There are many words for “wall” and there are many different types of walls. Some walls are designed to keep people in, and some to keep threats out. Walls can be used for security and protection, or they can be discriminatory and divisive. Some walls are simply a physical reality, and some seem to be completely arbitrary. In the physical sense different words for “wall” include barrier, fence, curtain, veil, obstruction, separation, divider, barricade, blockade, border, partition, and bars (as in a prison). A river or ocean might serve as a wall if there is no means to cross the body of water, and similarly a range of mountains or a canyon can be impassible. Gravity and time are physical walls. Time cannot be reversed and thus the past cannot be revisited, and gravity keeps us from entering outer space. Historically, ethnicity, “race”, male/female, and age/generation have been huge areas of division. In a social context, ideas such as prejudice, discrimination, exclusion, bullying, racism, language barrier, bigotry, hatred, pride, nationalism, segregation, inequality, homophobia, xenophobia, and poverty come to mind as barriers that separate people. Differences in religious, cultural and political beliefs can be difficult to bridge.
One of the first “walls” in the Bible was later described in Luke 16:26 (ESV) as a “great chasm” which “has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us”. This is the separation between Heaven and Hell – there is no way to cross from one to the other, but everyone is ultimately heading to one or the other. Ultimately this represents a separation from God. At the time of Creation, man walked freely alongside God in the Garden of Eden. Man was created by God to have this intimate relationship with Him. Sin had not been born, so there was no separation between God and man. However, when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, and of their own free will ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (after being commanded and warned by God not to do so), sin was born in the form of disobedience. At that instant, there were severe spiritual and physical consequences:
Man could no longer walk intimately alongside God. While man could communicate with God and God with man, there could be no face to face interaction. This became both a spiritual and physical separation of God and man.
Man was cast out of the Garden and a barrier was erected preventing man from eating from the Tree of Life. Thus, man was destined to die rather than live eternally on earth.
All of Creation was subject to the “fall of man”. Death, disease, pain and suffering came into the world. While man was always intended to work (tending the Garden), now this work was with toil and suffering, and for women childbirth was with suffering. All of Creation groans until the original relationship with God can be restored.
This great chasm, this separation of man from God, is the ultimate “wall” facing mankind. It is a spiritual wall with eternal and physical consequences. The entire Bible is written about this separation, and how it will be restored. The cause of this separation, this “wall” between man and God, was man. Man willingly disobeyed God, but because of God’s great love, a solution was planned by God for reconciliation.
What about the morality of the separation of man from God due to man’s disobedience (sin)? Is it evil that there should be consequences for sin? Certainly not, especially since man was forewarned by God that there would be dire consequences for disobedience. However, there is also forgiveness and a pathway to reconciliation between man and God. The barrier that was erected by man through sin will be torn down by God.