While Tami and I were in China visiting our daughter, we saw some of the historical places in and around Beijing. One of those was the Great Wall of China. Construction on the wall started in 221 BC during the Qin dynasty. At its peak, the wall was over 13,000 miles long. Over the years many sections fell in disrepair and ultimately were rebuilt during the Ming dynasty in the 1400-1500’s. Now there are about 5000 miles of the wall that are left, which is still quite impressive. It has thousands and thousands of steps (we walked several hundred of them) and was built to provide protection against enemies. All along the wall are towers that provided a place for the soldiers to live and to be able to see for miles around. The wall is an incredible feat of engineering and construction for any time-period and is called one of the great wonders of our world.
This Great Wall is also a picture of what happens in relationships because of selfishness, failures and ultimately, because of sin. I am very good at building walls. My walls are not constructed with bricks, mortar, and stone but they are strong. They can be just as impenetrable as the Great Wall of China. They allow me to keep people out, protect myself, or withdraw. I build these walls when I don’t want people to pry, ask questions, or give me help.
I know better
I can handle it
I don’t need any help
I want what I want when I want it
My wall goes up and no one can get in. Fortunately, there is one who came to break down our walls, who came and broke down THE wall…the wall that existed between God and man. In the Old Testament, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies once each year to make a sacrifice on behalf of the people for their sins. This Holy of Holies was a sacred place and it was separated from the rest of the temple by a curtain. That curtain acted as a wall—a wall separating a sinful people from a Holy God.
But when Jesus said, “It is finished” while hanging on the cross, an incredible thing happened. The curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn in two…and it was torn from top to bottom. Because Jesus made the sacrifice on the cross and took our sin upon himself, he made it possible for the wall between God and man to be removed. The great wall of separation was torn down.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
We can now enter the Holy of Holies (and into God’s presence) because of Jesus’ work—not ours. By his power the ultimate wall of separation was removed. But this is what I have learned (and sometimes I have to learn it over and over again), I can’t tear down any walls without Jesus’ power. I am great at building “great walls” but I cannot tear them down. Only Jesus can. It is through an authentic, vibrant relationship with him that walls come down. Prayer, confession, humility, and a recognition of my dependency on Jesus are all important steps in breaking down my walls.
The Great Wall in China? An impressive site that I would highly recommend. My great walls? They can be very impressive too, but for all the wrong reasons. Thank God, that Jesus not only has the power to break down the ultimate wall between God and man, but he has the power to break down the walls I build as well.