Tear Down This Wall!
Mr. Gorbachev, Tear down this wall!
This is one of the most memorable statements in recent history for those of us who grew up under years of constant fear over nuclear war between the ever-threatening Soviet empire and the 'free West.' With a former actor as president of the United States who somehow used his charisma to unite and inspire his country to dream larger, more noble dreams, coupled with growing signs of a weakening of the repressive powers that had created what was termed 'the iron curtain' that stretched all across Europe holding millions of people in galling bondage, this challenge by Ronald Reagan was like a jolt of reality for people on both sides of the divide.
This 'iron curtain' had been like a wall of death for many years against anyone longing to escape the prison of Eastern Europe for the freedom of the West. It had become a symbol of the tyranny of communism that had promised so much to its followers and yet had failed miserably to deliver on most of its promises for financial and social equality, security and stability in exchange for the loss of all personal freedoms. But the jig was now up and President Reagan had the vision to see that a golden opportunity was present to exploit the vulnerability in the disenchantment of most of those under its repressive regimes. So while visiting the main symbol of this 'iron curtain' in Germany, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Ronald Reagan delivered his famous speech against 'the evil empire' of communism and challenged the leader of that empire to face reality and begin dismantling the lies and physical obstructions that had become so repressive to the people under its tyranny.
I thought of this statement that so electrified the world that day 26 years ago when I was reminded of another 'wall' that needed tearing down to set far more people free from the bondage of tyranny under an extremely repressive government built on lies. Only this time the leader of the free universe didn't bother to challenge the leader of the evil empire to tear it down himself, for everyone knew that 'the father of lies' would never relinquish his control over any of his slaves by admitting anything was wrong. Rather God took things into His own hands quite literally by tearing down the dividing wall in possibly the most dramatic moves of liberation in all of history.
Yet over two thousand years later the vast majority of people who were set free from the bondage of the kingdom of lies still cling to their old ways of thinking and living. Not unlike many who remain stuck in their lie-based systems of living under communism many years after that 'iron curtain' has in fact been torn down so dramatically, those on this planet who today claim to be set free by Christ still live as if they were not free long after that repressive veil was ripped in half by the hands of God.
Why is this? What is so tenacious about the lies of Satan like the lies of communism that makes them so attractive that people prefer living dysfunctionally and repressed rather than choosing to move into real freedom only found in truth? Why is it so difficult even for us to admit the truth after suffering for so long under the galling effects of the lies of Satan? How can we escape the generations of conditioning that have so conditioned our sense of reality, similar to many of those living today in Eastern Europe, that we simply cannot imagine living any other way? And even when we do make moves toward freedom they are only half-hearted at best and we prefer to constantly try to mingle the two ways of living into some strange amalgamation and call it religion.
Ironically it appears that the iron curtain has not completely disappeared, either from Europe or in our own hearts as Christians. Although many of the physical realities on the ground have radically changed in the intervening years since Reagan helped change the course of history, there are still millions of people living in Eastern Europe who still cling to the old ways of thinking and seem incapable of appreciating the freedoms that surround them.
And for millions of Christians today the same is true. Though Jesus fully exposed the curtain of lies about God by demonstrating the real truth about Him not being the tyrant that He is accused of being, and simultaneously the literal veil in the earthly temple was being torn apart, the oppression of that veil of lies has now grown even more pervasive in our minds. Now we need to again be delivered from devastating lies, this time about the true meaning of the cross, or we will never be prepared to meet the One who died on that cross when He comes again displaying the flames of passionate love which are the very essence of His glory.
As I watched this speech by President Reagan possibly for the first time in its entirety, I was moved with emotion and was surprised at how much of that speech seemed to have prophetic similarity to much of what is taking place in the much larger war between the forces of light and darkness. Many things mentioned in this speech reminded me of how God is seeking to overcome evil while working under apparent handicaps of truthfulness and love. But in the end it will be seen that love really is more powerful that force and fear, though at this point in the war it seems to be just the opposite.
Just a little over twenty six years ago, Ronald Reagan spoke these famous lines.
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
Just a little over two thousand years ago at the very moment that Jesus expired on the cross, He cried out with a loud voice, “It is finished! In essence, what He proclaimed in that cry was something along this line: I have now exposed the evil empire for what it really is by shining the light of truth about God on the slanderous lies of Satan about what God is like. Now it can be seen that they are totally baseless and fraudulent. In the blazing light of my demonstration of what God would act like if He were a human, I have discredited every accusation against Him by openly revealing His goodness and love under the most severe circumstances. Now all may see clearly that freedom can experienced through love, unconditional forgiveness, humility and irrepressible kindness. This is what I have demonstrated about His character all the way to the point of death after enduring all the abuse My enemy could throw against Me. This is the real truth about how God feels towards sinners! This is the truth that has the power to set every captive free!”
Jesus died, not because of the external abuse He endured but primarily from the internal effects on Him from the sins that every one of us participate in that He took responsibility for Himself. By experiencing the full effect of sin, the death He had warned our first parents about in Eden, the veil of lies was effectively ripped open for the onlooking universe and all of humanity to see past. Simultaneously the physical veil in the earthly temple in Jerusalem was ripped in half.
What is the significance of the veil in the temple? Why did God attack that veil the separated the two compartments of the earthly sanctuary? What was the problem with that veil that God had such eagerness to eliminate it so violently?
This is a point that many who have studied the earthly sanctuary often miss. Moses was instructed to have pictures of angels woven into the surface of that veil that blocked any views of the Most Holy Place where the ark of the covenant sat. This ark represented the most sacred throne room of God, the very center of the universe from which flows all power that sustains all of creation. The Ten Commandment Law was hidden inside the ark under the mercy seat which demonstrated that this Law represented the very character of the one on the throne. The mercy seat hiding the Law underneath it represented Christ Himself. In fact, the word translated 'propitiation' in the New Testament actually means 'mercy seat.' When this is understood properly many confusing notions about the death of Christ can be rectified.
God had instructed that this veil be put into place to prevent the people from staring into the Most Holy Place and suffering death as a result of seeing God's unveiled glory. Yet this was not God's original plan for humanity. The veil in the temple had multiple meanings and it is important to perceive the real truth about it. God knows that if sinful beings come too close to seeing His blazing glory of love (God is love), the effect on them will be counter-productive, as in death.
Love does not want death but always wants to give life. So how is it that what is meant for life can result in death? The problem is not with God but with the distortion of sin and how the lies of the great accuser pervert life into becoming a source of death. Paul pointed this out rather succinctly when he wrote,
So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. (Romans 7:12-13 NRSV)
Many have proposed that the only way God could resolve the problem of sin was to do away with the Law. They have assumed this because they believe that keeping the Law, or disobeying the Law, is the main issue with God. If people break His rules then they assume He has to punish them. But this belies a deep misunderstanding of the core issue of sin and our relationship to God, the only source of life.
Sin is not primarily a breaking of rules and thereby inducing guilt that demands punishment. This is the nature of the counterfeit system set up by Satan. Rather, our real problem is that through believing lies about God perpetuated by the arch-evil angel who used to live in the very presence of God, we have been made vulnerable to dying from coming to close to the very source of life itself.
This may sound confusing at first, but it is the very problem of sin itself. Sin is like a glass through which everything is terribly distorted. And like a magnifying glass in some respects, it has the ability to so distort the light coming into it that it can cause destructive fire on the other side. That is just a small part of the problem but begins to help us understand that the problem is not at all with God but with our perceptions of Him. Distrust is at the heart of a sinful mindset; and when one distrusts the only source of life that keeps us in existence, we no longer are able to receive that life directly from Him. The lies inherent in the false beliefs we hold about Him so pervert our perceptions of His passionate love that they bring damage to us instead of health and life and joy.
This distorting curtain of lies about what God is really like is ever presented to us by Satan and his host of evil comrades who joined him in his rebellion before they lost their place in heaven. So when God instructed Moses to portray angels on the curtain blocking the view of the ark which represented His very throne, we should not assume that these angels represent God's holy messengers sent to bring us life. These angels are more accurately interpreted to be the fallen angels whose lies keep us in the dark about the real truth of God's character and how He feels towards sinners. And this heavy veil of lies is the one thing in the model sanctuary that God wanted destroyed, for it represented all the lies of His great enemy that keeps all who have come under the control of sin from trusting Him and being reunited with Him in love.
This darkness of misapprehension about God had become so intense by the time Jesus came to this earth that it had become nearly impenetrable. That is why God chose that time to send Jesus as a vulnerable baby into this world to demonstrate that God is not the tyrant of force and fear that sinners have believed He was. God came to demonstrate His character of perfect love, yet the only way He could effectively convince us of this was to become one of us and show us what love looks like in human flesh. Then we could be attracted to begin trusting Him again, and in so doing the veil of lies about Him could be torn down, the iron curtain could be dismantled, and God could again be united with His children who had for so long been separated by the lies of the real tyrant.
Jesus spent His whole lifetime here on earth showing the universe what the Father's character really looks like under abuse, suspicion and vicious attacks that His enemies could muster against Him. In every situation He demonstrated the perfect love, compassion, kindness and unconditional forgiveness that marks the true character of His Father. This demonstration of unmitigated love so threatened the forces of darkness that controlled the world and religion that they had to kill Him. But even in that process of extreme abuse, Jesus brilliantly revealed even more clearly the true nature of God's character of perfect love no matter how much abuse was used to try to get Him to do otherwise.
In fact this is what you were called to do, because Christ suffered for you and gave you an example, so you should follow in his footsteps. (FBV) Christ never committed any sin. He never spoke deceitfully. (GW) Although he was abused, he never tried to get even, (CEV) when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation, (NET) but left everything to the one who judges fairly. (GW)
He was carrying our sins when his body was put on the pole, so that once the sins were gone, we could live righteously. For, 'by his wounds you were healed.' (2001)
Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross. He did this so that we would stop living for sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you were healed. (ERV)
You were like sheep that went the wrong way. But now you have come back to the Shepherd and Protector of your lives. (ERV) (1 Peter 2:21-25)
So why, nearly 2000 years after Jesus ripped apart the curtain of lies that prevented us from seeing the truth about God, does religion today seem so ignorant of that truth today? Why is it that we have come to view the cross as some sort of appeasement of an angry God ready to lash out at any who dare to offend Him by breaking His arbitrary rules? How is it that we see so little liberation from the lies of Satan if Jesus effectively ripped that veil in two so long ago?
The issue revolves around the link between love and freedom. Love cannot exist outside of an atmosphere of complete freedom, which means one is always free also to not love. Freedom always involves a personal choice and is not something that can be forced onto people (force is the very opposite of freedom). Millions still live in the darkness of oppression from the lies of Satan, for they are unwilling to believe the good news of their liberation (salvation). After Jesus came, Satan reacted to the expose´ of the cross with a vengeance to counteract the liberation of the truth about his tyranny. In reaction he has flooded the world with a whole new raft of lies distorting and perverting the very meaning and purpose of the cross, that demonstration designed to liberate the victims of his deceptions.
Now it is time for another frontal confrontation between the lies of the kingdom of darkness and the emerging truth about the real kingdom of love and grace. Once again it is time for the truth about God to expose and discredit the false accusations of His arch-enemy, the master deceiver, the father of lies. This time God is going to use a group of people who are so willing to humble themselves, who are so loving and possessed by God's Spirit that they will be the ones to again live out the same kind of life Jesus lived under the most severe and threatening circumstances this earth has ever experienced.
Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:1-2)
Once again it is time to tear apart the veil of lies that have been woven together to obscure the real truth that the cross revealed about God. It is time for a people who choose to be willing to stand up and challenge the world systems, to tear down walls of bigotry, lies, hatred and distrust of God. And the way this wall will be torn down, the way this veil will be ripped to shreds is through again demonstrating what human beings may look and act like when they choose to live in total dependence in an intimate relationship with a God of perfect love, compassion and unconditional forgiveness. Once again the world will see in flesh and blood a demonstration similar to what it witnessed in the life of the Son of God. Only this time instead of ending in a crucifixion (though they are fully willing to die for the sake of love, and many of them indeed may), the story this time will end in the greatest rescue operation ever witnessed in history.
Jesus Himself is going to show up at the most critical moment when the evil empire seems ready to annihilate all goodness and truth from the earth. Jesus will initiate a dramatic rescue the likes of nothing we can hardly even begin to imagine. In doing so He will again expose the lies of the enemies of God through the light of His glory, but this time He will come to collect all who have been resting in Him in their graves along with those loyal ones left living to take them all home with Him to heaven. Then will commence a thousand years of preparation for the last final confrontation. That is when the rest of the story will unfold, when the rest of the dead will be raised to encounter shame and everlasting contempt and finally eternal death.
Are we willing to attack the veil of lies that still obscures our own vision of the Most Sacred Place where God longs to one day experience full intimacy with His bride?
Are we willing to allow the Holy Spirit to unravel all last remnants of these lies that still obscure our view of God's heart in our hearts yet today?
Are we ready to become a last day John the Baptist in concert with his predecessor Elijah to be used by God to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers (Father) and the hearts of the fathers to their children? Are we willing to be so transformed that we may be viewed as extremists, willing to love and forgive and live free of all resentment or desire for retaliation to the extent that Jesus did?
This can only happen when we become willing to humble ourselves and be filled with the same Spirit that guided and motivated Jesus so we can be empowered to live the same kind of life that He lived. Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to live here on earth free of the lies or the acting out in sin. But this can never happen through our own efforts to eradicate sin from our lives, but rather through falling in love with the beauty of Jesus. Then our lives will become so passionate for Him that we will come to only do whatever the Spirit prompts us to do that is in harmony with the Word of God and the life and teachings of Jesus – nothing else.
It is time to tear down this towering wall of lies.
It is time to destroy once and for all this veil of evil forces intent on keeping us in darkness and fear.
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:16-19)