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No More Walls

The Jewish temple had a “no trespassing” sign that prevented all non-Jewish persons from going beyond a certain area. It was enforced on the punishment of death. The non-Jews could go only so far as the Court of the Gentiles, and the Jewish women could go only so far as the Court of the Women.

The temple was surrounded by courts that formed layers of separation from the inner shrine of the Holy of Holies. The innermost court was the Court of the Priests who constantly attended the daily sacrifices and led in the worship of Yahweh or the LORD God. Next was the Court of Israel into which only Jewish men could enter and worship. After this was the Court of the Women, which indicated, that Jewish women could go no further into the temple. The outer perimeter was the Court of the Gentiles with a five-foot barricade that went around the entire temple enclosure. At intervals on the wall separating the Jewish from the non-Jewish people were inscriptions warning that no non-Jewish persons were ever permitted to enter the Jewish enclosure upon the punishment of death.

Archaeologists found such a stone inscription in 1871 dating back to the Jewish temple. It read, “No foreigner is to enter within the banister and embankment around the sanctuary. Whoever is caught will have himself to blame for his own death which follows.”

The bottom line was, “Trespassers will be killed.” In fact, the apostle Paul almost got himself killed in the temple because of false rumors that he took a Gentile into the sacred area (Acts 21:27-31).

Jesus tore down the wall. No, He did not do it with His hands. He did it with His cross. “But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13 NET). Powerful is the message of the cross. Paul goes on to describe the effects of the blood of Jesus on the wall of separation. “For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility . . . He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed . . .” (vv. 14-16 NET).  

The sin barrier between man and God was removed by the death of Christ and as a result man is reconnected to God. Jesus provided the only way that man can approach God. He effectively removed the dividing walls.

It is through Christ Jesus we both [Jewish and non-Jewish] have our access in one Spirit to the Father (v. 18). The result is “you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household” (v. 19).

The cause of the perpetual hostility has been removed. Sin was dealt with at the cross. The enmity has been so completely laid aside that complete friendship follows. Where there was hostility Christ has accomplished reconciliation. We are at peace with God.

God was the offended party and he took the action to remove the enmity. It is a divine action that removes the barrier. It is not that the two sides come together as if it were voluntarily or as equals; it is the superior one bringing the other into this position of complete harmony and accord.  

God made reconciliation. God the Father sent God the Son to pay our sin debt in full by dying on the cross. He bore the punishment due to us for our sins and as a result restored our fellowship with God. The cross of Jesus made a way for us to come to God by faith.

Moreover, because the way to God was restored by the death of Christ our fellowship with Jews and non-Jews has been restored if they are also in Christ. Note carefully, peace will come only as individuals are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Sin brought about hostility. Jesus removed that hostility.

Since the greater wall has been completely removed there is no need for the lesser walls of separation. They came down with the wall that separated us from God. But the veil came down only in Christ. If God has torn away the wall of separation between him and us there can never be a wall that separates others in Christ from us. In fact, the great truth of the passage is we are all members of the one body of Christ (vv. 13-18).

If we are one in Christ, then in his eyes we are one with every other believer. There are no Jews and non-Jews, slaves or free, in Christ. We are all “in him.” The wall was torn down with the thick veil in the temple that kept everyone out of his holy presence including the Jewish men. The only exception was the high priest on the Day of Atonement, and then only on that one day of the year.  The veil was torn from top to bottom and we can all enter into God’s holy presence through the blood of his Son.

We have all been reconciled in “one body to God through the cross.” “So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household” (NET).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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