The Wall of Hostility. Have you ever heard of it? I had totally missed any reference to it in church and did not recall reading about it, until last week…
In Ephesians, Chapter 2, Paul writes about those near and afar away. Remember that? Let’s draw near, yet we need some back story first.
In the Temple in Jerusalem, the Most Holy Place is where the Ark of God rested. A High Priest went in ONCE per year, actually by casting lots. The great fear for the Lord God Almighty was present among the priests. A rope was actually tied around his ankle to pull him out from beyond the veil into the Most Holy Place, as it was possible to approach God incorrectly and die. Nobody just entered God’s presence!
A heavy veil separated the Most Holy Place from the next area, which is where the priests worked and worshipped in the Temple. Then came the area where the Jewish men gathered and worshipped in the Temple, followed last of all by the area where the Jewish women gathered and worshipped in the Temple.
Beyond this stood a wall. It’s purpose was to separate the people of God from all others. All others means the Gentiles, right? And this wall had a name – the wall of hostility. It’s purpose – to separate those near and afar way from God.
Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders.
Outsiders. Oh how we abhor being on the outside looking in, uninvited, unwanted, and unwelcome.
I love that God had a plan to unite all people! He hid this mystery throughout the Old Testament as well as throughout the ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to save God’s Chosen people, yet He was rejected by them as not the Messiah they were looking for.
And the most holy religious persecutor of Christ’s followers was struck blind and given a new name and a message. Saul became Paul. Jesus told him to go. Go into all the world. Tell the Gentiles…
As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. 5 God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets.
6 And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. 7 By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.
Ephesians 3: 4-7 (NLT)
Spreading this Good News indeed! Paul writes exquisitely about the Good News in Ephesians, which many consider to be the queen of his epistles. And I am thankful for his letters in this season of gratitude. Forever grateful to learn the lessons Paul taught.
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.
Lord, teach us to draw near to You spiritually even when we cannot be physically near Jerusalem or a church. Let us not drift afar off, out of contact and connection with You. Most Holy Lord God, it was Your plan that the wall of hostility go.
You invite us to enter into Your presence – boldly. Glory Lord! And there is now no barrier, no wall, no veil, no casting lots, and no limits to the number of visits separating us from You.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 8:38-39 (NLT)
Nothing, no thing, no wall, no person, no evil thing can separate us from God’s Love!
Let us remember to leave those shattered pieces of the wall where Jesus left them – at the foot of His Cross.
10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Because of Christ and our faith in him,we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.
President Ronald Reagan boldly told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall!” Here’s the deal – God’s plan was for Jesus to tear the veil to the Most Holy Place as Jesus defeated death and tore down the wall. The wall of hostility. The wall that separated us from being wanted, invited and always welcome.
For this is the Good News. Jesus did.
And the wall comes tumbling down in our hearts…