Walls – symbolism

A wall could be an enclosure to a structure that will provide shelter and protection for its inhabitants or it can be that element that defines the perimeter of an area of ownership and are used to fortify. The word wall comes from Latin “vallum” meaning “…an earthen wall or rampart set with pickets”. But in Latin, the word vallum is synonymous with the word “murus” which means a defensive stone wall that is able to carry a load. In English we use the same word to mean an external wall or the internal sides of a room, but this is not universal. Many languages distinguish between the two. The Spanish language makes a clear distinction between pared (a wall) and muro (post).

Pursuant to the definitions above some walls can carry a load, and some provide a buffer against those nagging interferences in our lives, like the noise buffer walls along the side of a highway. There are many uses of walls that can be constructed with various types of materials, there are walls that are constructed with wooden lodge poles that are plastered with mud. Perhaps they are built like in the Roman times where builders would use materials ranging from chalk and sand to Pozzolanic concrete. Unlike the well graded materials that we spoke about formulating the mix of concrete, they would use debris and broken pottery mixed with mortar in order to fill the wall sections

Generally, the walls that we build can either create an atmosphere that is either inviting or deterring. The Berlin wall was built to divide, it created a separation between groups of people, and it divided them into NATO and Warsaw Pact Zones. The walls were not impenetrable, but created an incapacitating mental and emotional condition on the people with oppression, and isolation.

In like manner, prison walls have been designed and built to create a dejecting attitude, built unattractive, and as least inviting as possible.

Matthew 5:14 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

As Christians, in order for us to make an encouraging and a positive difference in this world, we need to become walls that are joyful, inviting, full of life, and not beat down, broken or defeated. We need to stand out, be attractive, colorful and with a positive attitude. A great example of an inviting communal wall is Facebook. It is a social networking site used as an electronic “wall” to log the scribbles of friends. It is a wall that has no economic, cultural, race, or religious limiting boundaries.

Big corporations, like McDonalds, understand the concept of presenting a welcoming and appealing storefront. Generally McDonalds can be spotted at a distance because they have an attractive bright color on its walls, golden arches, and a smiling mascot. In our personal lives, living a different lifestyle than the world, a lifestyle of purity, of encouragement, full of peace are some of the proofs we belong to Him and that our walls need to radiate the joy of the Lord in our lives.

Walls are built with a purpose, and that is to provide sheltering to keep us in a safe environment. In our local construction practices a wood frame house that is built along the coastal area must be built to withstand wind forces that are brought forth from the damaging hurricanes.

Typically, J-bolts (steel rod anchor bolts about 10 inches in length and in the shape of a “J”) are embedded every 32 inches into the concrete footing or slab. Their purpose is to fasten a 2×4 or 2×6 pre-treated base plate (bottom portion of a framed wall) of a wood framed wall in order to resist any uplift from the winds, and from tugging the house away from the slab. On the windward side (the side where wind forces push against the house) the winds of a 140 mile per hour hurricane generates approximately 50 pounds per square feet of pressure. In the evaluating an area of a 40’ long by 8’ high side of a house that equates to about 32,000 pounds of force against the house, assuming a drag coefficient of 2. I do not know that we can place a numeric value on the similar type forces that want to crush us and defeat us, but when we are going thru trials in our lives, it seems as if the force of the world is pushing against us. These are forces that want to trample us, to push us down, and make us give up, those forces that push us to the limit. Forces that want to cause us to be a failure and even uproot us from the very foundation that we should be set on, but the Word says:

Psalms 30:5, God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear. He is our refuge and strength even when the winds blow, and the earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea, but He is faithful and always there, He is ever present in the time of need. On the leeward side (pull of the wind forces) of the building, these forces want to pull us away from His habitation, confuse us with many fears, and separate us from the rest of the body. The Word forewarns us of these type of storms that will come in our life.

Matthew 11:28-30 we are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we do not give up and quit.

Beloved let us be anchored down with the revelation and knowledge of the Word of God in unison with other members of the body so that we can resist those unexpected 140 mile per hour wind gusts that life blow against us, that would otherwise push us or pull us to a yielding point and eventually blow us away. Perhaps a great shaking will take place that will distress our very foundation and cause it to fail if we allow it, but I say that greater is He that is within me, than any opposing forces that is against me. It is no wonder that the word warns us that we will perish (blown or shaken away by outside forces) because of the lack of knowledge of His Word. We need to make preparation and build those storm shelters in our hearts and lives with solid walls, for in season and sometimes out of season when they sneak up. We may be perplexed and troubled but as long as we have the preparation of the Gospel of Truth, we will stand every trial. These walls that we build in our lives will have the ability to resist any outside interference or strong forces that come against it.

In addition to the J-bolts that are used to anchor us down, strong metal straps are fastened to the corners of the house framing, and at principle openings (like exit doors and windows). These straps represent those mature Christians who have knowledge and experience to handle the storms and quakes of life. I know that this may seem silly, but there is a manufacturer of hurricane straps that is named Simpson. Every time that I specify a Simpson Strong Tie like an MABZ, I imagine Samson of the Bible holding down the house. Unfortunately Samson in his rebellion did the opposite. When he least expected it, he was pulled right out of the foundation that he was supposed to have anchored down to. When we get to the place that we think that we are anchored down enough and start looking around and take our eyes off of God, then we will allow sin to uproot us and that storm will gouge our eyes.

If we pull ourselves away from the anchoring and strapping that has been provided, a storm can be let loose on us and it will blow us away.

Threaded rods made of steel and 5/8 inch in diameter are used to anchor from the concrete footings all the way to the upper side of the top framing plates.

They represent anchors for our soul that are safe and secure. These anchors make certain that the things that we do on this earth are a by-product of the obedience of seeking the Kingdom of God first. This is kind of like anchoring heaven and earth, these rods start at the concrete foundation and they project thru the very being of our body, and tie to the top plate of the framing, together anchoring us from the top of our head to the bottom of our feet, and it is shod with the preparation of truth. There are a lot of protective measures that are taken and that is the reason that we are told that Christ will dwell in our hearts and that our roots will be grounded in love.

The next protective measure for our walls comes once all the 2×4’s or 2×6 studs are framed and anchored down. These studs are shielded with sheets of plywood to cover and protect the framing and the interior of the structure. But plywood panels are not just a piece of wood cut from a tree. Plywood sheets are engineered from thin layers or “plies” of wood veneer that are glued together with adjacent layers having their wood grain rotated up to ninety degrees to one another. Similar to the consolidation of the preparation of the ground for a foundation, plywood undergoes a process of spreading down a glue and then compressing the veneer sheets with an immense force applied to them. The final result is an unyielding building material that has undergone stress, pressure, and heat which when it is delivered to the site and attached to the house, and is very resilient. Together, the body of Christ can glue itself together and create such a bond that no matter what forces come against us, we can withstand. Alone one single sheet may be easy to tear, maybe even with our own hands, but a series of plies can stand a lot of shear forces.

Ecclesiastes 4:12, though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

The proverb used in the verse above is substantiated in the Latin phrase “Vis unita fortior est,” which means we are stronger in union. This was the Father’s plan from the beginning: the Trinity, (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); Man, (Spirit, Soul, and Body); Precepts (Faith, Hope, and Love). Where there is a lack of unity, there will be division leading to ultimate failure. If a house does not contain the properly prepared rigid walls, the enemy, (forces of nature), will cause the building to collapse. The failure will not be seen until it is too late.

One way to envision what this unity may look like within the Church Body may be with the makeup of different ministries. A wall has several layers that constitute the whole, as in ministries within the body, each with a specific calling. The music department has many members within itself that bond to make it a strong support. The worship pastor may be the part of the wall most seen, but without the musicians, singers, sound engineers, and support staff, the department will be weak and may fail in their purpose. Just like a pastor that spends countless hours studying, praying, and preparing his sermon, yet he has a support team that is working in the background. It takes a lot of work in preparation and practices for a worship team, it is a composition of different members working together harmoniously, and with a specific assignment to create a melodic invitation to praise and worship.

It is profitable for the Kingdom to find one’s place and calling. Take for example you would not want me to be the music director. I took a college course in Music Theory and to me that class was more difficult than when I took Differential Equations. I could not grasp or was able to maintain a beat for things like half, whole, quarter, sharp, natural, major, diminished, augmented, minor, etc. as it applies to music in my ears. Even the way they write sheet music, it looked like a bunch of Chinese symbols. If it had been me, I would have wrote numbers on the music sheet. After all, numbers are universal. I have heard it said that music is mathematical. It may be, but you have to have talent. I guess that is the reason I am an engineer and not a musician.

This explains the necessity for those sheets of plywood to be placed at specific locations (generally at the corners that are in the same direction of the prevailing wind) in order to resist shearing forces generated from the winds. There is no possessiveness of their calling among these sheets, they know that each have to accomplish a specific job in a specific place. One sheet without the other will be blown away. All ministries find their place where the specific calling is needed.

Just like the plywood sheets, the positioning and amount of nails play a major role in attaching the plywood to the studs. The closer together we are to one another, the greater the force that we will be able to resist when external trouble that come against us.

So to overcome shearing forces from wind, plywood at the corners where wind is more prevalent is fastened at a closer nailing pattern than the other internal sheets.

The nail spacing may be reduced from 6 inches center of nail to center of nail down to perhaps 4 inches center to center on the sheets that are overcoming wind shear. The proper location and construction of those sheets help us sustain those shearing forces that are trying to tear us apart.

Like the wall construction with plywood, it is amazing that a brick wall is built with many members, many bricks carefully glued together with mortar and jointly fit together to build the exterior protective membrane of the house. There are no Lone Rangers, it is a conglomerate of many members (many bricks), and all tied together with brick straps and wire, then attached to the wood framing and plywood. We need each other and when fitly joined in unison can provide shelter for others that are less fortunate. We can become a protective member that will insure the integrity of those that are not as strong.

Isaiah 62:6, I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent,

One warning is that we have to be careful that we do not assume that because we build with stronger materials such as concrete blocks or a poured concrete wall, that we are then safe from harm’s way, that we can walk away and forget about it. The same measure of care, and diligence must be exercised in the anchoring process. If we do not, then we will realize that the forces of this world have come against us, and when we least expect it as a thief in the night, Satan can attack us like a hurricane gust wind or an unannounced earthquake with a great force that can even take a massive wall down. We can take protective measures, with all these straps and design for seismic loads, but we must understand that we wrestle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

We need to learn to be vigilant, guard every side and put on the whole armor, because the enemy will come as a thief in the night. He knows that we live behind walls built with sticks and bricks, blocks or concrete. He knows that we have placed protective measures on the construction, but often times those measures can make us complaisance. He will encamp around us and bring down our walls. There is a story in 1 Samuel 11, where Nahash the Ammonite surrounds the children of Israel at Jabesh Giliad because they got complaisance. They instead of seeking God or fighting back they asked to make a compromise with Nahash. He agreed and he set the terms, he offered that if they did not find someone to help them he would gouge out their right eye. There is so much in this story, but the main principle that I want to bring out is that if we compromise with the world, it will take out our right eyes, make us ineffective and eventually takes us down.

Often times, Satan has been allowed to penetrate our lives, breaching our walls and our ability to fight back is diminished. A wall provides more than just protection from the elements. An appropriately designed and constructed wall is a fundamental part of any structure and it has a far-reaching impact on its occupants.

Job 33:4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

If we approach construction with inexpensive methods and a “keep out” attitude, then the result can be some degree of “sick building syndrome.” Walls should be constructed to allow it to be a “breathing wall,” because when we do the breath of the Almighty will give us life. A wall should allow the breath of God to enter in as He is the Creator of that wall. It is not to be as the walls of the temple where the Sanhedrin allowed only a select few to enter. The walls that we build should be inviting, they should have lots of windows to allow the light of God, to allow the Son light to enter in and fill our hearts with joy. The walls should have a door to allow others to enter in who need sanctuary, those that need to be ministered. The door is to allow us to have a freedom to move around, to enter in and most important to go out and bring the Gospel to the world. We are not to be secluded in a sanctuary with fear as in a prison, waiting on some Nahash to surround us and make us ineffective.

In engineering the physical process responsible for vapor permeability is called diffusion. Diffusion of moisture in air involves movement of water molecules, we in the church call it the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It is He that keeps the right amount of moisture and air in our lives to keep from forming pockets of mold. The walls however, should not be built to keep others out, but to bring them in with their mold infestation, and to allow God’s breathe to purify, cleanse, and give them a new life. The walls of the church should be as a clinic with pulmonary wards in it so that people that have very little to no breath left can be restored. They should be welcomed into the habitation created by the walls to allow what Job said, “to allow the Almighty to give them life.”

All of us have built different types of walls to keep us separated. Some walls are made of bricks and sticks, some are built of block and mortar and some of more permanent materials. Those walls are easy to build, and the outer layers are visible to the naked eye, but there are other walls that keep us apart. There are walls built between people, families, and even church members that are hard to see, some of them are kept in secret, disguised by some facade. Some of these walls take a long time or some even a lifetime to build. The unseen walls are constructed in our hearts with unwanted materials such as pride. They are laid on blocks of misunderstanding, and veneered with colorful bricks of hurt feelings and anger. Sometimes these walls are built on a foundation of religion. Micah tells us that we shall see the downfall of these walls that we build because they are not the walls that the Lord intended for us to build. They are to extend beyond our usual four walls that make up our habitation. These walls shall represent a sanctuary, a sacred place, a consecrated spot; a holy place that cannot be violated by sin, a place of refuge and protection, and a place of shelter.

Joshua faced walls that seemed impossible to tear down. One of the first parts of the walls that Joshua had to take down was the wall of disobedience of his own people that they placed under the leadership of Moses. He knew when he spied out the land that behind these walls were giants that inhabited the Promised Land. In the natural, the city was either to be taken by assault or to surround the people in the city and starve them into submission. Another way may have been to weaken the foundation of the stone walls with fire or tunneling. They might simply mound up a mountain of earth to serve as a ramp. This would have been a long tasking process with heavy losses of God’s chosen people. Joshua had just experienced the journey in the wilderness that should have taken days but took years because of disobedience to God. However, the strategy to conquer the city of Jericho was unique. The strategy was laid out by God Himself, and may have seemed foolish to men. God chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.

God simply told Joshua to have the people march silently around Jericho for six days, and then after seven days they were to shout. Though it seemed foolish, Joshua followed God’s instructions to the letter. When the people did finally shout, the massive walls collapsed instantly, and Israel won an easy victory.

As we go through life, we have obstacles that we face as well. Perhaps it is a lost loved one we would like to see the Lord touch and save, a lost community over which we are burdened, a ministry from the Lord that we feel inadequate about, family trouble that tears at our hearts and leaves us wondering what to do, financial trouble that stresses us to the limits of our patience and faith or a besetting sin that constantly crops into our life. We must learn not to look upon our obstacles as failures, but as opportunities for the Lord to work in our lives! God is more clearly visible when we are totally out of the picture! In a sense, that is what He did with Israel here. He completely removed them from the equation! The victory at Jericho was all God!

Finally we should learn that faith without works is dead. It is not enough to say, “I believe God,” there has to be feet with our faith, we not only have to talk the talk but also walk the walk and then live in a Godly manner. If we truly believe God, our desire is to obey God. Our faith is put to work. We make every effort to do exactly what God says and keep His commandments. Joshua and the Israelites carried out the commands of God and conquered Jericho. There are massive walls in our lives, that in our own intellect they seems impossible to take down. But, God gave them victory over an enemy that was trying to keep them out of the Promised Land. If we have true faith, we are compelled to obey God, and God will tear down the walls that may separate us from Him and each other, He will give us victory over the enemies that we face throughout life. Obedience is the clear evidence of faith, when God directs us to do something, we should simply do it because with Him we are a plurality regardless of what the other spies say. Our faith is the evidence to others that we truly believe in Him. We can conquer and be victorious through life by faith.

The walls that protect our homes from outside environments also provide the sanctuary for the Lord. He has made His dwelling within us, so that in our home, He is there with us. Our home has now become the House of the Lord.

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