A couple of weeks ago we began the discussion of what it means to rebuild the spiritual homes of our lives. Within the discussion we read through the first 12 verses of chapter 3 of Nehemiah where we discovered that the rebuilding of our spiritual homes needs to begin in the consecration of all that we are to our Lord and Savior. As we saw in the beginning of chapter 3, consecration is brought about to recognize something as special, as uniquely set apart for God’s glory and service. That all that we are and all that we are to be is required to be set apart to God and God and alone. Next we saw that the Lord had called the people of God to restore the city gates of their city. That these gates weren’t just physical gates to the city but that were spiritually significant to the people of God and that they are spiritually significant to us today. They were gates of spiritual substance and with that we began by discussing the first gate in verse 1 where we saw that the sheep gate is a representation of the salvation that our Lord provides when we sacrifice our will to the grace and promise that is Jesus Christ. That in order for any of the other spiritual to be rebuilt or experienced by the people of God, that they can only be experienced and rebuilt in our lives if we first rebuild and enter through sheep gate of our Lord. We then stepped up to the fish gate where we discovered this a calling upon each us share the love, grace and faith that has been given to each of us so graciously. As we are called to rebuild this gate within our lives, we also noted that there is no calling upon us to rebuild a theological gate, or a Christianese language gate, but that there is salvation and then there is our mission as believers, to go and make disciples of all nations. Finally we then discussed the old gate that is illustrated in verse 6 of this passage. There we discovered that the Old Gate is a representation of the promise that our Lord provides in the Old Truth that is revealed in the person that is Jesus Christ. That this was a reminder to the people of Israel for each of us to restore our ways back to the Old Truth in our Savior. We are reminded of this in Jeremiah 6:16 “Thus says the Lord, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls”. These are three gates to which our Lord desires to restore in our lives, but this morning, there are 6 more to which we are only going to be able to get through 3 more, so let’s begin today in Nehemiah 3, verse 6.
Scripture – Nehemiah 3:6-18 (NASB)
Builders of the Walls
6 Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars. 7 Next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, also made repairs for the official seat of the governor of the province beyond the River. 8 Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah of the goldsmiths made repairs. And next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9 Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. 10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah made repairs. 11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of Furnaces. 12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs, he and his daughters. 13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars, and a thousand cubits of the wall to the Refuse Gate. 14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, the official of the district of Beth-haccherem repaired the Refuse Gate. He built it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars. 15 Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, the official of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He built it, covered it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars, and the wall of the Pool of Shelah at the king’s garden as far as the steps that descend from the city of David. 16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, official of half the district of Beth-zur, made repairs as far as a point opposite the tombs of David, and as far as the artificial pool and the house of the mighty men. 17 After him the Levites carried out repairs under Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, the official of half the district of Keilah, carried out repairs for his district. 18 After him their brothers carried out repairs under Bavvai the son of Henadad, official of the other half of the district of Keilah.
Engaging the Word
The Gates of our Substance
So once again, why were these gates of spiritual substance important? Why are they important to us today? Because these gates of spiritual substance are entrance ways to the heart of God, the Temple of the Lord located in the center of Jerusalem. So it is with you and me today as believers, these gates are strong holds to which we are called to rebuild in our lives, because if we all Satan and the world to break down elements of these foundations, we lose the salt and purpose of our souls. We lose the substance of who we are in Christ.
As we go into these three gates here today, I would like to point out to you in verses 8-12, our Lord illustrates for us today, that it is not just the responsibility of the priests to rebuild the spiritual gates of our lives. Rather as we see in these verses, there were goldsmiths, perfumers, officials of the city (church board and spiritual leaders), sons and daughters. In other words there was no excuse to anyone within Jerusalem to not be rebuilding the spiritual walls and gates of their home and there is no excuse for you and me today.
The Valley Gate – Verse 13 – A Gate of Faith Building
The Valley Gate lay in the west of Jerusalem according to commentaries, in the neighborhood of the present Jaffa gate. The gate and the piece of wall were constructed by Hanum, who is believed to be the chief or ruler of Zanoah and the people of that area. One key point that we should take note of today is that although there is no specified distance from the last gate, it is about 1000 cubits or 1500 meters to the next gate. The valley gate has the longest distance between the gates and it is found after the Old Gate. So what does this Valley Gate mean to the people of Israel and you and me today. Firstly the Valley Gate represents trial within the life of the believer and trial for the people of Israel. It follows the Old Gate because as we were reminded this morning, for when we walk in the ancient ways of our Lord we will find rest for our souls. The Lord provides a long wall between the Old Gate and Valley Gate so that we might find a solid foundation in our Lord before we meet those times of trial in our lives. The word Valley used here in this passage and throughout scripture, illustrates for the children a place of sorrow and trial. We are reminded of this in Psalms 23:4, where the word tells us that there will be times where we will walk through the valley of the shadow of death. However knowing this, we also know that the valley of the shadow of death was given to us so that we experience perseverance, spiritual character or faith and the hope that is Jesus Christ. In Romans 5, the word tells us, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Isn’t God amazing? You see too often we see trial in our life, or the valleys of our lives as that which we detest, but God provides the valley gate in the life of the believer so that he or she might experience those faith building moments, those moments of experiential perseverance and most gloriously the moments of Hope is our Savior.
The Refuse Gate – Verse 13 – A Gate of Spiritual Release
In the scriptures there is very little discussion about the Refuse or Dung Gate found here in this text. As we can see here in verse 13 it was built approximately 1500 feet from the previous gate, the Valley Gate. The gate itself was built by just one person, Malkijah, son of Recab, and based upon its location and name it is believed to be used to take the rubbish out of Jerusalem, down to the valley of Hinnom, to be burned. So once again what does this Dung or Refuse Gate mean to the people of God? The Refuse Gate represents surrender for the life of the believer. The Lord provides this illustration for us today, because He is calling us to dispose of the garbage that too often we hold onto in our spiritual lives. You see the reason that this gate follows the trial gate, is because most often, the trials of our lives reveal to each of us, the garbage that we too often hold onto. Just imagine for a moment if the people of Jerusalem had nowhere to dispose of the garbage what it would have looked like. You see each of us have garbage cans that we can get rid of the garbage within our homes, however imagine what it would look like if we just didn’t bother to get rid of the garbage within our own homes. So now considering that image for moment, why do you and I think it is okay to keep the garbage of our spiritual homes? So what is the garbage or rubbish of our spiritual homes? Although I do not have time to illustrate the fullness of this understanding today, if you just take a moment to look at 1 Corinthians 5, we see that Paul tells the church of God to throw away the rubbish that exists within. The spiritual arrogance, the boasting, the malice, the wickedness, the idolaters, etc. These are just some of the illustrations that Paul provides, for us, but if we could sum it up, it is anything that separates us from our Savior and anything that does not bring glory to God. The Gate of Refuse was not rebuilt so that people could stand and look at how pretty it was, rather it was built to be used and not forgotten, because if each of our lives we are called to dispose of those things that separate us from the person and presence of our Lord.
The Fountain Gate – Verse 15 – A Gate of Teaching
The Fountain that we see here in verse 15 of this passage, based on the description provided in verse 15, the adjoining length of wall that Shallum repaired, that the Fountain Gate was on the wall of the pool of Shelach, also known as Siloah, by the king’s garden. Based on historical evidence we also know that the pool of Siloah received its water from a subterranean conduit 1750 feet long, cut through to provide water the people of Jerusalem. Hence the name, Fountain Gate! So what does this Fountain Gate mean to us today? The Fountain Gate represents teaching within the life of the believer. If we look at the word of our Lord we see in Proverbs 13:14, that the fountain is a fountain of life, and that it provides teaching to those who come to drink and turns the children of God away from the snares of death. So for a moment here let’s consider what we have discussed within the previous leading to this gate. Firstly we have seen that there is a valley gate and that we will experience in this gate in the life of the believer. Then we saw that there was a Dung or Refuse gate where we are called to dispose of that which separates us from our Lord. Here we see that the Fountain Gate is rebuilt so that we experience the Teaching and Guidance required to bring forth a New Creation in Christ. The Psalmist put it this way in Psalms 36:7, “How precious is your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; And You give them to drink of the river of your delights. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.” We see here that when we drink from the fountain gate of our Lord that he not only provides teaching for our soul, but that we see life through the light that He reveals in our lives. Not only is this Fountain Gate a time of refreshing for our soul but it is also an opportunity for revelation in our lives. It for that reason that we often see the hand of God revealed around the fountains or pools of that day. Today is there a place within our lives, outside of Sunday morning’s whereby we can experience the revelational refreshing teachings of our Lord in a soul shaping way.
Today we have had the honor and privilege read and engage our Lord’s word in a new way. We discovered that it is not just about the core of our hearts, but that our Lord calls us to renew all the aspects or gates of our lives and that as his children as we renew and rebuild the Valley gates, the Refuse gates and Fountain gates of our lives we will experience a new Jerusalem for our souls.
Our Lord desires to reveal the faith of your soul as you rebuild the Valley Gate.
Our Lord desires to give you spiritual joy and freedom that can only be experienced in rebuilding the Refuse Gate of our souls.
Finally our Lord desires to give each of us, his revelation through the refreshing teachings that can only experienced at the Fountain Gate of our souls.