Hostile Worship Environment

Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility

Have you ever worked in a hostile work environment?  How about lived in a hostile home?  It’s no fun.  The word hostile means: unfriendly, opposed, or aggressively against.  When you are in a hostile environment, you may feel scared or left out or even threatened.  It is no way to live.  The Gentiles knew the feeling of hostility.  They were not allowed to worship God the way the Jews were.  They hadn’t fulfilled the obligations of the law, therefore they could not commune with God.

Once Jesus came on the scene, things began to change.  He came for all mankind, not just a certain group of people. Paul was sure to preach this message.  But here in the church at Ephesus, there were still divisions taking place.  There were still Jews trying to convince the Gentiles that they didn’t quite measure up; they weren’t quite equal to God.  This caused problems that needed to be corrected.  Paul says in verse 14 that He [Jesus] Himself is our peace.  He has made the two one.  This seems like a strong enough argument, but Paul takes it farther.  He doesn’t just say that the two, Jews and Gentiles, are now one.  He moves into territory that would hit the Jews where it counted.  He targeted the temple.

There was great significance in the illustration that Paul used here.  The dividing wall of hostility was not just a figurative expression – it was a literal wall. It was a barrier in the temple that divided Gentiles and Jews.  It was set up in order that Gentiles would be kept out of the most Holy places.  On it the following words were inscribed, “Whoever is captured will have himself to blame for his subsequent death.”  This seems pretty hostile to me!  If a non-Jew was caught past these large inscribed stones, they were subject to death.  Wow.

This doesn’t sit too well with Paul, given the fact that Jesus came to make a way to God for all of mankind.  So he tells them that Jesus has removed the dividing wall of hostility.  It has lost its meaning, its significance, its purpose.  It is no longer needed.  This statement must have ruffled some feathers, I am sure.  Paul was going after a sacred element of  temple worship.  He didn’t care though, because it was wrong.  There is not a person more worthy to God than another.  There is not one more holy or more deserving.  There is not one who can draw closer to Him.  Jesus opened it up. He eliminated the barrier so that all could come.

2 thoughts on “Hostile Worship Environment

  1. This reminds me of a time when my unsaved brother was visiting us. At our last meal before he flew home to Grand Junction, Colorado, (that required a plane change in Denver and finding space available for a flight to home)I prayed that God would make his flight home easy and available. When he got home he said he was surprised at his “luck” in getting quickly on a flight from Denver. (He flies space available for free as husband of a retired United employee.)

    He thought, however, that I certainly wouldn’t have the kind of access to God to have such a request answered. He doesn’t understand what Brad just explained here; we all have access. We’re all God’s direct children. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (Jn 1:12)

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