary between America and Canada at the 49th parallel. Then they both got greedy. The British claimed anything north of the 42nd parallel. Along came American expansionists who were willing to go to war in order to claim the disputed area up to the 54th 40 parallel for America.
Franklin Polk ran on the expansionist platform with the slogan "Fifty-four forty or fight," referring to what is now the southern border of Oregon, fifty four degrees, forty minutes north latitude. On Dec 4, 1844, after an election that had run since November 1, he won the presidency. However, he abandoned the fight and left the Oregon Territory boundary at the original line of agreement, the 49th parallel, where it still is today.
We've had some boundary issues ourselves. When we first moved onto this land, no one else lived on the parcels anywhere around us. Everyone else bought for the investment and planned to sell later, and with the titles unclear (except for ours) the plots remained empty for a long time. With no fences in place, the boys literally had their own version of the Hundred Acre Woods to play in.
When the first hard rains showed us how the land around here drained, and that we would soon be washed away if something weren’t done, the owners to the north of us plowed a ditch along that side to help us out. It was required by law, but they were compliant and even stopped to make sure we were satisfied before their rented equipment went back to the store. Yes, we were. The ditch worked fine and we stayed dry.
We assumed the ditch ran right along the northern edge of the property and used all the land up to it for our garden, for our yard, for flower beds, even for a post to hold guywires for our antenna. When the land around us began to sell and people moved in, we finally had to put up a fence. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that we had been using as much as five feet more land along the north boundary than was actually ours. But of course, the surveyors were correct. They had sighted along the boundary markers, white posts set on all four corners of our five plus acres. I even had to dig up half of a lily bed one morning and transplant them elsewhere so they could put the fence along the correct line.
The Israelites were aware of boundaries and the landmarks that outlined them. “You shall not move your neighbor's landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess. Deut 19:14. It was a matter of honesty and integrity. “‘Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor's landmark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ Deut 27:17. And this is just talking about land. Imagine if someone moved a landmark that showed something even more important than that.
The princes of Judah have become like those who move the landmark… Hos 5:10. The wicked kings of God’s people had blurred the lines between right and wrong, between good and evil. The standard became which will make me wealthier or more important among my peers, rather than which is right in the eyes of God? Which is more convenient, which is easier, which do I like the best, which appeals to my lusts? All of these have been used to move the boundaries of right and wrong in people’s lives for thousands of years. When the government does it too, we have an instant excuse. After all, it’s not against the law, is it?
Do you think it hasn’t happened to us? What do you accept now that you would never have accepted thirty years ago because you knew that the Bible said it was wrong? Now people come along and tell you the Bible is a book of myths or the Bible only means what you want it to mean. They have moved the landmark, and many have accepted it.
God does not move landmarks. What He says goes—then and now. He may have changed the rituals we perform in each dispensation, but basic morality—right and wrong--has not and will not change. Even Jesus used the argument, “But from the beginning it was not so…” (Matt 19:8).
We can move the landmarks all we want, but we will still wind up on the Devil’s property, and God will know the difference, whether we accept it or not.
Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you. Prov 23:10-11