Gateways Through The Gospel

Bible Book: Nehemiah  3
Subject: Gospel; Symbolic Gates; Christian Living

Chapter three of this wonderful book is the history of Nehemiah and his band of workers hard at it. When one reads this chapter, they note "cooperation" (nearly everyone worked), "coordination" (they worked together), "concentration" (they worked specifically), and "consummation" (they executed their work) - pictures the Christian life in its entirety.

There seems to be a major emphasis on the repairing of the gates in this chapter. Consulting a map of the ancient city of Jerusalem will make evident that they circled the wall. We begin at the Sheep Gate at the northeast corner and return to the same gate. The circuit of the walk may be likened to a spiritual journey in the life of the believer. In 1 Corinthians l0:6, the Bible makes reference to examples in the Word of God. There is tremendous spiritual typology to be gleamed from this text.

Let’s consider the gates.

I. The Sheep Gate v. l

Sheep that were destined for sacrifice were brought here. Through this gate the shepherds brought their flocks from the wilderness pasturage. Likely a market was located just inside this gate. Here also the priests performed their endless task. As the Passover season approached, the bleating of the sheep would fill the area.

It was at the Sheep Gate that our Lord Jesus met the palsied man and healed him as recorded in John 5. John 5:2-3 reads, "Now there is at Jerusalem, by the sheep gate, a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water."

The Sheep Gate clearly speaks to us of the Cross. It is at the Cross that helpless sinners find life and peace. I Peter 3:l8 states, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit."

How significant that the work of reconstruction began here. Jessie Pounds was right when she wrote long ago,

"I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There's no other way but this;
I shall ne'er get sight of the Gates of Light,
If the way of the cross I miss."

John l0:7 reports, "Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep." Jesus went out Sheep Gate to Gethsemane, and passed here when He was brought back as a "sheep."

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II. The Fish Gate v. 3

This gate received the fish supply from the Jordan River and from as far as the Sea of Galilee. Remember that the Savior said to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men, (Matthew 4:l9). In this same manner, He calls us first to Himself and then to the multitudes as His witnesses.

It is a weighty truth, often I fear forgotten in this pushing, restless age that the great business of those already saved should be to bring others to Christ.

Thank God that Nehemiah led them to rebuild the Fish Gate because he was concerned about the condition of the lost.

In Verse 5 we read, "But their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord." There are those, together as the nobles of old, who manifest a gross indifference to the work of winning the lost.

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III. The Old Gate v. 6

The spiritual significance of the Old Gate is not easily discerned. Perhaps Jeremiah's exhortation will help us. Jeremiah 6:l6 reads, "Thus saith the Lord, Stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk in it, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it."

The Old Gate might speak of subjection to the revealed will of God, abiding in that which was from the beginning. This gate would lead to the area of expansion. This gate reminds you of where God found you.

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IV. The Valley Gate v. l3

Through this gate the poor children, victims of savage idol worship, had been led out of their fate.

This gate suggests humility, a willingness to take a lowly place that Christ be exalted.

Isaiah 66:2 penned, "For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been said, saith the Lord; but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."

The Valley Gate would rouse regret, not pride, as we were reminded of where He found us. How often we need to pause by this gate, for too easily even Christians tend toward pride and arrogance.

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V. The Dung Gate v. l4

It was through this gate that the refuse of the city was flung into the valley below. Believers must be aware of the need for cleansing in the spiritual sense.

We read in 2 Corinthians 7:1, "Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." There cannot be real blessing if this is forgotten.

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VI. The Fountain Gate v. l5

Note that it was after the Dung Gate, where the filth was removed and cleansing experienced, that one came to the Fountain Gate. We see here illustrated those rivers of living waters spoken of by our Lord in John 7:38. Spiritual waters flow from the life of the child of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit and walking in true holiness and godliness.

John 7:38 reads, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water."

At the Valley Gate the saint humbles himself in self-judgment. At the Dung Gate the filth is put away, and now at the Fountain Gate, the once chocked fountain is running over, and the Spirit of God in power takes control of the believer to use him for the Lord's glory, and to make him a vessel of refreshment to others at the point where the Siloam Tunnel emerged from the ground.

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VII. The Water Gate v. 26

We read in Psalm ll9:9, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word."

And, then in John l5:3 we see, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."

The Water Gate led to the main source of water; the reading of the law took place here; a large place. The Water Gate is a type of the Word of God. Observe that this gate was unique in that it needed no repairs. Psalm ll9:89 states, "Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven."

All vain man's assaults upon it have left it uninjured and unchanged. Words by an unknown author –

"Last eve I paused before a blacksmith's door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime.
And looking in, I saw old hammers on the floor,
Worn by the beating years of time.
"'How many anvils have you had,' said I,'
'To wear and batter all these hammers so?'
'Just one,' said he, then with a twinkle in his eyes,
'The anvil wears the hammers out you know.'"
"And so I thought, the anvil of God's word,
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon.
Yet through the noise of falling blows was heard
The anvil is unharmed - the hammers gone!"

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VIII. The Horse Gate v. 28

Through this gate the king's horses were led to their stables. Since the horse was for battle, the Horse Gate suggests the believer's warfare in an alien world. That old warrior, Paul the Apostle, identified the armor of the soldier in Ephesians.

Charles Wesley wrote,

Soldiers of Christ, arise, And put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies Through His eternal Son;
Strong in the Lord of hosts, And in His mighty pow'r,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts Is more than Conqueror."

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IX. The East Gate v.29

Represents for the believer that great moment for which the church of God waits: the coming of our Lord from heaven to receive His bride.

Archaeological society - "Golden Gate" (Some golden daybreak)

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X. The Inspection Gate   v. 3l

Inspection gate; numbering - when the roll is called

The gate of review, or appointment.

This was the gate where controversies were tried. This points to the last great review. Every detail of the saint's life will come up for inspection.

In 2 Corinthians 5:l0 we read, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

Pass with me again now to

XI. The Sheep Gate v. 32

It is as though God would not have us turn away without reminding us that the Cross that we began with will be before our souls for eternity. We shall never get beyond the Cross.

Have you been to the Cross? Have you told anyone? (Fish gate). Are you committed to that which you received at the beginning (Old Gate)? Have you humbled yourself (Valley Gate)? Have you been cleansed (Dung Gate)? Are you filled with the Holy Spirit (Fountain Gate)? Are you trusting in His Word (Water Gate)? Are you ready for warfare (Horse Gate)? Are you ready for His return (East Gate)? Are you ready for the Judgment Seat of Christ (Hammiphkad Gate)?