“Do not remove the ancient landmark, that your ancestors set up.”Proverbs 22:28
Proverbs 22 continues the aphorisms and wise saying that fill the pages of the book, but it also contains a section that continues in the ensuing chapters called “The words of the wise.” This is a collection of proverbs similar to the preceding but that may have circulated independently. We’re just not sure. But I love the one I cite today, “Do not remove the ancient landmark, that your ancestors set up.”
We sometimes ignore the monuments of the past. I’m not just talking about statues of previous heroes. Robert Frost suggests that “Good fences make good neighbors.” We need to know the boundary markers! US 40 still has a few of the original mile markers that helped wagon masters open the west. Go to Israel and you will find in the desert piles of rocks that denoted long forgotten holy sites. But there are other boundary markers of the spirit that we would do well to observe.
Many are found in the teachings of Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount contains the ethical teachings of our Lord, landmark teachings that direct us toward “perfection” in love. Jesus lays out challenges that go far beyond the laws of the Old Testament. “You have heard it said…but I say unto you…”: love your enemies, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, do not be anxious, pray like this, give alms secretly, store treasures in heaven, do not judge others, and on and on these landmarks go. These fence off righteous behavior from disastrous behavior. They are the landmarks of the spirit. Do not remove them!
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