It was on this day in the year 418 that a law was adopted whereby no Jew could hold public office nor any official position within the entirety of the Roman Empire. By this time, Rome had adopted Christianity as the state religion, the Nicean Council had met and the church, heavily influenced by Western culture, most definitely took a turn away from its Hebrew Roots. As a result, anything that was considered to be “Jewish” was looked upon with great suspicion. This suspicion would eventually result in Jews being forced to live in ghettos throughout Europe, particularly in Italy, reinforcing this segregation between Jews and Christians. With that in mind, it’s interesting that in 1848, on this same day, the 16th of the second Adar, the ghetto pillars of Ferraro, Italy were destroyed by Jewish students in response to the repeal of this ancient law.
For the Jewish people, these students breaking down the pillars and walls of this ancient ghetto would be comparable to the Germans breaking down the Berlin Wall at the collapse of the Soviet Union. For those who remember that historic time, the images of the wall crumbling, piece by piece, says so much. Mankind built a wall to separate people and isolate those caught behind the walls from the rest of humanity. They adopt oppressive laws and persecute the people in their tyrannical grip. Then God responds to their cries and prayers and reduces those walls to dust and rubble. This imagery reminds us of what the Messiah came to do in regard to walls:
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:14-16)
Most of us have read this particular passage many times, no doubt, but let’s take note of the fact that the wall Messiah broke down was a one built by men. It was a wall comprised of their opinions, their instructions and their dogma. The wall Messiah broke down was one that separated people that He intended to be one. And so then, Messiah lay down His life in order to dismantle a wall so that people could be one. Unfortunately, men busy themselves with building up walls that are intended to divide people, many times thinking that they are doing God a favor. In fact, the very wall the Messiah dismantled, religious men have desperately tried to reassemble.
In the Second Temple, there was supposedly a sign posted that warned non-Jews not to cross a certain point or be subject to death. The intent was to demonstrate that there existed an invisible barrier that non-Jews were not to cross. Though based on laws of sanctity, it came to represent a religious mindset quite prevalent during that time. In fact, Peter acknowledged this mindset when he went into Cornelius’ house in Acts 10.
Where Christianity is concerned, throughout the centuries the Church has gone to great lengths to distance itself from anything considered Jewish or Hebrew. Frankly, this is why so many believers balk at embracing anything they perceive as “Jewish” even if it is actually “Biblical.” Might it be that, instead of seeing ourselves as a branch that was grafted into an already existing olive tree, planted in Hebrew soil, some Christians have tried to plant a different tree, altogether?
Whatever our logic is, and from whatever point of view we’re looking at this issue from, we must come to terms with this: the Creator’s heart and His intent is for restoration. If there is to be restoration, man-made walls must be torn down. So then, whatever is in His heart needs to be in our heart. Let’s not reassemble a wall that the Messiah tore down. Let’s lay aside our opinions, our positions and dogma that would divide us so that His purpose might be fulfilled; that we would be restored and ready to be presented unto the Father, as one body.