So over the three weeks, we have discussed what it means to rebuild the spiritual homes of our lives. Within the discussion we read through the first 18 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. That consecration is brought about to recognize something as special, as uniquely set apart for God’s glory and service and that is what we are called to do as believers. Next we stepped into the restoration of the gates of the Jerusalem where we discovered 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. To this end we began in verse 1 where 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. Within this first Gate we see that all of our restoration begins and we will see ends in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. That the remaining walls and gates of restoration are void of all-purpose if our spiritual lives do not begin and end within our Lord and Savior. Once we stepped through the sheep gate of salvation we came upon the fish gate where we discovered this a calling upon each us share the grace and faith that has been given to each of us so graciously. As we found out is that when we step out in faith into this world there will come times where we will need rest for our souls and so with that we came upon the Old Gate which we discovered is a representation of the promise that our Lord provides in the Old Truth that is revealed in the person that is Jesus Christ. The Old Truths that are experienced through the Word of our Lord and in his Holy presence bring forth a rest for our souls that is beyond compare.
Last week we came upon three gates, the first being the Valley Gate where we discovered that this gate in verse 13 is a gate to which each of us are called to experience because it is there that we have those faith building spiritual moments in our lives. God provides the valley gate as we saw in Romans 5, 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. We then moved on to discover the Refuse Gate which represented 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. It was at this Refuse Gate that we discovered that the garbage or refuse in spiritual lives is anything that separates us from our Savior and anything that does not bring glory to God. This is a gate that should not be taken lightly in our spiritual lives, and unfortunately it is a gate that is often forgotten in the life of the believer because too often we love to hang on to the spiritual garbage of our lives too often. Finally last week we discussed the Water Gate where we discovered that this gate is a call upon us as the children of God to experience the renewing teachings of 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. Here we were reminded that the Psalmist put it this way in Psalms 36:7, that it is only in His light that we see the light.
Today we are going to continue in this passage with three (3) more gates, so if you will turn with me to Nehemiah 3.
Scripture – Nehemiah 3:19-29 (NASB)
Builders of the Walls
Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, the official of Mizpah, repaired another section in front of the ascent of the armory at the Angle. 20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the Angle to the doorway of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 After him Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz repaired another section, from the doorway of Eliashib’s house even as far as the end of his house. 22 After him the priests, the men of the valley, carried out repairs. 23 After them Benjamin and Hasshub carried out repairs in front of their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah, carried out repairs beside his house. 24 After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah as far as the Angle and as far as the corner. 25 Palal the son of Uzai made repairs in front of the Angle and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king, which is by the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh made repairs. 26 The temple servants living in Ophel made repairs as far as the front of the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower. 27 After them the Tekoites repaired another section in front of the great projecting tower and as far as the wall of Ophel. 28 Above the Horse Gate the priests carried out repairs, each in front of his house. 29 After them Zadok the son of Immer carried out repairs in front of his house. And after him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, carried out repairs.
Engaging the Word
The Water Gate – Spiritual Wholeness
The Water Gate that we see here in verse 26 was repaired by the Nethinim who lived in Ophel. Ophel was the slope south of the temple, and the Water Gate was a gate on the eastern wall. Because the Water Gate was close to the temple, it is believed that this gate may have been used as a release for the surplus water from the temple reservoirs. Another theory is that when the temple reservoirs of water were low, this gate may have been used to refill them with water from the Kidron Valley. The Nethinim were the temple servants in Jerusalem. The scriptures in our translations usually refer to them as the Temple servants. The temple servants are mentioned early in the scriptures. To place it in context, as Israel began to conquer the Promised Land in the book of Joshua, we see that the people of Israel were deceived into making an unholy treaty with the Gibeonites. So in Joshua 9:27 it says that “….that day Joshua made them woodcutters and WATER CARRIERS for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD….” So here in this passage in Nehemiah it is quite possible that these same Gibonite descendants were now the Nethinim who repaired the Water Gate appointed as “water carriers”!
So what does this mean for you and me today? The Water Gate here in this passage represents the Spiritual Wholeness that is experienced in the presence of our Lord. In Hebrews 10:22 it says “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” We see here in Hebrews 10, that our spiritual bodies are cleansed of its guilty conscience and that we are made pure. So what is this water that brings forth cleansing and purity? Our Lord put it this way to the woman at the well in John 14:13 “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” Isn’t God amazing? Our Lord is truly amazing, he brings all that any of us need in this life. This “Water” is our Lord and it is in him that we can experience cleansing. It is in him that we can experience purity and it is in him that we will never ever thirst again. So why is it that we are called to restore or rebuild the Water Gate of our lives? Well, isn’t it interesting that sometimes we forget that our Lord does this amazing miracle in our spiritual lives. He gives us forgiveness and cleanses us from our past life. However unfortunately we forget to continue to experience the Water Gate in our lives. We as a people of God are called to a life of repentance. None of us will or ever will be good enough for God. It is for this reason that time after time, the prophets of our Lord cried out “woe is me” in the presence of our Lord. It is only through the cleansing Water Gate of our Lord that we can ever possibly experience eternity. It is only through his cleansing water that we can experience purity and be cleansed of a guilty conscience of our sinful hearts. The Nethinim never expected to find themselves as the Temple servants of our Lord, yet here in this text we see that they are the ones restoring the entry way to those who desire to find cleansing. Today, do you find yourself feeling impure in the presence of our Lord. Do you find yourself feeling unworthy before the throne of our Lord. Praise the Lord! Because in repentance, it is there that forgiveness can be experienced. The water of our Lord desires to wash us clean of all that prevents us from experience the fullness of his presence in our lives.
The horse Gate – Spiritual Wholeness & Preparation
Next in verse 28 we see that the priest carried out repairs to the Horse Gate. The Horse Gate was found on the east side of the city, overlooking the Kidron Valley. This gate was probably used to bring horses into and out of the old palace of David which was just north of the temple. Because this Horse Gate was next to the Water Gate, it is possible that the water at the Water Gate was used to provide water to the horses that were brought through this gate.
So what does this Horse Gate mean to us today? The Horse Gate represents spiritual wholeness & preparation. Horses were used throughout the scriptures of this time and in a lot of times that were brought into the context of war. In fact in Revelation 19:11 we are reminded of this purpose when John writes “and I saw heaven opened and behold a white horse and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True and in righteousness He judges and wages war”. Folks, we are war, whether you realize it or not today. We need to stop thinking that Christianity is all about peace and love because although we experience the peace and love of our Father, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers against the powers against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. So why are we called to restore and rebuild the Horse Gate of our lives? Two reasons, firstly our Lord calls us to restore the Horse Gate of our life so that we might renew our hearts of the truth that we are as Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2, strangers and aliens in this world and that our souls are at war. Secondly our Lord calls us to restore the Horse Gate so that we might prepare for that, that lies before us in this war. In Ephesians 6:13, we are told to put on the armor of God. Why is it that we think that we can go to war against the darkness of this world without restoring Horse Gate of our lives? When I went to Africa recently, I was reminded and the American friends that joined us on a portion of our vacation were reminded of how vulnerable we are to wild of Africa. Whether it is the elephants, or rhinos or lions, it quickly became evident that we were not the top of the food chain. So why is it that you and I seem to think that we can play with the lion that prowls in this world? Brothers and sisters in Christ, we live in a war zone! We have to be prepared! But the good news is, that if we dress ourselves in truth, righteousness, faith, peace, salvation and God’s Word, we will be victorious, because God is always faithful. Today do we find ourselves at the Horse Gate of our hearts, preparing our hearts and walk for the battle that lies before us? Do we play with the sin in our lives or do we revile it? Do we allow it to linger within our hearts or do we put it to death?
The East Gate – A Gate of Hope & Eternity
Lastly today we find ourselves at the East Gate in verse 29. What we know of this gate is that it was found to the east of the temple and that it was repaired by Shemaiah, the son of Shecaniah. This Shemaiah may have been regarded as a descendant of the Shemaiah of 1 Chron. 26:6, whose duty was to guard the temple. If this is the case, then the East Gate is undoubtedly the east gate of the temple. Although we don’t know the exact location of this East Gate, we are reminded of the East Gates purpose in Ezekiel 44:1-3 where it says, “Then the man brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, the one facing east, and it was shut. 2 The Lord said to me, “This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it. 3 The prince himself is the only one who may sit inside the gateway to eat in the presence of the Lord. He is to enter by way of the portico of the gateway and go out the same way.” Folks, this gate is of critical importance because our Lord reveals through his prophet that the only one who will use this gate is our Lord Jesus, the prince of peace. The Eastern Gate provides the only entrance from the East, and it faces the Mount of Olives where in fact, it was this same East Gate that our Lord came through on a donkey on his way to bear the sins of the world. It is also the same gate that based upon these verses in Ezekiel 44, that our Lord will one day return once more. The Eastern Gate was destroyed during the Roman conquest of Jerusalem, and the subsequent destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70, thus fulfilling Christ’s prophecy that “not one stone will be left on top of another”.
So why is this Eastern Gate important to you and me today? The East Gate Represents the eternal hope that resides in our Savior. Peter illustrated the importance of this gate in our lives when he said in 2 Peter 3:11-15, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.”
Peter illustrates for us today, that we are called to rebuild the Eastern Gate of our lives so that we might live holy and Godly lives, looking forward to the day of our Lord that is coming. And that as a new heaven and earth is birthed in his coming, as He walks through that eastern gate, we will be found spotless and blameless because we have run the race to win, knowing what has been laid before us. This Eastern Gate gives each of us two very important truths in our lives. First it provides a sense of urgency and intensity to our walk as believers, because none of us desire to hear the words, “depart from me, I never knew you”. This causes us to stretch further in our spiritual journey than we have done before. It causes us to question, every action, thought and motivation as believers so that they might be found blameless before God. Secondly the Eastern Gate, gives all us hope in eternity with our Savior. That no matter what we might face in this life as believers, we each have the hope of tomorrow. That not matter what trial, whether it is sickness or heartache, eternal hope is built strong within each of our souls, revealed in the second coming of our Lord and Savior as He returns to call us home.
Today we have walked through three gates within this passage, discovering the Water Gate where we can experience the cleansing of our conscience as believers and receive purity of heart. Secondly we walked through the Horse Gate where we saw that we are called to war. That restoration of this gate in our lives, brings forth an awareness of our heart for the war that rages and secondly it prepares our heart and walk for the journey that lies before us as believers. It is through this gate that we can realize the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation. Finally, we walked up to the East Gate where we found that in the restoration of this gate within our lives, we experience a renewed spiritual urgency and intensity as believer. It is also at this gate that we discovered a new hope that is found in our eternal Savior returning one day to call each and every one who is faithful home. Our Lord desires to see each of these gates restored in our lives and when we as believers experience restoration of his promise it is then that we can experience the fullness of his presence.