In November of 1979 Pink Floyd released the best selling double album of all time called “The Wall”. It was a kind of concept album, a rock opera, that tells the story of Pink, a disillusioned rock star whose self-imposed isolation from society is symbolized by a wall.
Interestingly, in November of 1989 (exactly 10 years later), another iconic wall was in the news. The Berlin wall was built in 1961 to separate East and West Berlin. It was the separation of two political ideologies and it became symbolic of the cold war, of oppression and control. Many lost their lives trying to make their way over the wall to freedom.
Just a few months after the wall came down Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and writer of “The Wall”, performed the rock opera in “no-man’s-land” between East and West Berlin. Historically, this is the only concert to ever have taken place in two separate states simultaneously.
Why do we build walls? The president of the United States is determined to build a wall between the US and Mexico to keep illegal immigrants out. In his address to the nation he said that people “don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside.” The truth is, the world is full of walls. Some ancient walls are still visible today, like the Great Wall of China. It is so large that it can be seen from outer space.
So again I ask, why do we build walls? I think the most obvious and probable answer would be for protection. When we build a house, with it’s walls, we’re building it so that we are protected from the elements. We’re also building it to protect our belongings. When the military builds armoured vehicles the walls of the vehicle are designed to protect the occupants from harm. In the old west, forts (short for fortification) were built ... complete with walls. Again, protection was the purpose.
We also build unseen walls to keep other people out. Perhaps their way of doing things is different than ours or maybe they look different than we do. Sometimes an invisible wall is constructed because someone has hurt us. Our desire is to protect ourselves from being hurt by them (or anyone else) again.
Consider this. Before Jerusalem’s walls were repaired the book of Ezra tells the story of how the temple was rebuilt. There may have been some nervous tradesmen as they did their temple restoration work. With broken walls around Jerusalem, what would prevent the enemy from coming in and destroying everything they worked so hard to build?
It’s at this point that Zechariah prophesies concerning Jerusalem. The walls would be repaired in about 60 years but he speaks of a future time when Jesus reigns in the kingdom age. “Jerusalem will be a city without walls… I will be the wall around it and the glory within it” (Zech. 2:4-5).
Here’s the truth. Jesus came to break down barriers, walls, and strongholds. At best the walls we build for ourselves are only walls of false protection. They are ineffective, hurtful, and counterproductive. Jesus invites us to follow him, to trust him. Then, as we abandon the walls we have so carefully built, we will hear God’s voice saying, “I will be your wall and I will place my glory within you.” Jesus’ presence will be the only wall we’ll ever need.