Do You Heed “No Trespassing” Signs?
“NO TRESPASSING” signs are a common sight. Usually they are erected to protect the property or the privacy of the owner on whose place the “No Trespassing” signs appear. At times they are for the purpose of protecting a lawn. Government military installations often have “No Trespassing” signs for security reasons. Then again, a “No Trespassing” sign may be erected to protect a would-be trespasser from harm, as in the case of high-power electrical installations. He who fails to heed such signs might get into difficulty and might even harm himself.
The Bible tells of such a literal “No Trespassing” sign in connection with the giving of God’s law at Mount Sinai. All the people were told to gather at the foot of Mount Sinai. Jehovah further told Moses: “You must set bounds for the people round about, saying, ‘Guard yourselves against going up into the mountain, and do not touch the edge of it. Anybody touching the mountain will positively be put to death.’” By means of this “No Trespassing” sign Jehovah God impressed upon the minds of the Israelites the awesomeness of the place, because it was here that he manifested himself to Israel and gave them his law.—Ex. 19:12, 13.
For our own good the Bible contains what might be said to be many “No Trespassing” signs. For the first man Adam there was, in effect, a “No Trespassing” sign in regard to the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, and Adam saw to it that Eve knew of the restriction. As Eve stated: “God has said, ‘You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it that you do not die.’” Adam and Eve failed to heed that sign, with bad consequences to themselves and to their offspring. Yes, “by one man’s trespass many died.”—Gen. 2:16, 17; 3:1-19; Rom. 5:15.
The Ten Commandments that Jehovah gave to Israel might be said to have consisted of a number of “No Trespassing” signs to protect the rights of God and of everyone’s fellowman. The first four protected God’s rights: No other gods were to be worshiped; no idols were to be made and bowed down to; God’s name was not to be used in a profane manner; man was not to toil secularly on Jehovah’s day, the sabbath. Safeguarding the rights of human creatures were the remaining six commandments, such as those directed against murder, adultery and stealing. In particular might the Tenth Commandment, against coveting, be said to be a “No Trespassing” sign. It said: “You must not desire . . . anything that belongs to your fellow man.”—Ex. 20:3-17.
A warning example of one who violated one of God’s “No Trespassing” signs with disastrous results to himself was King Uzziah of Judah. He started out well, for we read that “he kept doing what was right in Jehovah’s eyes.” But success made him haughty and he trespassed onto territory strictly reserved for priests. Presumptuously he entered the sanctuary of the temple of Jehovah “to burn incense upon the altar of incense.” When eighty priests strenuously objected, Uzziah became enraged. For his presumptuousness Jehovah God struck him with leprosy. What a tragic ending to such a fine beginning!—2 Chron. 26:1-21.
Today, among God’s “No Trespassing” signs that are heeded the least are those relating to sex. In this regard the apostle Paul clearly stated at 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6: “This is what God wills, the sanctifying of you, that you abstain from fornication; . . . that no one go to the point of harming and encroach upon the rights of his brother in this matter.”—1 Thess. 4:3-6.
How can fornication be said to be the violation of one of God’s “No Trespassing” signs? In that the body of an individual Christian belongs to Jehovah God, by reason of his dedication, and by committing fornication the Christian is sinning against his own body. (1 Cor. 6:18) Since this is so, the Christian who commits fornication is, as it were, trespassing upon God’s property.
And certainly the command not to “go to the point of harming and encroach upon the rights of [a] brother in this matter” also constitutes a “No Trespassing” sign. It forbids taking liberties with the mate of another. Today it is a common custom in some places to wear wedding rings. It might be said that a wedding ring, on either a man or a woman, is also a “No Trespassing” sign. It shows that he or she belongs to another.
What will help us to heed these “No Trespassing” signs? God’s Word not only gives us these signs but also furnishes help in heeding them. One such help is the fear of Jehovah God that the Bible inculcates. We do well to fear God, “for our God is also a consuming fire.” And if we have that fear it will have a wholesome effect upon us, for we also read: “The fear of Jehovah means the hating of bad.” Trespassing on the rights of others is something bad. If we hate this form of badness we will not trespass.—Heb. 12:29; Prov. 8:13.
Another great aid is the so-called “Golden Rule” that Jesus gave: “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.” We want others to respect our rights, our belongings, do we not? So we should respect theirs by heeding the “No Trespassing” signs.—Luke 6:31.
What if others trespass against us? Then we do well to remember that we ourselves trespass at times and that ‘God has kindly forgiven us all our trespasses.’ (Col. 2:13) Since Jehovah God has kindly forgiven us our trespasses we should be willing to forgive the trespasses of others against us. In fact, it is to our own lasting welfare that we do so, for Jesus Christ, in commenting on his Model Prayer, said: “if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”—Matt. 6:12-15.