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Light and Truth: The Old Testament: Chapter 19 - Be Not Borderers

By Horatius Bonar


      "Go in and possess the land." -- Deuteronomy 10:2

      ISRAEL passed through many changes in their history; but here we have its termination,--the possession of the land. They were bondsmen, wanderers, outsiders, borderers; but they were not to remain such; they were to possess the land. Here their earthly history, which began with Abraham, ends. Let us learn from this something as to ourselves and our history.

      I. We are not to be without a land. We are to have a country and a city. When in the world, we have these in a certain way, but they are all carnal, they pass from us and we from them. The world's cities and possessions will not do for us. They cannot fill us, nor satisfy us, nor abide with us. Hence, even when in the world, we are truly strangers; landless, cityless, homeless. And after we have come out from the world we are strangers, though not as before; for a land, a city, a home have been secured to us. Sinners, God offers you the better Canaan!

      II. We are not to be dwellers in Egypt. The house of bondage is not for us. Pharaoh cannot be our king. We must, like Moses, refuse to be called the sons of Pharaoh's daughter. We must go out, not fearing the wrath of the king; counting the reproach of Christ greater riches than Egypt's treasures.

      III. We are not to be dwellers in a barren land. The wilderness may do for a day, but not for a permanent abode. Ishmael may have the desert, Israel must have the good land,--the land flowing with milk and honey.

      We are not to be borderers. To be out of Egypt is one step, to come up to the borders of Canaan is another; but that is not to be all. We are not outsiders, never crossing the boundary; nor borderers, belonging to neither region, ever crossing and recrossing the line, as if we had no wish to stay or no portion in the land. The border lands are not for the church, nor for any one calling himself a Christian, an Israelite indeed.

      We are to go in and possess. Out of Egypt, out of the wilderness, across the borders, into the very heart of the land,--Judah's hills, Ephraim's vales, Issachar's plains, Manasseh's pastures, Naphtali's lakes, and Zebulun's fertile reaches. We go in and take possession, leaving all other lands and regions behind. It is the God-chosen, God-given land. Let us enter on it. It is rich, goodly, well watered, let us possess it. Not merely let us survey it, or pitch our tents in it, but build our habitations there, to dwell in it forever.

      What I gather specially from our text is, that we are not to be borderers; not merely not Egyptians, nor Ishmaelites, but not borderers. The place to which God invites us is the land, the kingdom, the city. Just now, of course, it is but the promise, for the kingdom has not yet come. But I speak of the promise as if it were the thing itself, for the promise is God's, not man's.

      There are many borderers in our day; half and half Christians; afraid of being too decidedly or intensely religious. They are not Egyptians, they are not perhaps quite outsiders, for they occasionally seem to cross the line and take a look of the land from some of its southern hills. But they are borderers. They have not boldly taken up their abode in the land; they have not entered in nor possessed it. They are vacillators, worshippers of two Gods, trying to secure two kingdoms and to lay up two kinds of treasures. Let me speak of and to these. Why should you be borderers?

      I. It is sin. It is not your misfortune merely, it is your guilt. That halfheartedness and indecision is about the most sinful condition you can be in. Borderer, you are a sinner; a sinner because a borderer!

      II. It is misery. You cannot be happy in that half-and-half state. You don't know what you are, nor whose you are, nor whither you are going. You are sure of nothing good; only of evil. Were you dying in that state,--were you cut off on the borders, you are lost; and does not that thought make you truly wretched?

      III. It is danger. You think perhaps that because you have gone a little way that all is well; or at least that you are out of danger. No. The danger is as great as ever. Were you to die on the borders,--only almost a Christian, --you are as sure of hell as if you had died in Egypt.

      It is abomination to God. It is an insult to him. It says that you do not care for him or his goodly land. That half- heartedness is abominable to God. It is like Laodicea, or perhaps worse. Borderer, beware of thus provoking and insulting God.

      It is loss to yourself. Even just now, how much you lose. You might be so happy! If decided and sure, you might have such peace! And then the prospect of such a land! What a loss! Yes, your own interests as well as God's honour demand decision. It is such a goodly, glorious land! It is so foolish, and so cowardly to hold back. Oh decide. Be a borderer no more. Enter in and possess the land at once!

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See Also:
   Preface
   Chapter 1 - The Old and New Creation
   Chapter 2 - The Link Between Being and Non-Being
   Chapter 3 - A Happy World
   Chapter 4 - The Sin, the Sinner, and the Sentence
   Chapter 5 - Man's Fig-Leaves
   Chapter 6 - Expulsion and Re-Entrance
   Chapter 7 - The Blood of Sprinkling and the Blood of Abel
   Chapter 8 - The Way of Cain
   Chapter 9 - The Man of Rest
   Chapter 10 - Going Out and Keeping Out
   Chapter 11 - The Shield and the Recompense
   Chapter 12 - Liberty and Service
   Chapter 13 - The Day of Despair
   Chapter 14 - The Blood of Deliverance
   Chapter 15 - How God Deals with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 16 - The Fire Quenched
   Chapter 17 - The Vision from the Rocks
   Chapter 18 - The Doom of the Double-Hearted
   Chapter 19 - Be Not Borderers
   Chapter 20 - The Outlines of a Saved Sinner's History
   Chapter 21 - Divine Longings Over the Foolish
   Chapter 22 - What a Believing Man Can Do
   Chapter 23 - Song of the Putting Off of the Armour
   Chapter 24 - The Kiss of the Backslider
   Chapter 25 - The Priestly Word of Peace
   Chapter 26 - Human Anodynes
   Chapter 27 - Spiritual and Carnal Weapons
   Chapter 28 - Divine Silence and Human Despair
   Chapter 29 - Jewish Unbelief and Gentile Blessing
   Chapter 30 - The Restoration of the Banished
   Chapter 31 - The Farewell Gift
   Chapter 32 - God's Dealing with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 33 - God Finding a Resting-Place
   Chapter 34 - The Moriah Group
   Chapter 35 - Diverse Kinds of Conscience
   Chapter 36 - The Soul Turning from Man to God
   Chapter 37 - Man's Dislike of a Present God
   Chapter 38 - True and False Consolation
   Chapter 39 - Gain and Loss for Eternity
   Chapter 40 - Man's Misconstruction of the Works of God
   Chapter 41 - The Two Cries and the Two Answers
   Chapter 42 - The Knowledge of God's Name
   Chapter 43 - Deliverance from Deep Waters
   Chapter 44 - The Excellency of the Divine Loving-Kindness
   Chapter 45 - The Sickness, the Healer, and the Healing
   Chapter 46 - The Consecration of Earth's Gold and Silver
   Chapter 47 - The Gifts of the Ascended One
   Chapter 48 - The Speaker, the Listener, the Peace
   Chapter 49 - The Believing Man's Confident Appeal
   Chapter 50 - The Love and the Deliverance
   Chapter 51 - The Sin and Folly of Being Unhappy
   Chapter 52 - The Book of Books
   Chapter 53 - The Secret of Deliverance from Evil
   Chapter 54 - The Voice of the Heavenly Bridegroom
   Chapter 55 - The Love that Passeth Knowledge
   Chapter 56 - The Vision of the Glory
   Chapter 57 - Man's Extremity and Satan's Opportunity
   Chapter 58 - The Day of Clear Vision to the Dim Eyes
   Chapter 59 - The Unfainting Creator and the Fainting Creature
   Chapter 60 - The Knowledge that Justifies
   Chapter 61 - The Heritage and its Title-Deeds
   Chapter 62 - The Meeting Between the Sinner and God
   Chapter 63 - God's Love and God's Way of Blessing
   Chapter 64 - Divine Jealousy for the Truth
   Chapter 65 - Divine Love and Human Rejection of it
   Chapter 66 - God's Desire to Bless the Sinner
   Chapter 67 - The Resting-Place Forgotten
   Chapter 68 - The Day that Will Right all Wrongs
   Chapter 69 - The Glory and the Love
   Chapter 70 - False Religion and its Doom
   Chapter 71 - No Breath No Life
   Chapter 72 - Every Christian a Teacher
   Chapter 73 - Work, Rest, and Recompence
   Chapter 74 - Human Heedlessness and Divine Remembrance
   Chapter 75 - Lies the Food of Man
   Chapter 76 - The Love and the Calling
   Chapter 77 - The Anger and the Goodness
   Chapter 78 - Darkness Pursuing the Sinner
   Chapter 79 - Jerusalem the Centre of the World's Peace
   Chapter 80 - Jerusalem and Her King
   Chapter 81 - Looking to the Pierced One
   Chapter 82 - The Holiness of Common Things
   Chapter 83 - Wearying Jehovah with our Words
   Chapter 84 - Dies Irae

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