There’s been a lot of talk about walls lately. The wall we are hearing the most about these days is the infamous “border wall” that politicians are debating about building. This wall would keep out illegal immigrants, and its discussion is causing quite a controversy amongst the American public.
But today I’m not focusing on this wall. Though some may deem this wall extremely important, I think there are other walls that should demand our attention.
In the Bible there’s an unforgettable story about a man named Nehemiah. He was a prophet of God, called to the nation of Israel at a time when they were serving what some would call “the worst time out on the Earth.” The kingdom of Judah (southern kingdom) had been destroyed by the Babylonians. The Kingdom of Judah was taken into captivity for seventy years, as prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah, who came before Nehemiah. The warnings by the prophet Jeremiah had not been heeded, thus hurling the kingdom of Judah into judgment. The punishment came in the form of an invasion by a ruthless, pagan nation.
After the seventy years, God softened the heart of King Cyrus of Persia. The King miraculously allowed the Jews to return to their land in Jerusalem. He even sent the Jews with the sacred vessels that had been taken from the First Temple that was destroyed. He gave them money to begin their project to restore the temple, and the city of Jerusalem.
Enter in the prophet Nehemiah. For some time Nehemiah worked as the cupbearer for the King of Persia (at this time it was King Artaxerses). Nehemiah has never lived in Jerusalem, yet he has a deep yearning and love for it. At some point Nehemiah becomes distressed. He has heard his people in Jerusalem are worried and overcome. Their distress is over the walls of Jerusalem, which are in shambles. They are charred, battered and lay in ruins. The people have returned to their beloved city, but there are no walls to protect it. Seeing Nehemiah’s distress, the King grants a request for Nehemiah to go to the city of Jerusalem. The King appoints Nehemiah governor, even allowing him to use wood from his forest to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
And so it begins. Nehemiah ventures to Jerusalem with the daunting task of rebuilding the entire wall around Jerusalem. While there he would face great opposition from Judah’s former enemies. The Ammonites, Samaritans, Philistines and Arabs would mock and threaten Nehemiah and his workers. Nonetheless, Nehemiah kept going and kept building. He assigned families within Jerusalem sections of the wall. Each family was responsible to do their part in making sure their section of the wall was strong and skillfully built. The insults and threats continued, yet the response of Nehemiah and the people of Judah was, “THE GOD OF HEAVEN WILL GIVE US SUCCESS. WE HIS SERVANTS WILL START BUILDING, BUT AS FOR YOU, YOU HAVE NO SHARE IN JERUSALEM OR ANY CLAIM OR HISTORIC RIGHT TO IT.” This verse comes from Nehemiah 2:20. The number of the verse- 2:20, reminds me of TITANIC. The doomed ship TITANIC sank into the icy waters of the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912 at 2:20 A.M. The warnings of icebergs were ignored. Nehemiah and his people knew God gave them a job to do. They knew God was with them. What they said to their enemies was a WARNING.
Look at the end of the verse which says, “BUT AS FOR YOU, YOU HAVE NO SHARE IN JERUSALEM OR ANY CLAIM OR HISTORIC RIGHT TO IT.” This was spoken to the ENEMIES of Judah. Now think about this. Right now there are enemies of Israel committing horrible acts against God’s people. God has given Israel the historic rights to their land- the land they reclaimed back in 1948, and in 1967. Yet, their enemies continue to mock them day and night. Yet, we know God says the land belongs to Israel. In fact, Jerusalem is the one spot in the world that is in hot dispute amongst Jews, Christians and Muslims. This one small, but important city is being claimed by many. The Bible is clear. If we go all the way back to Genesis, as well as the books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Ezekiel and really the entire Old Testament, we see that Jerusalem belongs to God- to Jesus. It belongs to the Lord’s ancient people- the people of Israel. Of course, the Christians and Jews are on the same branch according to the book of Romans. This holy branch together has a stake in Jerusalem.
The Palestinians want to claim Jerusalem at this very moment. Two days after the last blood moon on September 28, 2015, the Palestinian flag was raised at the United Nations. This symbolic act is a precursor to what the United Nations wants to happen- they want Jerusalem to be divided! They want a Palestinian state, which claims East Jerusalem as its own. Now, go back to that verse- Nehemiah 2:20- “BUT AS FOR YOU, YOU HAVE NO SHARE IN JERUSALEM OR ANY CLAIM OR HISTORIC RIGHT TO IT.” God is clear. Jerusalem does not belong to the enemies of Israel. Trying to divide Jerusalem is the biggest iceberg we will ever see! Titanic’s sinking at 2:20 is equal to the enemies of Israel trying to claim Jerusalem. As Joel 3:2 states, “I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and DIVIDED UP MY LAND!”
Do you know what happened the last time we decided to divide God’s land? Let’s go back to August 2005. The United States government helped broker a deal for Israel to give away the Gaza Strip. This deal was supposed to usher in peace with the Palestinians. Israel gave up this land and by August 28, 2005, all living Israeli settlers had left the area. On this day, however, the graves of former Israeli residents were dug up, so the bodies could be relocated. This very day, Hurricane Katrina attained Category 5 status, and began heading for the United States. By August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina had devastated New Orleans. The damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina left the United States with a hefty bill to pay. In fact, Hurricane Katrina is the costliest natural disaster to hit the Unites States! There were over 50 levee breaches during the storm, which allowed the storm to do the worst damage.
Levees are essentially “small walls” built to keep water out. Yet, these walls failed. Some say it was the engineers’ fault. But, I wonder. Was that what really caused the problem? It took Nehemiah and his workers 52 days to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. Yet, it took a Hurricane minutes to destroy over 50 levees (walls). What are the Chances?
You see, God has a plan for Jerusalem, and for Israel. He knows the beginning, and he certainly knows the end. We are all players in the Kingdom. God is currently working on rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem. We can be on board with him, or on board with the Titanic.
There is a wall in Jerusalem right now. It is referred to by Christians as the Wailing Wall, but its real name is the Western Wall. This wall is part of a much larger wall that stood during the time of the second Jewish Temple. It was built by Herod the Great- the same Herod who had all babies under two years old killed in Bethlehem when he heard about the birth of Jesus. When Herod originally built this wall, he was trying to widen the area that was part of the Temple Mount. He began by having it flattened, and then he had four walls built around it to support it. The Western Wall is one of the support walls. It’s interesting because even when the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., the walls around the Temple Mount were not destroyed. They were still standing! The Western Wall is special because of how close it was to the Temple’s Holy of Holies. This Western Wall was closer to the Holy of Holies than the other three walls. What’s even more amazing is the fact that THIS WALL did not fall into Israel’s possession until the 1967 Six Days War! Now you know why I call my website 67 OWLS!!! In fact, in 1948, when Israel became a nation again, the Western Wall was in the hands of Jordan. The Jewish people were not allowed to pray there. In 1967, an amazing thing happened. During the Six Days War Israeli paratroopers entered through the Lion’s Gate and at that point the Western Wall was once again claimed by Israel. Since that day the Western Wall has been visited by millions of Jews and Christians. One tradition practiced by visitors is having their prayers placed in the cracks of the wall.
Isn’t it interesting that this wall was once so close to the Holy of Holies? Jesus himself is the High Priest, and he is the one who ushers us into the Holy of Holies. In Matthew 24, Jesus says, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you not one stone here will be left upon the other.” Jesus was speaking about the destruction of the Temple, which would occur after his death. Jesus would become the Temple. It’s interesting to me that the paratroopers who entered to claim the Western Wall did so through the Lion’s Gate. Jesus is called the Lion of Judah. This very area would have been the place where Nehemiah and his people began rebuilding the wall around Judah- not the same specific wall as the Western Wall, yet symbolic since it was the entire wall around Jerusalem they were building. Jesus, of course, will be the one to rule Jerusalem one day. He is the gate to salvation, and the gatekeeper for all of Jerusalem. He will come back as a lion!
Now let’s get back to the United States. I already mentioned the border wall. But there’s another wall you may not have thought about. It’s called the SLURRY WALL. You’re probably wondering- What is a SLURRY WALL? A slurry wall is a wall that is used to keep groundwater from flowing into structures being built in an area that has a high groundwater table. For instance, when the original World Trade Center Towers were built, a slurry wall was constructed to keep the Hudson River from flowing into the building area. Without the slurry wall, the foundation of the Twin Towers could not have been built. The slurry wall allowed building to take place without the constant flow of water impeding the process. This slurry wall remained in place as the towers were constructed, and remained throughout their existence. No one knew how important this slurry wall would become in the future.
Let’s talk about that wall further. It’s the year 2001 and the 9-11 terror attacks have just happened. Two planes crash into the North and South Towers, causing the collapse of both towers, and the deaths of over 3000 people. Yes, the buildings were destroyed, but something remained. What was it you ask? It was that SLURRY WALL! Yes, it was the slurry wall that was placed under the ground to support the foundation of those two very famous towers. On that fateful day this slurry wall did not buckle under the insurmountable pressure of an attack that equaled the energy of a small nuclear bomb. The 70- foot deep foundation did not flood with the water from the Hudson. Imagine- if the wall would have broken, the water would have breached the subway system, causing double, maybe ten times the damage! Here’s an interesting fact- the engineer who was in charge of the building of this wall arrived in New York in 1967. He would be the one to make sure this wall would be sound, strong and viable. Look at that date! There’s the 67 again– hoot hoot! Truthfully, without this engineer, the slurry wall would not have been built and neither would the Twin Towers. Yet, the wall he built, though it didn’t save the towers, did save the city from severe flooding that would have made the rebuilding and clean -up effort an even more monstrous task. Yes, this was an important wall- symbolic and important. If you visit the 9-11 museum you will see this very wall, displayed as a reminder of this miracle.
The Pope visited a few months ago back in September 2015. His visit coincided with the arrival of the last blood moon, which occurred on September 28, 2015. During his visit, he hosted an interfaith ceremony in front of this slurry wall, called the Foundation Wall. Here, in front of this wall, different religions professed their truth. Yet, what about the one, real foundational truth? Was it professed? Jesus Christ is the rock and the foundation. No one comes to the father except through him. This wall, which saved New York City from complete devastation, stands as a reminder of the tragedy that occurred on 9-11. On the day of the interfaith ceremony, in front of that wall, was the truth professed that Jesus is the only one who can save us? Our country’s foundations began with him, and they must end with him as well. He is the only wall that can protect us. There’s one truth- Jesus.
But I ask you one question. Who is our God now? Is it money? Think about it. Who is our country’s God? Let’s look at one more wall. This wall used to be an actual wall many, many years ago. Now it is a street. It’s called WALL STREET. You know all about Wall Street don’t you? You know all about the 2008 collapse and how it was tied to corporate greed- to money. Well, Wall Street began with a wall. During the 17th century there was a wall that stood on this street. It was built by the Dutch to keep out the British and the Native Americans. This was before New York became a British colony of course. The wall started out small enough, and was more of a fence. But over time it grew and became 12 feet tall. Eventually the British invaded and they took control of New Amsterdam, renaming it New York. The British tore down the wall and instead built a street. And there you have it- Wall Street. The original wall didn’t keep the invaders out did it? No, the British came in. Eventually the “Americans” came in with the advent of the Revolutionary War. Why didn’t that original wall work to keep invaders out? Perhaps it’s because of one key factor- GOD.
This is the key point. In all that we do, whether individually or as a country, God is in control. He will accomplish what he sets out to do. He has laid out his plans in his word. His word says we should stand by him, and with the nation of Israel. We can build wall after wall after wall. We can build the biggest border fence/wall and let it reach to outer space. But, unless God is behind our actions, the wall will not stand. Invaders will find a way in. Why? Because we have cracks in our wall. We are missing the key element- God.
Wall Street can fall one day. It took a hit in 2008. The 9-11 slurry wall could have fallen, but by God’s grace it did not. The Western Wall in Jerusalem still stands to this day– a reminder of God’s plan for Israel. And what about Nehemiah? Let’s go back to those prophetic words in Nehemiah 2:20. “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” So I ask you, what are you building? Are you building God’s house or your own? Are you building your stock portfolio, or are you focusing on God’s stock index? God’s stock index says to take stock in his plan. His plan never loses value and it certainly won’t plummet. God is building up Jerusalem. Even though enemies continue to mock his sovereign plan, it will come to fruition. You can be a builder, or a mocker. I don’t know about you, but I am a builder. I am trying to lay each stone, one by one. Each stone of the wall is important. It will take hard working families to build the wall as it did in Nehemiah’s day. The families of God are the ones who will have to lay the stones today. Are you ready to do this? Pick up that stone. It will be heavy- it may even be a burden. But pick it up and lay it down. God is counting on you.
Picture at the top is from my trip to New York City a few years ago. This marker sits below the statue of George Washington, who is standing in front of Federal Hall, which stands at 26 Wall Street.
Federal Hall is the site of our nation’s first capital building. (Remember New York was our nation’s first capital). This building sustained cracks as a result of the 9-11 attacks in 2001.
It took Nehemiah and his people 52 days to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. Federal Hall stands at 26 Wall Street. 26 times 2 equals 52.