Walls That Divide
Ephesians 2: 11- 22
Under the disguise of night on Aug. 13, 1961, a wire barricade was stretched the middle of an ancient city. This barrier ended up 28 miles long and became one of the most controversial boundary lines of the 20th century. It not only divided an ancient city in half but also divided a country in half. It not only divided a country in half but was a symbol of a divided way of life. I t was a political division, a economic division and a way of life division.
The barrier eventually became known as the Berlin Wall. It was the symbol of the border between Communism and Capitalism; oppression and freedom; control vs. creativity.
The west side of the city was controlled by what was called the Allied forces, which included France, Great Britain and the US. The east side was controlled by the Communist, the Soviet Union being the main force. (Map)
After the wall was built, a mine field was place on the east side. This was not to keep people from entering the east side as much as it was to keep people from leaving. On the west side of the wall large signs were posted that read, “ Warning! You Are Now Leaving W. Berlin!
People by the 10’s of 1000’s were leaving the east and heading west because it was sensed that the east was oppressive and freedom laid to the west. This move of people caused embarrassment to the Communists and a horrible labor shortage.
East Berlin became the capital of East Germany and West Berlin became an unincorporated state completely surrounded by E. Berlin. W.Berlin sat 110 mi. within it’s border. Those who tried the journey from E. to W. were beaten, jailed even shot. Some successful attempts had to be creative: tunnels, hot air balloons, special vehicles with secret compartments.
The wall itself was a symbol of something much bigger; different ideologies that separated those who were free from those that were in bondage.
Winston Churchill popularized the phrase, “Iron Curtain.” It was his attempt to describe the Soviet Union’s attempt to isolate their people from ideas in the west that would challenge the leadership’s control and power.
Some have described China’s attempt at isolation as the Bamboo Curtain. In our own culture the term glass ceiling has been used to describe the barrier to woman to move up the political or economic ladder and gain success and positions of power.
Today in our text from Ephesians we read about words that come from the background of another wall and another barrier. Paul will actually be describing a wall that separated the Jewish world from the rest of the world.
Paul speaks to a barrier that Christ had symbolically but in a very real way- torn down. Note vs. 14
Eph. 2: 14 “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.”
The dividing wall was both a real wall and an attitude that was expressed in religious, cultural and social ways.
Some of this makes sense if you realize how the Jewish temple was built. The temple of Jesus’ time was actually the 3rd Babylonians. The 2nd temple was built by Zerubbabel with the encouragement of Ezra and later the prophets Haggi and Zechariah. The 3rd temple was actually a restoration or reconstruction of the 2nd temple. It was larger, possessed more splendor and beauty than the previous.
The entire complex was about 250 yards square. (Area 12,13) Parts of the roof were 37 ½ ft. high and the halls created by the columns were 45 ft wide. The closer you walked toward the center of the complex the higher the elevation.
One of the outer courts, which had no roof, was called the Court of the Gentiles. (Area 11) It was open to all people, Jew and non-Jews. As one would look to the center of the complex from this court, the first thing you would see in front of you was a wall about
4 ½ feet high (area 10). This was the cut off point for all non-Jews. You could not approach toward the temple any further.
Just so there was no doubt about this, large signs made of white limestone slabs were placed on the wall. The signs read,
“ No foreigner may enter within the barrier and enclosure round the Temple. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.”
To put this in plan terms – If you are not a Jew and are caught past the wall you will be executed. To enforce this and other rules, the Temple had its own police force.
(Temple) Jewish women could go beyond this wall but only into the next court and then no further. (area 7) This area was the general a place of public worship at the time of the sacrifices.