"Line of Demarcation" (April 2011)
What is a line of demarcation? There are several Lines of Demarcation. The most famous dealt with the discovery of the New World and dividing it up among European powers. "The Line of Demarcation” was a line drawn by Pope Alexander VI in 1493-1494 to assign colonial spheres of interest in the Americas to Portugal and Spain. Portugal was assigned Brazil, the west and east coasts of Africa, the southern and eastern shores of Asia, and the East Indies. Spain was assigned the Americas, the Philippines, and lands encountered by or to be encountered by Columbus. There are other specific lines of demarcation throughout the world that divide one area, country or region from another- the Blue Line is a border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel; the Foch Line was a temporary demarcation line between Poland and Lithuania; the Military Demarcation Line, sometimes referred to as the Armistice Line, is the border between North Korea and South Korea; the Mason-Dixon line is a demarcation line between four U.S. states, forming part of the borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia in the resolution of a border dispute between British colonies in Colonial America; and there are many more lines of demarcation, too many to list. But the more general definition is: The setting or marking of boundaries or limits; a separation; a distinction. A line of demarcation is used as a boundary line to separate one thing from another.
In May of 2010 the About the Master’s newsletter was entitled- “Removing the Boundaries”. It was written right after the oil rig disaster that destroyed the rig and was allowing thousands of gallons of oil to spill into the ocean. If you remember the incident you will recall that the name of the oil rig was the Horizon. In the newsletter I noted that there was a “spiritual” parallel between this disaster and what we see happening around us in the world, in our own nation and in the church. If you don’t mind I want to refresh your memory for a moment by quoting from that newsletter. “I discovered that the name of the oil rig that exploded causing this was called the Horizon. I looked up the definition of “horizon”. (My discovery was very interesting.) This is the information that I found in the dictionary. Horizon- the line or circle that forms the apparent boundary between earth and sky. The apparent intersection of the earth and sky as seen by an observer. The origin of the word means- limit or boundary. So the word “horizon” means, in layman’s terms, a boundary line or limitation between two things keeping them separated. Without a boundary to limit something, whatever that something is, has free course to go wherever it desires. The reason all that oil is spilling into the water is because the rig blew up- it was destroyed. Physically speaking, when the Rig Horizon was removed, there was nothing there to hold back the well and limit the oil from freely flowing. Therefore, it is out of control because there are no boundaries to hold it back so the sludge can go anywhere it chooses or the winds and waves carry it. Symbolically speaking, when the “horizon”, the boundaries, are removed, the limitations are taken off and whatever it has been holding back is no longer controlled but has free course to spread. Spiritually speaking, I believe God is telling us as a nation that our “horizon” is gone. Our boundaries are missing. We have removed all limitations that stop everything that is anti-God from coming onto our shores. Our “horizon” is gone, therefore, “pollutants” are coming into this nation in unlimited degree- sexual perversions, lawlessness, blasphemies, anti- Christ spirits and so on.” In the newsletter I continued to talk about the removal of the boundaries, in the world and in the church. I also repeated what one of the ladies in the prayer group had said. She said, “Our boundaries define us.” (Quoting again from the newsletter.) “Each state has a border and you know when you have left one state and gone into another one because you crossed their border. We can look on the map and know which state is which by its shape. Its shape is apparent because the borders form the shape of the state. The borders of states also identify the people who live within the states. If you don’t believe it, cross the border into the state of Louisiana, for example, especially around the Bayou. The people there have a certain cultural, lifestyle and diet that you won’t find in Mississippi or Texas. California is the same way. Cross the border and you will find a different culture and mentality among its citizens. The same goes for all fifty states. Each state is known for having certain characteristics. If borders aren’t important and don’t define a city, county, state, nation or continent then why are wars waged against nations based on their border lines? If borders don’t define nations why all the fuss about Israel’s borders? Why are so many nations trying to remove her from her “borders”? Borders are important and our borders identify us as the nation of the United States. Without the Mexican border or the Canadian border there would be nothing to define us as a distinct, individual and separate nation from the rest of North America. The three countries that presently comprise the North American continent would all be one.”
Back to the subject of lines of demarcation. We said that a line of demarcation is used as a boundary line to separate one thing from another. I looked up the definition of a boundary line and discovered that it is also defined as an imaginary line of demarcation between two parcels. So how does this fit in with what I shared from this past newsletter? In the midst of boundaries that are being removed and broken lines of separation in the world and in the church, God is speaking clearly from heaven that it is time for His people to reestablish His boundary lines of separation and distinction in our lives- those who call themselves Christians.
Men, governments, economics, even religion is trying to reestablish or remove completely the lines of separation and blend everything together as one. There are some things that can never come together as one. It is alarming that there is a “new” religion springing up called “Chrislam”. It is a merger of Christianity and Islam. Christianity and Islam can never become one- there is a line of demarcation between them. We don’t worship the same God, and all ways don’t lead to God. There is only one way and His name is Jesus. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)
Boundary lines have always been important to the Lord. In the Law He gave a specific command against removing the boundary markers of your neighbor’s land. “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.” (Deuteronomy 19:14) He is the one who set up the establishment of lines of demarcation physically, and also spiritually. “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19) “Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.” (Exodus 32:26) “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” (1 Kings 18:21) He has always commanded His people to be a separate people. (There are lines of demarcation that separate the children of God from those in the world.) “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." (2 Corinthians 6:16,17) His lines have not changed with the times, with people’s opinions, with the latest fad or men’s knowledge. Men may try to change them and pull them down, but He does not. And just because men do, doesn’t mean He has. His boundaries are still in force regardless of how many times men try to move them or do away with them. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10,11) “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” (Psalm 89:34)
What is this line of demarcation that we must make sure is established in our lives? The line that we are talking about is spiritual in nature. It is not a physical line that has been painted or drawn on something like the painted lines in a parking lot. Yet, these lines are more permanent, because they have eternal significance to them. “Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumb line. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more.” (Amos 7:7,8)
Let’s look at a “plumb line” for a moment. The Lord used it to describe the scene that is taking place in these verses in Amos. A plumb line is a tool that is used for determining whether or not something is perfectly vertical. It is a piece of string with a weight tied to the end. It accurately revealed whether whatever it was placed up against was truly upright. A plumb makes sure that it is straight and a line divides one thing from another. The plumb line that is being talked about here was not referring to a physical tool, it represented the Word of God. God’s Word determines how upright His people truly are in His sight. Not how upright they think they are, or how upright they proclaim themselves to be. God’s word is the plumb line (standard) by which everything is measured- our actions, deeds, works, thoughts, intentions, etc. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20:12) In short, God’s word (the plumb line) is the line of demarcation that separates and identifies those who aren’t following the Lord from those who are.
A line divides one thing from another. Lines in the parking separate one parking spot from another. I learned a few years ago that if someone hits your car in a parking space and you are parked over the lines that have been marked off for that spot that you are considered the one in the wrong and will get a traffic ticket. If you cross a property line you are on someone else’s property and considered trespassing. There are imaginary lines in the sky that mark off “No Fly” zones. This means that there are no airplanes allowed to fly in that air space. If you cross that line it will be considered a criminal offense, and your plane could be shot down. There is even a term, “crossing the line”, which means that you don’t play by the rules. So lines are important, and as I have already said they are important to God. I believe that is one of the reasons why He has been speaking to us to “get in line”, “line up”, “stay on line”.
Lines are intended to bring a separation that defines one thing from another. From the newsletter on removing the boundaries we learned that boundary lines help define us. God’s line of demarcation brings separation that defines us as His children. God gave the Israelites His commandments and told them to live by them in the land that they were going to posses. He told them that it was through living by them (within the boundaries of His word) that the inhabitants around them would know that there was something “different” about them- that they were the people of the True and Living God. “Now listen, Israel, listen carefully to the rules and regulations that I am teaching you to follow so that you may live and enter and take possession of the land that God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, is giving to you. Don't add a word to what I command you, and don't remove a word from it. Keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you. Pay attention: I'm teaching you the rules and regulations that God commanded me, so that you may live by them in the land you are entering to take up ownership. Keep them. Practice them. You'll become wise and understanding. When people hear and see what's going on, they'll say, "What a great nation! So wise, so understanding! We've never seen anything like it." Yes. What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us? And what other great nation has rules and regulations as good and fair as this Revelation that I'm setting before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:1,2,5-8- The Message Bible) When we live our lives by God’s word and allow it to be the plumb line (standard and measure for everything we do), it will cause others to take note that there is something different about us. That difference they see will reveal that we are God’s people.
When the lines that are in place are violated, they can cause problems or destruction. As I was reading about the different lines of demarcation that are enforced around the world, I discovered that they were established to help bring peace, remove confusion or as a ceasefire act during war. I thought that was interesting because God’s word, as we have already said, is a boundary line and as long as we are obedient to His word and stay on “plumb” we will be safe. God’s word is a safe place for us. When we obey it, we will dwell in peace and safety. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119:165) His word is not just a list of do’s and don’ts. It isn’t meant to deprive us of enjoyment. Obedience to it is meant to keep us safe and allow us to enjoy the abundant life Jesus talked about in John 10:10- “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” For example one of the Ten Commandments says not to commit adultery. If I obey that command, I don’t have to worry about contracting some disease, having to deal with an unwanted pregnancy, hurt someone who loves me or have to deal with the guilt. If I obey the command not to kill, then I don’t have to worry that I will spend the rest of my life behind bars. I can enjoy the freedom to come and go when I please. I haven’t caused pain to some family member that has lost their loved one. If I obey when it says to guard my tongue. Then I won’t live with regret over something that I said that was hurtful or harmful and can never take back because the damage is already done. When the Israelites disobeyed God’s word and worshipped the golden calf, they crossed the line and death came upon the ones who did. When David disobeyed and committed adultery with Bethsheba, he crossed a line and it brought guilt, pain, death and shame. All the way back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam ate of the tree that the Lord told him not to eat of, his disobedience brought sin and death into the world. As long as he had obeyed he was under the safe boundaries of God’s word and there was peace and freedom from sin and its affects. God loves us and cares about us deeply. He wants us to enjoy this one life that we have been given, therefore, He has given us rules and laws to live by in order for that to happen.
On the subject of peace and safety, only those who have done what His word says to do where their soul is concerned will find true safety and peace. If we repent of our sins and received Jesus as Savior and follow Him as Lord, we will have the greatest peace any one can experience-- peace with God. “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight- if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (Colossians 1:19-23-NKJV)
This is not a time for us to be “tearing down the boundaries” in our individual lives. The Lord’s return is soon and when He returns He will come with a “dividing rod” in His hand and will separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares and the wise virgins from the foolish ones. “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.” When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (Matthew 25:1-4,10,31-33) “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; as therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.” (Matthew 13:38,40)
In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, after they both die the rich man went to hell and Lazarus went into the "bosom of Abraham". In the conversation between the rich man and Abraham we hear these words- "between us and you there is a great gulf fixed." I believe that is a word for us on this side of death as well. There is a "gulf"- a line of demarcation that is between the Christian and the world. On our side is light, on their side is darkness. On our side there is life, on their side is death. On our side there is hope, on their side there is turmoil. On our side we are the children of God, on their side only enemies of His. On our side we have obtained forgiveness, on their side they are still in trespasses and sin. On our side, we have the Fruit of the Spirit, on their side only the fruits of the flesh. From God’s perspective there is a spiritual line of demarcation drawn in the universe and we are going to live on either His side or the world’s side. When we pass from this earth, as we have seen in the story of Lazarus and the rich man, there will still be a line of demarcation. Only this time there will be no more chances to make sure we are on the right side or the opportunity to reestablish God’s line in our lives. Therefore, we should make sure we are on the Lord’s side now so that we can be on His side of the line then as well.