My Side of the Wall

A friend of mine recently lost a ring. Not just any ring, but one that used to belong to his grandfather. He is heartbroken. I can relate because I lost a ring my grandfather made for my grandmother. The Lord gently reminded me that the ring is a thing. Our relationship wasn’t with the ring but with the people it represented. When I think of the people, I don’t think of the ring, but rather, the times I spent with them and the lessons I learned from them.

I had the privilege to go on a pilgrimage to Israel. I took mementos from just about every site I visited to remind me of their significance. Olive leaves from the Garden of Gethsemane, smooth stones from the Valley of Elah where David slew Goliath, water from the Jordan River where God held the river for the Israelites to cross into the Promised Land and where Jesus was later baptized (and then so was I!). I am still processing all of the places visited, the lessons learned, and the things experienced.

One place I visited I didn’t bring home a token, I left something: the Wailing Wall. This is the Western Wall of the temple in Jerusalem. This temple was originally built by Solomon on Mt. Moriah, the very place where God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and then provided a scapegoat to be sacrificed instead. This wall is believed to have been the back wall of the “Most Holy Place”, the inner court of the temple where God’s presence resided and where once per year, the High Priest offered a sacrifice for the forgiveness of all the sins of the people (Exodus 25:21-22, 2 Chronicles 6-7). Because God can’t be near sin, there was a very tall, very thick curtain separating the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple. The priest had very strict cleansing rules prior to his being able to enter. Even at that, there was a rope tied around his ankle and bells on his robe in case he wasn’t properly purified and dropped dead in God’s presence. If the bells stopped ringing, he had to be hauled out! They certainly couldn’t go get him!

Tradition now is for you to write out your prayers and stick them into the wall. Because you are so close to where God’s Spirit actually had been, it’s believed that God hears those prayers a little louder, and because of its proximity to where the Mercy Seat was within the Most Holy Place, He answers those prayers according to His mercy.

At the Wall, I saw people pressing their bodies up against the wall, rubbing their faces and hair on it, kissing it, wiping their prayerful tears on it, kneeling at its base, and prostrating themselves before this icon of the presence of the Lord. As I waited my turn to stand in front of the wall to leave my prayers (and I had spent days writing out names and prayers, so had LOTS to leave), I had a thought wash over me as real and as powerful as anything I have experienced…this wall was a memento ONLY! The power was in my relationship with Jesus! God’s presence was actually MORE PRESENT on my side of the stone wall and is WITHIN ME because of my relationship with Him. My prayers to Him ALWAYS go straight to Him! The icon serves as a great reminder of the Old Covenant but holds no power. I Corinthians 6:19 says “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” 

According to God’s Word, at the crucifixion, Jesus made a New Covenant: a way for each of us to ENTER THE MOST HOLY PLACE!!  He tore that mammoth curtain, top to bottom, symbolizing that no more sacrifices are needed! Jesus Christ died once, for all (Romans 10:6, Hebrews 9:24-28). “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a Great Priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

Being at the wall also convicted me that I forget the magnitude of the gift of GOD ALMIGHTY living IN ME! When God’s glory filled the temple Solomon built, it came with fire and bright glory and a cloud and the people fell prostrate in worship. The worshippers at the wall were unabashedly humbling themselves in prayer. I can’t stay prostrate all the time, despite my continual audience with Him, but I sure can keep an attitude of humility and confidence regarding my Most High Resident. 

Just as a ring doesn’t take the place of a relationship with my grandparents, a wall, or written prayers don’t signify my relationship with Jesus. I spend time with Him and learn from Him because of His presence with/in me. The wall is a good reminder of what once was. And it is the very place where the curtain tore to usher in what now is: His New Covenant and personal relationship with all who follow Him.


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