TEN DIVINE BOUNDARIES
For Covenant People in a World of Chaos
Look toward heaven, be still, and listen for the voice of God. Know that there is a Mighty God looking down from His exalted throne, with Jesus Christ seated at His right hand, relaying this message to His covenant children on earth: there is hope in a world encompassed with confusion, uncertainty, violence, and fear. Yes, there is a North Star, a Compass, a Voice from heaven that bids us, His covenant children, to return to the ten divine boundaries given to ancient Israel three months after their Exodus from Egypt.
Covenant people destined to live in the Twenty-first Century find themselves in a world of chaos, trying to cope in a nation that is spiritually, morally, politically, economically, and socially unraveling at the seams! We have scorned and rejected the boundaries of the Living God, casting them asunder and establishing our own code of ethics. In the midst of this spiritual and moral chaos, we find ourselves in a world besieged with violence, sickness, poverty, anxiety, and the constant threat of our lives being turned upside down.
Consider driving down a highway amid the hill country of the Missouri Ozarks, only with the yellow lines removed from the highway. Those yellow marks are placed there to keep on-coming traffic within its boundaries so drivers remain safe. Remove the no-passing lines, and chaos, injury, or even death may ensue. Consider the guardrails along mountains passes: they are there to mark boundaries for safety, to prevent drivers from going over or down an incline. We cannot live without respecting boundaries in the natural world. We understand that we must obey boundaries established by the law of gravity, or we could easily die.
Without boundaries, living as we know it would be impossible. Parents establish boundaries in their homes. Boundaries exist in the work place and in every venue in life. A boundary is where one person or thing stops and another begins. The word no is the most frequently used boundary marker in human relationships. Prisons are filled with people who broke boundaries. Mental institutions are filled with patients who consistently violate boundaries.
Consider this: God also ordained boundaries. In fact, the Bible is the story of how God chose Abraham and Sarah and the Israelites descended from them and entered a covenant with them by setting boundaries. The covenant children of Israel were to become a special people above all others on the earth by observing these boundaries, which Jehovah established. The Ten Commandments are the boundaries God set to distinguish between Himself and His people; they are those boundaries which we must honor in our relationship with Him and with each other. The boundaries that establish our relationship with God are vertical, while the boundaries that mark our relationship with each other are horizontal.
Our God issued ten divine boundaries to establish who He is and where the lines are that define His relationship with His covenant people. The first table of commandments defines the boundaries that God set between Himself and His people. The second table defines the perimeters that govern relationships between one another. These ten laws (commands) are the most revolutionary moral code ever known and have largely shaped every code of ethics ever recorded.
The only way people can live in peace and enjoy harmony is to honor the boundaries that our sovereign God established. When these divine boundaries are violated or circumvented, a spiritual and moral crisis quickly follows. Human relationships break down. A spiritual falling away occurs, and the people move into moral reprobation. The Anglo-Saxon confederation of nations is desperately struggling to survive in the absence of these ten divine boundaries established between Jehovah and His covenant people at Mt. Sinai thirty-five centuries ago.
The United States of America Is in Crisis Mode
America was born and baptized as a covenant nation under Jesus Christ. Our national foundations were placed squarely upon the divine boundaries established in God’s covenant law. The moral laws of the Ten Commandments formed the covenantal foundation upon which this nation rose to unprecedented greatness and became the city set upon a hill among all the nations of the earth. No nation in the annals of history ever rose so quickly into such international prominence. The financial prosperity and standard of living enjoyed by Americans up until now was previously unknown. In the midst of affluence and abundance, we lost all sense of any personal or collective need of God and the moral absolutes of His law. Our insatiable love of pleasure, our tolerance of sin, and our preoccupation with wealth became the focus of our collective nation, while we ignored or forgot God, His Word, and all things Christian.
The Anti-Establishment Sixties
Beginning in the 1960s, we began to challenge the moral boundaries of the Ten Commandments as never before. Our protest against the very existence of God began about the same time. Family, the church, and moral absolutes were ripped from the fabric of our society. Moral anarchy prevailed as drugs, sex, rock music, and a rejection of Christianity and moral absolutes impacted the culture and tore at the foundations of this nation. Our national rejection of God and His moral absolutes of Scripture was followed by our repudiation of authority at every level. Rebellion against spiritual and moral standards prevailed throughout the land. The boundaries set by our Founding Fathers dissolved in chaos and moral anarchy.
University and college campuses were not the only place where God, marriage, family, church, and moral standards began being rejected and scorned. In 1962, our government (President, Congress, and U.S. Supreme Court) began ejecting God and the Bible from the public square, prohibiting prayer and the Bible in public schools. They began moving long-established boundaries, in place since the founding of America in the early 1600s. Between 1954 and 1964, the largely segregated and racially undiluted America began desegregating, and the Supreme Court declared bans against interracial marriage unconstitutional. The character of the American people began to undergo radical change in the 1960s as this country moved from faith in God, personal initiative, individual responsibility, and ambition to a culture that believed government is largely responsible for providing what families and the church had formerly provided for the chronic poor. Enormous welfare programs funded by the voracious appetite of a tax and spend Federal Government grew out of the Sixties.
The Self-Absorbed Seventies
Riding the crest of the 1960s, the era of the 1970s marked a generation that became obsessed with one’s own person. With so many ethical absolutes being trashed during the 1960s, people felt unchained from the past. Some of the best selling books of this era reveal in vivid detail the personal focus that consumed Americans in the 1970s. Consider these titles: Winning through Intimidation, Looking Out for Number One, and I’m Okay, You’re Okay. These emphasized what social critic Tom Wolfe called “the decade of me.” Far too many Americans felt themselves disconnected from the ethical standards of former generations; having thus rejected God and the absolutes of His Word, far too many began living only to please themselves.
With the removal of the ethical values of former generations, the Seventies generation was able to waive many of the biblical standards that had forbidden abortion, sodomy, miscegenation, divorce, fornication, and other sins prohibited and condemned as unacceptable by the biblical absolutes which had long guided America. The preoccupation with self to the exclusion of the rights and privileges of others gave rise to a plethora of radical social changes. The Seventies generation welcomed no-fault divorce beginning in California in 1970, abortion in 1973, public displays of sodomy, and increasingly rampant miscegenation.
The Golden Age of Greed
Tragically, the “me” centered 1970s morphed into the “Golden Age of Greed” in the 1980s. The obsession with self and the “me” centered worldview of the 1970s essentially removed formerly valuable character traits from millions of Americans. Greed and corruption began heavily manifesting themselves in government, sports, business, and even in the church. Self-obsession destroys character; the lust and greed that followed the loss of ethical values bore a harvest of sin. Our prison population doubled in the 1980s. More than 1,000 public officials were prosecuted by the Department of Justice in just one year during the 1980s “age of greed.” Wall Street kings were jailed for inside trading. Scores of politicians went to prison for multiple crimes of greed. Gambling at major sporting events became commonplace.
The exaltation of self became the over-arching goal of millions of Americans during the 1980s. Without the unchanging biblical ethics of former generations to check this proclivity to greed, there simply was no check on the self-abasement and moral corruption that followed. No part of American society was exempt from this unchecked proliferation of sin. Nationally known religious leaders were exposed for the highest levels of personal sin and corruption, including evangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Baker. For generations, Americans had been reared under the premise of original sin (the belief that every Adamite was depraved and incapable of good apart from Jesus Christ). But, this was no more. And, let us not forget that it was in 1980 that the U. S. Supreme Court struck down a Kentucky statute requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools. This marked the beginning of the complete removal of moral absolutes from the public square of America. Without an ethical standard, no nation can long survive. By the end of the 1980s, then, America had been cut loose from her former biblical absolutes, leaving the nation adrift on the dangerous seas of moral relativism, with every man seeking to define his own ethics.
The 1990s and Beyond: A Crisis in Ethics
The United States of America has now lived through more than two decades of emancipation from the biblical ethics that we once revered. As we move deeper into the 21st Century, the U. S. is bogged down in a state of political paralysis, an economic meltdown, and social upheaval. We are a withering image of our former glory. The standard of living is plunging and threatens to eliminate the Middle Class. The country has been overrun with upwards of thirty million aliens from Mexico and millions from other Third World, non-White nations. That the U. S. is in crisis is an understatement.
This country is now in a desperate search for ethics. We have lost the character, stability, and biblical ethics that forged this great nation. Since the 1960s, each succeeding decade has witnessed the acceleration of our complete loss of character and biblical values.
Now, traditional, old-fashioned Americans throughout the land recognize the urgent need for a revival of ethics. The problem is that no one can determine which code of ethics to follow. Among a nation drowning in moral pluralism, who is qualified to determine right and wrong? Having dismissed God and Scripture as the ultimate and only authoritative voice of truth, we have no point of reference to establish a code of ethics. Our country cannot find its way through the maze of gods and religions that adorn the land. Multiculturalism and racial diversity have forever changed the America our Christian ancestors established. Having scorned the incarnation of the Living God in the Person of Jesus Christ, Who alone can save sinful man from his total depravity, we are without hope—unless, of course, we come to our senses, repent, turn to Jesus Christ, and restore ourselves under His sole authority.
Jehovah God Has Spoken
For Blood washed, Spirit filled, Bible believing Christians the problem of ethics has been resolved. The Almighty Ever-living transcendent God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has revealed His “Code of Ethics” for His covenant people for all of time and eternity. This ethical standard has been codified in the oldest, most revolutionary set of moral absolutes this world has ever known. They are called the Ten Commandments, the covenant contract between Jehovah and His redeemed people for all of time and eternity. They are the North Star, the compass, the GPS that alone can establish a code of ethics that can lead America out of the dark night of moral relativism.
Sadly, we live in a nation that has removed all the divine boundaries established by our covenant keeping God and revealed to His servant Moses at Mt. Sinai some thirty-five centuries ago. America has managed to remove most of these absolute boundaries set in stone by the very finger of God. What boundaries were not removed in former decades certainly are being discarded wholesale now, in the second decade of the 21st Century. There is no right and wrong in modern America. Evil has been pronounced good and good evil. The Sixties’ motto was “Do your own thing.” Now our own thing is doing it to us.
Once a nation sets aside God’s divine boundaries, there is no limit to the moral reprobation that follows. In 1973, we set specific limits on abortion, regarding the number of weeks old at which a child could be aborted (i.e., murdered). We have continued to move the boundaries to the point where full-term children are murdered. Consider how we keep writing new boundaries for sodomy, euthanasia, and other heinous crimes. How drastically are we erring from the divine mark regarding biblical marriage!
Who? When? Why?
These are three important points to address regarding Jehovah’s divine boundaries. We must understand who they were given to, when they were given, and why our Creator issued these commands in the form of a covenant.
Who gave them?
Jehovah issued the ten commands. He is the great “I AM” Who in the unity of His one essence is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This one, true, and only God is the author of this most unique and revolutionary code of behavior ever known. These ten commands govern every aspect of man’s vertical relationship with God and horizontal relationship with his fellow man. No area of man’s relationship to God or to his fellow man is outside the scope of these commands. This code of ethics was revealed from heaven, written by the very finger of God upon two tables of stone.
When and to Whom Were They Given?
These divine boundaries were revealed to ancient Israel from Jehovah about 1491B.C., in the third month after their Exodus from Egypt. Having brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and having delivered them through the Red Sea, Jehovah mercifully delivered them from slavery and gracefully brought a nation of three million Israelites into the wilderness of Sinai. Jehovah spoke these words in the third month after they left Egypt as they prepared to celebrate the very first Pentecost (Feast of Weeks or Firstfurits): “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (Exodus 19:4).
These ten divine commands delivered at Mt. Sinai were received amid an unparalleled display of miracles and wonders from heaven. Mt. Sinai was breathing smoke; the mountain quaked, thunder sounded, lightning flashed, the trumpet sounded, and Jehovah appeared at the top of the mount and called for Moses to ascend the mountain. These miracles and wonders at this first Pentecost following the Exodus would not be repeated for fifteen centuries until the Day of Pentecost referenced in Acts, when a mighty rushing wind filled the house where the disciples sat and cloven tongues as of fire appeared upon each of them (Exodus 19; Acts 2).
By His sovereign grace, the Mighty Jehovah Elohim delivered Israel from the bonds of servitude, saved them in all the plagues that fell upon the gods of Egypt, brought them over dry shod through the mighty waters of the Red Sea, and was now preparing them to receive the single greatest code of ethics the world will ever know. Without a doubt, these ten boundaries are divinely inspired and present the original design and intent of Jehovah for our relationship to Him and to one another.
Jehovah issued these ten commands for several reasons. Firstly, Israel was given these commands to set her apart unto Jehovah as a special covenant people, a peculiar treasure in the earth. “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation...” (Exodus 19:5-6).
Secondly, these divine boundaries were established to the end that Israel might bring glorify Jehovah as they followed these commands and became that city set on a hill. These inspired words delivered through Jeremiah (13:11) are compelling: “…So have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory…”
Thirdly, these divine commands were established to the end that Israel, Jehovah’s covenant people, might fear Jehovah their God and walk circumspectly before Him. This concept is succinctly set forth in Deuteronomy 4:9-10 in the inspired words of Moses: “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, …Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.”
Fourthly, these ten commands were given that Israel might observe these divine boundaries and not sin against Jehovah: “And now Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12).
Finally, the Ten Commandments were intended to render great blessings and the loving favor of Jehovah upon His covenant people. Just as the double yellow lines running down the road are intended to save lives and keep people alive on busy highways, so were the divine boundaries established for the blessing, benefit, and joy of Israel. Just as the yard fence is intended to keep children from being run over in the street, the divine boundaries were established for the blessing and protection of God’s people. Consider the blessings promised for obedience to the Ten Commandments:
“Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant(the covenant was the Ten Commands, as is confirmed in Deuteronomy 4:13) and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers: And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee” (Deuteronomy 7:12-15).
Yes, the boundaries established in the Ten Commandments were to ensure the blessing of Jehovah upon His covenant people: “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).
Yes, millions of Americans live in despair and fear as the spiritual and moral foundations around them crumble. Random violence and explosive human anarchy are proliferating. Security cameras, locks, and gated communities are the new normal in urban America. Eight of every ten Americans can expect to be a victim of violent crime at some point. American children will view an estimated 40,000 simulated murders on television, video games, and in the cinema. We are living in a state of national crisis because we have spurned God’s immutable laws! Unspeakable wickedness and evil have become normal in a land that once honored God, revered the sanctity of human life, and lived by the golden rule. Abortion, feticide (the intentional killing of infants), euthanasia (intentional killing to end pain and suffering), sodomy, miscegenation, fornication (pre-marital sex is epidemic!), a growing percentage of all children being born to single parent homes without a father, live-in relationships—these are the new norm. Divorce among first marriages is at 50%, second marriages 70%, and third marriages off the charts. The American family is becoming dysfunctional as the biblical definition of marriage, family, and ethical standards are trashed throughout our land.
In the midst of this chaos, a voice from heaven is calling His remnant to turn from this unspeakable, barbaric sin and wickedness and return to the divine boundaries Jehovah established at Mt. Sinai. Let us paint the yellow lines back on the roadway of life and live within the boundaries set by our sovereign God. Without these boundaries, we will march into the abyss of oblivion.
As we listen to the voice of Almighty God and return to the ancient code of ethics handed down at Mt. Sinai, may we humble our hearts before these awesome commands and with penitent hearts allow our utter failure and helplessness to have obeyed these divine commands drive us to the cross of Jesus Christ, where we can find forgiveness for our sins. There, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, we will be fully justified before an altogether holy God. The Ten Commandments can accuse, convict, judge, and condemn us of our sin, but they can never save us. They are our schoolmaster to lead us to Jesus Christ, Who alone can save us. We need the Holy Spirit to give us the will to obey to the best of our ability these divine commands as the fruit of our salvation.
We are passengers on the titanic of nations. Icebergs lie ahead. The moment of decision is here! The Captain of our Salvation is calling for His covenant children to board the lifeboat at once. Biblical repentance, confession of sin, a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, baptism for the remission of our sins, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide us back within the ten divine boundaries is the lifeboat for the Christian remnant. Without the absolute ethical landmarks of the Ten Commandments, America, the titanic of nations, is headed to the bottom of the oceanic graveyard of nations.
In this gross darkness of our time in history, let us fix our eyes on the North Star, the Divine Compass, the GPS of Scripture, and find Jesus Christ and His unchanging absolutes to guide us through this darkness into the light of His Eternal Kingdom, when the wicked are sent into the eternal punishment and fire of Gehenna!