And the Wall fell down

Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The anniversary was marked by a demonstrative display of dominoes, 1,000 in number and giant in size, toppling in celebration one atop another where the wall once stood. The commemoration marked the tearing down of East Germany’s fortified border on November 9, 1989, reuniting the city of West Berlin with East Germany. This historical occasion paved the way for the complete reunification of Germany in 1990.

Watching the event, I was reminded of another wall – the wall of Jericho – which came crashing down in Joshua 6. Like West Berlin, “Jericho was tightly shut…; no one went out and no one came in.” Both the Berlin Wall and the wall of Jericho represent a separation of people and values.

The wall of Berlin was erected to limit the exchange between a people embracing freedom and capitalism, and a people enslaved to a government rooted in Marxism-Leninism. The wall fell during a revolutionary wave that swept across the Eastern Bloc. After weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced that all citizens of the German Democratic Republic of East Germany could visit West Germany and West Berlin. For more than a quarter of a century, they were separated, but the people’s courage and determination brought the separation to an end. Many on both sides of the wall rejoiced in the demise of the division.

The wall of Jericho also separated people, people who were divided by their worship. God gave Jericho into the hands of the Israelites because they trusted and obeyed Him as the one, true God. It was “by faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days,” (Heb 11:30) a faith displayed by action, as the Israelites marched around the city until God signaled it was time to shout the wall down. Unlike Berlin, there was no celebration by the people on the opposite side of the wall. No unity ensued, only God’s judgment on a sinful people. However, the fall of both of these walls resulted in victory, in large part because of brave people, united in cause and dedicated to triumph.

These days, it seems we are building more walls in America than we are tearing down. Separations of people and values are more pronounced than in recent decades. I pray Christians will remember the lessons learned at Jericho. While we step out in courage for God’s will to be done, we must patiently await God’s timing and direction. We must be faithful, trusting God for the victory. It is not in our power that we will overcome divisions, but in His. We must stand and march, but peacefully and with a continued focus on God as our eternal Commander in Chief.

Endnote:

U.S. Commander in Chief, Dwight D. Eisenhower, died just 40 years ago in March 1969. His funeral was held in the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., and attendees lifted their voices together in song:

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

Refrain

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.

Refrain

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

Refrain

Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.

Refrain

Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.

Refrain

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

“Thus says the LORD to you, `Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’” -2 Chronicles 20:15

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