Trust the Line

Last Friday, Shane Blackmer wrote about our need to “Hold the Line.” Today I want to write just about about the “line” itself.

My son, Joseph, and a friend, Noah, were working last week to put gutters on our garage. This garage is older, it wasn’t built properly, and clearly has some foundation issues; because of this the roof sags.

When Joseph and Noah snapped a chalk line across the fascia board, an optical illusion occurred. If you looked straight at the garage, the line looked like a frown, it looked much higher in the middle and lower on the ends. But the line wasn’t the problem. If you went over to the edge of the roof and looked down the fascia board you could clearly see that the line was straight as an arrow.

The line wasn’t the problem, it was the building.

I believe there is a lesson in that! We may have built our lives on the wrong foundation, or we may not have taken the care to upkeep ourselves spiritually. As a result, lives become crooked and sag, just like that garage. In fact we may become so crooked that we begin to think the line (God’s word and standard of authority) is the problem.

Trust the line. There is nothing wrong with the line. God’s word is straight; we are the ones who need correcting.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways (Psalms 119:15, ESV).

“Fix your eyes” on the line. Use the line to help point out what needs to be corrected in your life. His commandments are true (Psalm 119:142,151), sure (Psalm 119:86) and they are right (Psalm 119:128,172).

Let Them Measure the Pattern

“According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it” (Exodus 25:9).

Moses was commanded by God to make the tabernacle according to the “pattern,” God’s pattern (See also Exodus 25:40; Numbers 8:4; Acts 7:44). Everything God told Moses to do had a specific point, because God was looking forward to Christ and His church. The Hebrew writer taught that the things of the Mosaic law, tabernacle, sacrifices and priesthood served as a “copy and a shadow” of the heavenly things (Hebrews 8:5).

This same expectation of building after the pattern was placed upon King David as he began all the preparations for the temple which his son Solomon would build.

“All this,” said David, “the LORD made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, all the details of this pattern” (1 Chronicles 28:19).

In contrast to the obedience of Moses and David in following God’s pattern, there was a king years later named Ahaz who disobeyed God by seeking another pattern. He traveled to Damascus, and met with the King of Assyria. He came back with a pattern for a different altar and had it built (2 Kings 16:10).

During the days of Ezekiel the prophet, God’s people were in complete defiance of His laws, and because of it God punished Judah through the kingdom of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple and took thousands of the people of Judah into captivity. God looked forward, though, to the days of their return and the days of the Messiah. Through Ezekiel, God called His people back to the “pattern.” If they would examine the words of God which contained that pattern, they would hopefully be ashamed of their sins and turn back to God (Ezekiel 43:10).

Let Them Measure the Pattern

“Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern” (Ezekiel 43:10).

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul served as a pattern for us in many ways:

  • In his salvation (1 Timothy 1:16). The longsuffering and grace extended by Jesus to Paul serves as a pattern for all who will believe in Jesus Christ.
  • Through his life and character (Philippians 3:17; 4:9). Men like Titus and Timothy were also to serve as a pattern in their behavior (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7).
  • The doctrine and sound words he taught (2 Timothy 1:13). These were to be taken by men like Timothy and taught to others so that the pattern of sound doctrine would be repeated for generations to come (2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Corinthians 4:17).

God has a pattern that He wants us to follow. How we are saved. The way we behave and talk. Our worship to God. It is important for us to examine the Word and to find that pattern of sound words and follow it. As men and leaders in homes and churches, we are to have the courage and love for Christ to lead others in following God’s pattern, which first and foremost comes by living the pattern ourselves.

Took their stand with him

And from all their territories the priests and the Levites who were in all Israel took their stand with him (Rehoboam). For the Levites left their common-lands and their possessions and came to Judah and Jerusalem, for Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them from serving as priests to the LORD. Then he (Jeroboam) appointed for himself priests for the high places, for the demons, and the calf idols which he had made. And after the Levites left, those from all the tribes of Israel, such as set their heart to seek the LORD God of Israel, came to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the LORD God of their fathers. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong for three years, because they walked in the way of David and Solomon for three years (2 Chronicles 11:13-17).

Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, began making significant religious changes. This left the faithful people of God in that kingdom in a serious dilemma. They continued to follow God’s law and to stand for God, and because of this they were “rejected.”

God’s faithful remnant needed a new home, a welcome place to serve and worship the God of Israel. Notice the priests and Levites left all their property and possessions behind. This property was God-given to the priests and Levites (Numbers 35:1-8), but they were forced to leave it. Maybe King Jeroboam seized their assets as part of his religious intimidation. At any rate, they left for Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel. Just like the Hebrew Christians, being faithful to God was more valuable than holding on to possessions (Hebrews 10:32-34).

Many of the people of Israel who were faithful to the Lord also left and came to Jerusalem. These citizens of Israel had “set their heart to seek the Lord God of Israel.” During this brief time, for 3 years, they found a welcome home with King Rehoboam in Jerusalem. They helped the King and Judah stay faithful and strong.

Took their stand with him

So, with whom are we making our stand? It is clear that not everyone left Jeroboam in Israel. Most folks stayed and lived with the changes. They took their stand with Jeroboam. Their choice was to be safe rather than sound.

Are we willing to leave behind precious possessions and relationships in order to be part of a congregation that holds fast to God’s word?

Is our congregation a welcome home for the faithful? Even in this culture where many churches are abandoning God’s word for better entertainment and political correctness, there are still believers who care more about being faithful to God’s word. But what about our congregation? Are we more concerned with revenue, numbers, and drawing in the crowds? Or are we focused on the spiritual matters, simply following what Jesus and the apostles told us to do?

Jesus was rejected by men, just like those faithful few in Jeroboam’s kingdom. But to God, He is chosen and precious (1 Peter 2:4). May the same be said of us. We don’t belong here anyway, our hearts should be set on the heavenly kingdom. Let’s learn a lesson today from these rejected priests and Levites who took their stand with God and His faithful people.

Do not remove the ancient landmark

Do not remove the ancient landmark (boundary) which your fathers have set (Proverbs 22:28).

Do not remove the ancient landmark, or enter the fields of the fatherless; for their Redeemer is mighty; He will plead their cause against you (Proverbs 23:10-11).

Some things just should not be moved.

In ancient Israel, God ensured that property would stay within a family perpetually through its generations (Leviticus 25:23; Numbers 36:7). Those properties were marked off by boundary stones (landmarks) and God commanded that they stay put! Sure, it would be tempting to move the landmark and gain some property for your family, but it was considered stealing. Look at how God treated Ahab and Jezebel because they stole Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21).

“You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess (Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17).

In today’s church, there are things that should not be moved, either.

  • There is one gospel, and Paul says we must not tamper with it (Galatians 1:6-9).
  • There is one church, and it belongs to Jesus (Matthew 16:16; Ephesians 4:4-6).
  • There is one way, and Jesus is the way (John 14:6).
  • There is one doctrine, and the early church “continued steadfastly” in it (Acts 2:42). That same teaching was taught in every church (1 Corinthians 4:17). We are to contend for it (Jude 3), because it is not to be moved.

Just as the ancient Israelites did not have the authority to move the ancient landmarks, we as God’s people today have no authority to move God’s landmarks and boundaries.

We must have men today as leaders in the churches who stand for the ancient landmarks, and insist that we go back to the Bible as our boundary lines for everything we say and do.

Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’ (Jeremiah 6:16).