So over the last month, we have discussed what it means to rebuild the spiritual homes of our lives. Within this we have read through chapter 3 of Nehemiah where we discovered that rebuilding our spiritual homes does not only exist within the inner temple of our hearts. That yes, change begins in the heart of our spiritual temples but that it also requires that we address the gate ways to our hearts.
To this spiritual truth, we began this chapter by grappling with what it means for you and me to consecrate our lives to our Lord and Savior. It was there that we discovered 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. That in order for the spiritual homes of our lives to be rebuilt to its full purpose and potential as believers, that we are called to set apart all that we are to our Lord and Savior. That we can’t expect to experience the fullness of God’s promise in our lives if we keep God out of specific areas of our lives. Whether it is our finances in our struggle to tithe to God, or our inability to tame our tongues, or our struggle not to use crude or course language. These are just some of the areas of our areas in our lives, where we as humans feel God understands our short comings as Christians. Yet, as the scripture tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:7 “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.” We need to seriously ask ourselves are we willing to completely set ourselves apart for God and if we are not, then we need to understand that in this life we will be waring against ourselves and that which our Lord desires to do in our lives.
From this spiritual understanding as believers we then stepped up to the gates of our spiritual homes, so that we might begin the restoration that is required in each of our lives. It was here that we discovered that we need to always rebuild the spiritual truth in our lives, that we are saved not by the good works that you and I might do in this life but only by the love and more importantly grace that Christ gave us on Calvary. That the gate in verse 1, the sheep gate is a representation of the salvation that our Lord provides. That for us to experience any of the other elements in our spiritual lives, that we have to grapple and hold to the truth that it is only by grace alone. That all of the other gates and truths that we will experience in this life as a believer has to exist through the person and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. That none of the other gates in this chapter have any purpose if we do not rebuild this truth in our lives.
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. That is why our Lord tells us in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” This is not a request but a requirement upon the life of the believer. It for this reason, that I struggle with those programs that exist in the churches of today that do not proclaim the name of Jesus. We are quite content to give people food but not the truth and for that reason we are sending a lot of fattened souls to torment for all eternity. It is for this reason that I cannot understand a “Christian” who does not share their faith with those around them. If this is not a way of life for us as believers, we have lost the salt (substance) as a believer and have become worthless. God has given us an instruction this morning, not a request.
Next we found out that as 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. 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. The rest for our souls are not experienced within the vacations of our lives, or the things of this life, but only in the presence of our Lord and Savior. As our Lord tells us 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”.
From this gate of rest for our souls we then found our way to 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, perseverance and most gloriously the Hope of our Savior. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalms 23:4
It was from this valley gate that we discovered often times our Lord allows these, so that we might realize or see the spiritual garbage in our lives. It is in this that we are called to rebuild and use the Refuse Gate (verse 13) which represented surrender for the life of the believer. The Refuse Gate was given to us as believers because our Lord 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.
From here we journeyed on to the Fountain Gate (verse 15) 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.
Last week we began by discussing the Water Gate (verse 26) where we discovered 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.” It was here that we discovered that God not only provides cleansing from a guilty conscience and pure body, but that from our “innermost being springs of living water will flow” (John 7:38). That not only will our lives be changed by the hand of God but that those around us, our friends, our families, our dentists and doctors, will experience the purity and refreshing of Christ within our lives.
From the Water Gate we then came upon the Horse Gate where we were reminded that we are at war against the against the rulers against the powers against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. That the Horse Gate of our life represents spiritual preparation for the life of the believer. That we are called as Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:14-18, to gird ourselves with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the boots of the Gospel, the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. We discovered that unfortunately too often we play with the lion that desires to devour us, rather than preparing ourselves for the war that lies because us we think we can tame the lion in our lives. The Horse Gate is a calling to the reality and the preparation for the reality that lies before as believers.
Finally, last week we got to the East Gate where we discovered this gate provides eternal hope. Peter illustrated the importance of this gate in our lives when he said in 2 Peter 3:11-14, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 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. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” Peter illustrated this for us because 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. This truth not only brings forth eternal hope in the life of the believer but it also provides a sense of spiritual urgency for each of us as children of God.
This morning we are going to finish this chapter by discussing the remaining gates of this chapter so if you will turn with me to Nehemiah 3 and we will read that last four (4) verse of the chapter.
Scripture – Nehemiah 3:28-32 (NASB)
Builders of the Walls
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. 30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah carried out repairs in front of his own quarters. 31 After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, carried out repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, in front of the Inspection Gate and as far as the upper room of the corner. 32 Between the upper room of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants carried out repairs.
Engaging the Word
The Inspection Gate – The Gate of Truth
As with the East Gate, very little is known about the Inspection Gate. In fact, this particular gate isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. However the Inspection Gate is also referred to as the Miphkad gate. The other name in Hebrew has a military connection and according to tradition it is thought that this gate is where King David would meet his troops to inspect them. Based on the description, it is surmised that the Inspection Gate must have been on the in the east or northeast wall, a little to the south of the sheep-gate. The inspection of those that go to war for their country has been evidenced throughout history. In fact even today, there are military marches and parades that are used by the leaders of countries and armed forces to inspect those that go to battle. So what does this mean to you and me today?
In 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 it says “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. 3 But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”
In this passage of scripture it is illustrated for us today that we are the stewards of the mysteries of God. Isn’t that amazing! As children of the living God, we are not only the servants but we are the stewards of our Lord’s mysteries. We have an immense calling as servants and stewards because not only do we hold in our hands and hearts great promise for the world around us, but we are also to be held responsible for the truth that has been given to us. Today, this Inspection Gate, represents the Gate of Truth for us. Paul points out here in this passage that he doesn’t think much of being examined by those around him. Rather he is far more concerned by the judgment that waits him and all us as believers. In fact our Lord points out for us today in this scripture that there is nothing that won’t be revealed. In fact those things that you and I thought or did in the dark corners of our hearts or our homes, our Lord will bring to light. Not even the motives of our hearts will be protected but they will brought to revelation. So if you or I thought that we could just come on Sunday’s or do our things during the week to check the eternal box, we are horribly wrong. In fact the substance of all that we are, all that we do, all that we think is the important truth here today. Paul tells us in verse 13 of the previous chapter, that not only will all be revealed by fire but that even the quality of each of our work will be brought to light.
So what does this mean for you and me today? It means that every aspect of our hearts and that which we do unto the Lord will be judged by fire in the days to come. So if you are a part of our worship team and you lead us in worship on a Sunday, the quality of your service unto the Lord will be judged by fire. If you are or have been on the church board, the quality of your service unto the Lord will be judged by fire. If you are a Sunday school teach, or support our Food bank or Soup Kitchen during the week, your service will be judged by fire. Each of us are called as servants and each of us are called as stewards today.
Today we are going to close off with the Sheep Gate which is mentioned in the last verse of this passage. We close off today with the last and the first gate that we all need to embrace and rebuild within our spiritual homes. Firstly it is important to realize the significance of this gate in the life of the believer if it is the first gate that we are called to rebuild and the last gate that we called to rebuild. Secondly we need to put this gate within the context of all the other gates that we have discussed over the past few weeks. In John 10:7 it says “Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Note for a moment two things within this scripture, first our Lord refers to himself as the gate for the sheep to enter the fold of our Lord. The Sheep Gate whether it is in the book of Nehemiah or in the book of John is our Lord and Savior. Secondly, it is only through the Sheep Gate that has been rebuilt within the life of the believer that we can ever have life and have it to the full.
Today, our Lord is telling each of us that if we desire to have life and have life in the fullest, it is only through Him that we can ever realize the promise that lies before us. Today, if you have found yourself struggling at the valley gate that the Lord has placed before you or maybe you are struggling at the teaching Fountain Gate that our Lord gives us, know that He has given us his one and only Son who is revealed in the Sheep Gate so that we can rebuild all of the other spiritual gates in our homes. Our Lord desires to give each of us the fullness of all he created us for and today is day for each of us to step up and rebuild that glory that He desires to reveal.