Perhaps you have seen this meme before. It proclaims, “Heaven has a wall and strict immigration policies. Hell has open borders.” I’ve seen this posted all over social media, and often by people who consider themselves Christians. Even well-known Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress said on Fox News, “The Bible says even Heaven itself is going to have a wall around it. Not everybody is going to be allowed in.” (Newsweek)
I must admit, this offends me. The idea of a wall along our Southern border does not offend me, but poor Biblical exegesis used to support a political position does. Please allow me to explain by picking this meme apart.
First, heaven does have a wall.
When describing the New Jerusalem John writes in Revelation 21:12-22,
“It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” 15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia.[d] Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits[e] by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
Not only is it a wall, but it is a high wall. It is quite impressive, exquisite and quite expensive. It is certainly worth more than $5.6 billion.
Second, Heaven does have strict immigration policies, sort of…
As a Bible-believing, conservative Christian, I do not believe everyone will enter into heaven. Jesus Himself stated that, ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Those who reject Christ will not enter into those pearly gates. The early Apostles declared, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Heaven is reserved for those who embrace the salvation given by Jesus Christ and Him alone. I believe that 100%.
But, does that constitute a “strict immigration policy”? It seems like it. But, let’s keep this all in context. The people using this meme are trying to convince us that we need the immigration policy that Donald Trump is has put forward. Let’s see what he has said.
In his first appearance announcing his candidacy in Trump Tower he said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” (Newsday)
Back in May, now as President, Trump said, “We have people coming into the country or trying to come in, we’re stopping a lot of them, but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.” (USA Today)
It is clear that the purpose of this wall is to keep the bad guys out. We call it border security because we want our country to be safe. A flood of drug dealers, rapists, and terrorists crossing over a porous border will only bring us trouble. It is almost like an invasion force, or so we are told. Simply out, we want to keep out the undesirables.
But, is that what heaven is all about? Did God create a wall around the New Jerusalem to keep out all the bad guys? The answer is no. Jesus is clearly not trying to keep out the bad guys or undesirables. Instead, it is just the opposite.
While Jesus was calling his disciples to follow him, among them was Matthew. Matthew was a tax collector, one hated by his own people as a traitor and a thief. Right after Matthew was chosen, we see this passage in Matthew 9:10-13, “And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Notice who Jesus chose, sinners – those rejected by good society and upright people. He wanted them to come, accept his message, and follow him.
The Apostle Paul noted that those who followed after Christ were not the “skilled workers,” or the rich or those with respected reputation. Instead he wrote in I Corinthians 1:26-29, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[c] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God.”
Later on in that very same book Paul again comments about those who follow Jesus. In I Corinthians 6:9-11 we read, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Look at that list. There are some pretty “bad hombres” listed there. The one thing they had in common was they embraced the gospel of Christ. But if you backed up a few steps you would have to realize these bad people came to Christ because someone invited them. Romans 10:14-17 tells us that people do not believe unless they have heard and they did not hear unless someone was sent to them. These were bad people, but loved people. The followers of Jesus wanted these people to come into the Kingdom of God.
So, yes, heaven has a wall. Yes, not everyone will enter into heaven. But no, the immigration policies are anything but strict. Even the worst of sinners is welcome to come and embrace the message of grace. He is not only welcome, but invited. All that is needed is trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ. No good works are needed (and in truth no good works are possible). Ephesians 2:8-9 remind us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” We don’t enter into heaven because we have earned it.
Paul points us back to Abraham to show us the blessing of justification. Romans 4:1-3 detail this great doctrine, “What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness, not his works. We enter into heaven only because the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us through faith alone.
The truth of the matter is, we all are sinners guilty of rebellion against God. Romans 3 is pretty clear in its condemnation of all people in verses 9-13, “For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 6:23 goes on to say that the consequences of sin is death. We all deserve the death penalty. In the eyes of God, we all are the undesirables that a wall surrounding heaven ought to keep out.
Yes, those whose names are not found in the book life will not enter the kingdom. But what is interesting about this wall is that its gates never shut according to Revelation 21:25. There’s no need any longer. Those who have rejected Christ are no longer a threat. Instead, the inhabitants of this city will “bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.” In other words, all nations from all the earth are welcome here. There are no visa lotteries or travel bans in this day. Christ has come and has conquered all. Sin is no more. Here, in this city, people from “every tribe and language and people and nation” will all worship together. The entire earth is under the dominion of the Lamb of God All races and people are welcome here.
Third, Hell has an open border policy.
Yes, anyone is welcome in hell. But, remember, there is a long line to get there. Jesus said it would be the broad way that many would follow into destruction. There’s no doubt that hell is much easier to get into than heaven.
But, one small note about hell. Jesus, talking to Peter, in Matthew 16:18 declared, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Hell has lenient immigration policies, but it also has a wall.
The point of all this is that we cannot simply draw an easy parallel between the wall tha one day will adorn heaven and a wall President Trump wants on our southern border. Again, just because heaven has a wall doesn’t necessarily mean it is a mandate for us to follow. You may also recall that in the Old Testament Joshua was told how to knock down the walls of Jericho. That doesn’t mean that we must known down all the walls that exist on our border today.
I agree with the assertion that Speaker Pelosi is wrong to declare walls to be immoral. But that does not therefore mean it is God’s mandate for us to have one. Whether you like the wall or hate it, let’s not twist God’s Holy Word to fit our political agenda.