Moses briefly addresses property boundary rules. But this issue is very important to the lives of the people.
When Israel finally rests from conquering the inhabitants of the Promised Land, it will be divided between the tribes, clans, and families. At that time the boundaries will be “set in stone.” Not only are these newly established lines marked with stones but are expected to remain in place forever.
I was thinking about other marker stones that were laid down in Israel’s history. The first that comes to mind was the stones that separated Jacob from Laban. When Jacob and his family finally left Laban, Laban chased after him. When all the arguing and accusations were done they set up a marker that defined how far one could move toward the other. It didn’t matter which road they might take in their travels, they vowed to never pass this point from either party’s side.
The second set of marker stones that came to my mind hasn’t happened yet in our story line. It is the stones that are carried to the middle of the Jordan when the people cross over. These stones are a memorial for the people. Because of the way water wears away stone, they won’t last forever but their memory is meant to. This memorial served as a unification point for the tribes on both sides of the Jordan. It is a place they can all point to and say “Israel spreads out from here.” The waters didn’t divide them but unified them instead.
The boundary stone Moses is referring to are still to be laid down. They will both divide and unify. They will separate tribe from tribe and family from family in terms of ownership but they will also unify the descendants throughout the generations.
Moses shares God’s instructions about selling and redeeming family property. Leviticus 25 goes into great detail about property and returning it to the family during the year of jubilee. The parcels given at the time of conquest are to remain in the family permanently. I believe it becomes part of the birthright and is passed on that way.
This makes moving the boundary stones have lasting consequences. This would be stealing land from not only the current owner but all future generations. God forbids this.
I have found recently been involved in my neighborhood concerns about property boundaries. I never knew “10 feet” of property could cause so much unrest. There has been turmoil for the last three years over access to those ten feet.
Something of interest in the whole “property” issue is that ALL of it belongs to God. “The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers” (Leviticus 25:23). God is only letting us hold it for a while. So squabbling over what isn’t yours in the first place is plain ridiculous!
I wonder how many times the original stones had to be replaced. Wind and weather wear away stone and they would need to be replaced occasionally. Landmarks like rivers and streams also shift so it would take careful documentation to know the exact location of the original markers. I have a feeling that it would take neighbors cooperating and trustworthy witnesses in this matter too. Maybe that is why this section is right before Moses’ instructions regarding witnesses.
Father God, I have never been one to “go to war” over boundaries. In this whole thing going on in my neighborhood I would LOVE to see it settled peaceably. I HATE conflict! I also hate being caught in the middle of it and having no clear way out. Give me words that can foster peace between the parties or keep me out of the middle of it all together. I ask that You solve this within the hearts of the parties. Also please impress on the legal entities involved the need to communicate with ALL parties.
Show me my role as neighbor to all. Let me be a neighbor who is a blessing. Please help Steve stay unaware of all that is transpiring. Keep peace in his heart and restore peace to the rest of us please Holy Spirit. Show me when to take a stand too but let that stand be bathed in Your presence.