Q: #416. Would God/Jesus build a border wall?
A: This topic of whether it is right or wrong to build a border wall is at the forefront of conversation today (March 2017). Building a “great wall” between the U.S. and Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants has been a centerpiece of President elect, and now President Trump’s campaign. This subject gained momentum back in February 2016 when Pope Francis (in a veiled shot at Mr. Trump) said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel.” The Pope has been joined in the U.S. by the liberal media, Hollywood, and millions of others in condemning a “great border wall.” SO…. what does the Bible teach on this? Would God/Jesus build a border wall?
You might be surprised to learn that the Bible is FILLED with verses speaking of walls. The words “wall/walls” are used 245 times in the Bible. Many of these are speaking of walls somewhat like a “border wall.” Walls were nearly always built around cities in the Bible. Many were HUGE (Deut 3:5)! It is said that the wall surrounding Babylon was 387′ high and 87′ thick! The Hebrew word “chowmah” is most often used for “wall” in the Old Testament, and Strong’s defines it as “a wall of protection.” This was the primary use for walls; for protection from those who lived outside the city (as well as from wild animals). They kept unauthorized people from entering the city, and also protected the people of the city from attack.
This sounds very similar to why President Trump and many others want to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, doesn’t it? But, the question remains, did God approve of doing this? It seems clear that He did. The clearest example that most use is found in the book of Nehemiah. In Chapter 1, Nehemiah received word that “The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down and its gates are burned with fire.” Upon hearing this, Nehemiah fasted and prayed to God. Shortly afterwards, Nehemiah made a request to the king to return to to Jerusalem and rebuild what had been destroyed, and the king granted his request. After Nehemiah arrived and surveyed the damage by night, (Neh 2:17-18) records him saying to the people:
“Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. (18) Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.”
Nehemiah clearly believes that God is behind this work to rebuild the wall. He says as much in (Neh 2:20) saying, “The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build…” Chapters 3-6 record the building of the wall, concluding with (Neh 6:15-16) saying, “So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. (16) And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.”
God was behind this work to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. However, as you read these chapters in Nehemiah, you will also see that they faced opposition from many people who did not want a wall to be built (rebuilt). In particular, two men named Sanballat and Tobiah were leading the charge to stop it. Some compare this opposition to the opposition we see today in building a wall in the U.S.. Whether this parallel is legitimate or not, it is worth noting.
This example in Nehemiah is not the only example of God ordained wall building in the Bible. “Good” kings Solomon (1 Kin 3:1)(1 Kin 9:15) and Asa (2 Chr 14:7) also built walls to surround cities. God instructed that His Tabernacle be surrounded by a 7 and a half foot high white linen fence (see Ex 27:9-19). God’s Temple had a wall around it.
In end times, we see that the New Jerusalem will have a wall around it with 12 gates (one for each of the 12 tribes). In describing the New Jerusalem in (Rev 21:9-27), (Rev 21:12) says, “And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel…” And, notice what (Rev 21:27) says about who cannot pass through the gates in the wall, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” In simpler terms, the wall is a separation between those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior from those who have not!
(Rev 22:14-15) reaffirms this, saying, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (15) For without (outside the walls) are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”
(*** Note: Most consider this “wall” around New Jerusalem to be figurative rather than literal.)
The Bible also speaks of God being a “wall” or “hedge” of protection surrounding those who belong to Him (Job 1:10)(Zech 2:5)(Ps 34:7)(Ps 5:12)(Hos 2:6-7).
Friends, the Bible pretty clearly affirms that God/Jesus is not opposed to building walls for protection. The primary opposition to building a wall or walls, particularly within the U.S. is that it is not the “loving thing to do.” We must “build bridges” to those from other countries, helping them, sheltering them, providing them with them medical care, and more… Yes, the Bible does command us to do this, but the Bible also shows us that we have the God-given right to protect our nation from evil. We can protect our nation from evil, AND help those from other countries, but there is a process for this to happen, and it should be followed. Those immigrating should follow the laws of the land they are entering, and not break the law. God commands all people to obey and submit to ruling authorities (verses here: here).
P.S. It is interesting to note that the Pope lives behind huge walls in the Vatican, which were built by previous Popes centuries earlier for protection. In addition, nearly all of those in Hollywood who are leading the charge against building a wall, go home to houses surrounded by walls or gates to keep out people who might cause them harm.