The Great Wall
Almost a year ago my wife and I had our first-ever opportunity to visit the Great Wall of China, in the outskirts of that great nation’s capital, Beijing. Like most everyone who’s been there, we came away with great awe at the marvel of the massive and extensive engineering work done by these ingenious people long, long before the time we call “the modern age.”
According to history, the Great Wall was built over many decades with one main purpose: to keep out the Manchus and other hostile races in the north that the Chinese considered undesirable. In this way the Chinese also walled in the Chinese Empire’s citizens so that, undisturbed, they could maintain and cultivate what the Chinese leaders have called their “civilization.” As a result, there came about such flourishing of the arts, crafts, culture, a common language, science (as they knew it), trade with other nations, etc. that the empire had the world astounded — until this “Giant” fell asleep. Now, this Giant has awakened and, as had been predicted by some, the world is being shaken by it!
A reflection on walls
I’m not here going to discuss the geopolitics of China! Rather, I would like us to reflect upon walls in light of what the Bible reveals concerning walls and what we could learn from this exercise.
Why do people set up walls?
First, of course, is the obvious reason: for protection from whatever outside challenges there may be. Fences, fortresses, barriers — these are things people have set up, like walls, to keep unwanted people and harmful beasts out, and to keep their own people safely inside so that they are undisturbed, as much as is possible, in their pursuit of whatever they desire.
From the least to the greatest, people have put up walls and fences — from walled or fenced homes, to “gated” and heavily guarded subdivisions, to walled cities, to walled kingdoms, to walled empires — for a second reason: to preserve a certain lifestyle (call it “culture,” if you please) of the people within the walls.
Many walls may be actual, physical walls. But perhaps most walls people build around themselves are psychological and social walls. Through a person’s attitude one can keep out other people by unconcern for another than oneself or what one calls one’s “empirical self” — the significant others in one’s life: family, friends, business associates, etc. And that attitude can result in doing things for and toward others: positive acts towards one’s own group, and hostile (or “I-don’t-care!”) acts towards those one would consider one’s enemy/enemies — or simply no relations at all.
Because individuals, families, clans, tribes, nations, and bloc of nations have their own lifestyles — and invariably those lifestyles conflict in one point or another with the lifestyle of other people — there have been personal and communal conflicts since the dawn of human civilization.
See, for instance, the history of human violence starting with the first-ever murder, that of Abel by his own brother Cain, because they differed in their perception of what was pleasing or displeasing to God. Differences like this proliferated as the human race multiplied, culminating in such epidemic violence worldwide that God had to stop it from decimating all of mankind, by sending a globe-girdling flood that spared only Noah and his family (Genesis 4 through 9).
Thanks to God and to Noah and family, all of us humans (and other life forms) roaming this earth today are here — as had been those before us. The rest of history shows that mankind has never learned from history!
How did it start?
It all started right from the very beginning of human civilization — in the Garden of Eden, and then outside of it. [See: The Flaming Sword East of Eden.] When our first parents chose to disobey God by eating the fruit which He had forbidden them to eat, they opened up the floodgates of “each man doing what is right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). [See: "Your Eyes Will Be Opened!"]
Since that great “bad decision” by Adam and Eve, mankind has set up individual or tribal or national or supranational kingdoms and empires — each with its own concept of what is right and what is wrong. And — as one quick look at all the religions, cults, ideologies, political and social movements that there have ever been in this world will reveal — mankind has piled up horrendous conflict and bloodshed all these millennia of human history, on account of the differences in perspectives and worldviews on how life ought to be lived. (Why are many nations’ histories often defined by the string of wars the nations have fought or been involved in?)
We have all so come to a tipping point in our history that, if things don’t turn around for the better, this our human race will have had it! Jesus described our times today being “as in the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37). [See: "The Next Chapter of History."]
Breaking down walls
If it were left to human beings to break down the walls that divide them from other human beings, we would only be frustrated and overwhelmed with hopelessness. If we looked at ourselves honestly, we human beings would rather hang on to our individual or corporate “walls” as hard and as long as we can! We have tried the League of Nations, and now the United Nations — and look at the results! Nations have remained disunited, and have been at war — and will be — more than ever before!
If we are to survive at all, God will have to do it for us — and, thankfully, He will (Matthew 24:21-22)!
Remember what God did to the high and seemingly impenetrable walls of Jericho? [The story is found in Chapter 6 of the Book of Joshua; black Americans sing about it in their jaunty spiritual, "Joshua F'it the Battle of Jericho" -- "...and the walls came a-tumblin' down."] On their way to the Promised Land, the children of Israel found the walled city of Jericho an obstacle of some sort. All that the Israelites did was to march around the walls, and God took care of bringing the walls down Himself. [See: Breaking Down our "Walls of Jericho."]
When Christ returns with power and glory as King of kings and Lord of lords, He will topple the walls that men have put up for themselves, whether physical walls or symbolic walls: ideologies and belief systems (with their accompanying prescriptions on how to live and conduct themselves before their “God” and their fellow men).
Isaiah 2:12-17 – “For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted [that is, above God] — and it shall be brought low — upon the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon the oaks of Bashan; upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up; upon every tower, and upon every fortified wall; upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all the beautiful sloops. The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.”
God makes special mention of Moab and her high walls. The “diviner” Balaam used the women of Moab to tempt the men of Israel into committing fornication with them, and then to trick them into following the idolatrous worship of the Moabites (see story, beginning in Numbers 22 and culminating in Chapter 25, and the charge God gave to Moses concerning the Moabites, in Numbers 31:1-3, etc.). Notice God’s recompense on that nation’s way of life as symbolized by her walls:
Isaiah 25:10-12 — “For on this mountain the hand of the LORD will rest, and Moab shall be trampled down under Him, as straw is trampled down for the refuse heap. And He will spread out His hands in their midst as a swimmer reaches out to swim, and He will bring down their pride together with the trickery of their hands. The fortress of the high fort of your walls He will bring down, lay low, and bring to the ground, down to the dust.”
Jesus will also destroy the walls of Gaza, Tyre, and Rabbah (Amos 1:7, 10, 14). In the early years of Christ’s rule on earth, the region of Gog and Magog and their allies (a confederacy of various Asian and Middle Eastern nations) will have been as yet unreached by that rule. They will think to attack the Holy Land, but they will be stopped short by Christ (Ezekiel 38:1-23). Notice Verse 20, latter half: “…The mountain shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.”
Yes, even the Great Wall of China will fall! — as will every other wall that man may boast of as symbolic of the nation’s “culture” or “civilization.”
The “walls” that the children of Israel have built for themselves — their own ideologies and beliefs contrary to God’s Word — will not be spared either! Speaking about Jerusalem (as symbolic of all Israel) in its future “visitation” (by enemy forces), Jesus said: “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:43-44). Jesus was speaking here not just about the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1-2), but every structure that has “one stone upon another” — walls and houses and other buildings.
Ezekiel 13 compares the false teachings of the prophets of Israel to a wall which they have plastered with “untempered mortar” (Verse 11) — something that will not last. This is symbolic of the teachings which they have exchanged for God’s truth! God declares His judgment on that “wall” and those prophets [which can apply to today's religious teachers]: “Thus will I accomplish My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it with untempered mortar; and I will say to you, ‘The wall is no more, nor those who plastered it, that is, the prophets of Israel who prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace’” (Verses 15-16).
Only one “Way” when Christ rules
Jesus will come soon to take power from Satan, who now rules this world. [See: Where Did Satan Come From?] Revelation 11:15 declares: “The kingdoms of this world [will] become the kingdoms of our Lord [God the Father] and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.” Daniel 2:44 adds: “And in the days of these kings [the last human kings of the earth] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people…” Certainly not to people who are destroying the earth (Revelation 11:18)!
Jesus will rule this earth with the help of His resurrected [or changed] “saints” — those who have His Spirit (or had It in their lifetime) — for an initial 1,000 years (Revelation 1:5; 20:6; Daniel 7:27), and beyond. [See: Predestination.] Jesus will rule the nations with “a rod of iron” (Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15). With Satan and his demons put away (Revelation 20:1-4) — and “gagged” — no more will the mortals who remain on earth under Christ’s rule hear the lies that Satan has perpetuated among men.
Only God’s “way” will be taught then, by His glorified team of co-rulers and co-teachers.
The teaching and application of the true knowledge, faith and practice of Christ will then spread over the whole earth. As Isaiah 11:9 describes it, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain [symbolic of God's kingdom or government], for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
Jerusalem’s walls to be rebuilt
When Jesus rules this earth with His saints, there will be such peace in all of the earth that people will not need the security of walls, fences, fortresses and barriers in order to feel safe. Micah 4:4 describes this idyllic condition as one in which “…everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.” As a model for all nations at that time, Jerusalem will have villages that are so safe that they will be totally “unwalled” — no walls, no bars [that is, protective bars -- not pubs!] nor gates (Ezekiel 38:10-11).
Yet, wonder of wonders, the prophecies about the future of Jerusalem speak about Jerusalem’s walls being rebuilt!
Speaking of a future time — after Christ returns to set up God’s kingdom on earth — the Bible reveals that Israel will be restored to the place God had originally prepared for her (Acts 1:6). In that setting, Isaiah 60:10 says, “The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you, but in My favor I have had mercy on you.”
Micah 7:11-12 says, “In the day when your walls are rebuilt, in that day the decree shall go far and wide, in that day they shall come to you from Assyria and the fortified cities, and from the fortress to the River, from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.”
Why rebuild the walls of Jerusalem — what for?
With peace upon most of the earth during Christ’s early reign here, Jerusalem will not need walls for protection against enemies, who will not succeed in making any inroads to Jerusalem anyway (Ezekiel 38). Even beasts — many of them wild, ferocious and a threat to human lives now — will have their natures changed in that kingdom! Such beasts will become docile (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25), and will pose no threat to humans, who will then not need the safety of walls.
Jerusalem’s walls, then, represent something else!
Foreigners will come from all nations to Jerusalem not only to help rebuild its walls and other structures, but also to learn about God’s ways. Isaiah 2:2-3 describes this “exodus” by foreigners to Jerusalem: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain [symbolic of a kingdom] of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains [symbolic of other kingdoms], and shall be exalted above the hills [symbolic of lesser kingdoms]; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion [the mountain in Jerusalem] shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Micah 4:1-2 echoes this.
As we’ve been saying about the “walls” that individuals, groups or people and nations build around themselves, these are the “ways of life” — the lifestyles — by which these people live. While Jesus will come to destroy every wall, He rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem. Why? The walls of Jerusalem in that kingdom of Christ will be a symbol of the ways, paths, the law and the word of Christ that will emanate from within those walls!
The walls picture the limits, boundaries or “parameters” in which people can have true liberty to live their lives to the fullest. As James 2:12 calls God’s law, it is “the law of liberty!” Psalm 119:44-45 shows the real spirit behind the law of God: “So shall I keep Your law continually, forever and ever, and I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.” [See: Freed From Bondage and No Walls, No Ceiling?]
And, because only God’s way will be taught and followed by all nations then, the only walls anywhere will be in Jerusalem!
The true “Great Wall”
After every single human being will have had their fair chance to receive the saving knowledge of Christ [see: Predestination], all that human hands have touched (“the works”) on this earth will be purged by fire.
2 Peter 3:10-13 describes this time: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
This is a different aspect of the “day of the Lord” — which will begin at the return of Jesus Christ and will continue until Jesus finishes the work of placing everything under subjection to Him, before turning everything over to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:27-28). This burning up of all the works and elements of our present heavens and earth with fervent heat will precede the real climax of all history: the coming down of God the Father, together with the Holy City — the New Jerusalem, to dwell with “men” (then made perfect through a resurrection or change to Spirit and immortality) on this renewed earth (Revelation 21:1-3).
Is this “fervent heat” the same fire that Christ will spew out at His return (or “second coming”)?
Some have equated the “fervent heat” that the apostle Peter wrote about, in 2 Peter 3:10-12, with the fire which Jesus will destroy the wicked with at His return (Isaiah 66:15-16).
This seems to be the time frame, because Peter describes the coming of the “day of the Lord” “as a thief in the night” — similar to how Christ’s second coming is described elsewhere (Matthew 24:43; Luke 12:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:2).
However, if the “fervent heat” that Peter describes as melting heaven and earth were to be the same fire that Christ brings to destroy the wicked at His return, then not a single mortal human being — let alone animals and other living things — would survive!
But that is not what the Bible tells us! Isaiah 24:6 assures us about Christ’s return to judge the earth: “Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and a few men are left.” Isaiah 6:11-13 indicates that some 10% of the entire house of Israel [see: God's Kingdom and Israel] will survive that devastation. If we are to base God’s judgment on Paul’s testimony in Romans 2:8-9, we can understand that God will also do to the Gentiles as He will to Israel. After this devastation, then, some 10% of mortal human beings from all nations will be the subjects of God’s kingdom on earth which Christ will come to establish.
The only way for people to survive the “fervent heat” which Peter mentions is for them to become immortal as God promises to His saints — changed to Spirit: everlasting, not affected at all by fire or similar form of destruction. That will happen when all that should be in God’s divine family are saved! [See: Predestination.]
Granted that, why is coming of the “day of the Lord” — with fervent heat, at the end of the ages — described like “a thief in the night?”
This is an expression to show that no one really knows the exact time of Christ’s second coming — nor the fearsome fiery event Peter describes here, before we have “new heavens and a new earth.”
Nevertheless, the apostle Paul gives us this hint: “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that that Day [the Day of the Lord] should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6). And Amos 3: 7 adds: “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secrets to His servants the prophets.”
God knows when to reveal His secrets to His servants. They just need to wait patiently for Him to do that.
This is that “true tabernacle which the Lord erected and not man” (Hebrews 8:2), the “city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
The “fervent heat” will have melted even Jerusalem and the temple — and everything else on earth produced by man during Christ’s reign here. Like a new garment, the New Jerusalem will replace what will then be the “old” Jerusalem (Isaiah 54:6). And the temple (rebuilt as prophesied about in Ezekiel 40-48 [see: The Temple in Ezekiel 40-48]) will no longer be there! In Revelation 21:22 John saw this vision of the New Jerusalem: “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God almighty [God the Father] and the Lamb [Jesus] are its temple”!
Notice what, instead, will be there in that New Jerusalem (among other things): “Also she had a great and high wall…” (Revelation 21:12)! The rest of the verses in this chapter describe the exquisite components of that wall, its foundations, its gates and how the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles are involved in them. [See: God's Kingdom and Israel.]
Again, this wall will not be for the protection of the Holy City. No sinner or unclean person will be allowed to enter that City, nor even walk on the highway leading to the City (Isaiah 35:8). As in the millennial rule of Christ (Isaiah 11:9), no destroyer will be allowed in that City.
The wall of the New Jerusalem stands for God’s way of true holiness that will remain forever and ever (1 Peter 1:22-25). This is the true “Great Wall” — and there will be no other! [See: No Walls, No Ceiling?]
Jesus is working — as He has been working over the past centuries — and will work even more firmly in the future, to “restore to the people a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord” (Zephaniah 3:9).
When everyone will line up with God’s “pure language” — which is the outward expression of the inner thoughts and concepts of our pure and holy God — we will all be able to worship and serve God “with one accord!”
God has begun that work toward unity among those He has chosen and appointed for salvation at this time [see: Predestination]. Division within the Church — the Body of Christ — has always been a problem since Christ established the New Testament Church of God on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after Christ rose from the dead. That is because Satan remains the “god of this world” until he is put away. He is behind every lie and every sin that separates men from God and from fellow-man — including brethren in God’s own Church!
Paul says that now Christians are in a spiritual battle with Satan and his minions — as well as our battle with our own thoughts, words and actions. Paul exhorts us: “For though we walk in the flesh [our present physical state], we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [fleshly, physical] but mighty in God [because spiritual] for pulling down strongholds [the individual and corporate "walls" we have set around us -- our human concepts, our standards of behavior, etc.], casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). [Paul writes about this struggle Christians have and offers further exhortations about keeping up the fight, in Ephesians 6:13-17.]
Thus we will all have “the mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:1-11). We will “speak the same things” and will be “joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). We will think, speak and act within the confines of God’s perfect ways — His “Great Wall.” [See: World Peace -- At Last!]
May we whom God has now called, and is calling, to His kingdom and holiness break down our own “walls” and remain within God’s “Great Wall!”
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.