The Gospel In The Gates-Cont.
Nehemiah • Sermon • Submitted
0 ratings· 14 views
Last week we started looking at the the fact that many Biblical scholars believe that there is very significant spiritual meaning behind each of the gates. It was pointed out that nothing in this Book is here by accident, every word is here for a specific purpose, even the order of the words and in this case the order of the Gates around Jerusalem as they appear in Nehemiah 3. All have a specific purpose This morning we will continue to look at, as Dr. J. Vernon McGee calls it “The Gospel in the Gates of Jerusalem”.
The first gate we looked at last week was:
The Sheep Gate Represents Christ & His Work on the Cross. Neh. 3:1; Isa. 53:7; Jn. 1:29
This was such an important gate as this was the gate where the temple lambs were brought through for the temple sacrifice. As we looked at last week, these lambs were spotless lambs that were be sacrificed for the sins of the people. There is one thing I want to point out as we look at these lambs. There was no power in the blood of these lambs, none whatsoever. From the very start, all the way back to the lambs that were sacrificed at the very first Passover in the Book of Exodus, every animal that was sacrificed to atone for the sins of the people was to provide a picture of Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. Spiritual healing is provided only in His blood.
We also addressed last week that most historians and theologians believe that all but one time, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, He entered through the Sheep Gate, signifying that He was the long awaited for Lamb of God. In other words, it was no accident that He used this gate, it was all a part of the sovereign plan of God.
Christ not only came in through that gate, but also when He was arrested and was led out to be crucified, they took Him out through that gate. The Sheep Gate was the place of judgment, and it tells us that He bore the judgment of our sin. It is at this gate that we must begin with God. He is not prepared to meet us anywhere but at the cross. (J. Vernon McGee-The Gospel In The Gates)
The last thing we looked at in the Sheep Gate was that this was the only gate where there is no mention of any “bolts and bars”. There is a very powerful and significant lesson here that we can’t miss. The mention of the setting of the bolts and bars is specifically referring to the ability to secure and lock the other gates. There is no mention of bolts and bars on the Sheep Gate signifying that the way of salvation is open to all who will put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God. As long as there is breath in our lungs and the beating in our hearts the way of salvation is open to us.
We moved from the Sheep Gate to the Fish Gate.
The Fish Gate Represents Our Responsibility to be “ Fishers of Men ”. Neh. 3:3; Mt. 4:19; Prov. 11:26
When we look at the Fish Gate, we were reminded that one of the very first things Jesus did when someone believed in Him was to give them an assignment. He did the same for us when He gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. We compared our neglect in obeying God’s Great Commission to us with the Nobles of the Tekoites who refused to assist in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and were then called out by God on the pages of Scripture. The last thing we want is for God to call us out for refusing to obey His command to be “fishers of men”.
That brings us to this mornings message as we continue of look at The Gospel in the Gates.
If you haven’t already, please turn in your copies of God’s Word to the Book of Nehemiah chapter 3. It is on page 505 in the pew Bibles.
The next gate we will look at in Nehemiah 3 is: The Old Gate.
The Old Gate Represents The Never Changing Truth of The Word of God . Neh. 3:6; Jer. 6:16; 1 Cor. 15:58; Prov. 31:23
So much has changed since the days when Scripture was recorded. People have changed, ways have changed, customs have changed, how we do things has changed, our transportation has changed, our homes have changed…so much has changed, but one thing that has never changed and never will change is the Truths of God’s Word. God’s Word remains the same and it’s truths transform life’s as much today as It did when the pages were being lived out.
In ancient times in the mideast, there was one particular gate in most cities where the elders, the wise men of the city would meet and sit daily. People would go to that gate for wisdom, for direction, for judgements on disputes from fair and unbiased judges. The Old Gate would have been that gate. In Proverbs 31:23 we read;
23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
This gate represents both the eldership of the city (the leaders of the Body) and their guidance in the "ancient paths" of God in spiritual growth.
We read in Jeremiah 6:16; “Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
God’s Word is that “ancient path” and It still leads to the place where you can “find rest for our souls”. And like those whom Jeremiah was addressing, we also can choose to “not walk in it”. But that is a tragic choice that leads to destruction. In fact in the case of those Jeremiah was writing to it did. You see Jeremiah was writing before the captivity that brought Nehemiah’s family with the whole Nation of Judah to the Babylonian. Jeremiah’s was there as God’s spokesman and when he writes these words, when he is telling the people to “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it” he is telling the people to return to the covenant God had established in the days of Moses. He preached this message for 40 years without a single convert. His listeners refused and paid a heavy price. We will as well if we turn our back on the never changing truth of God’s Word.
The Hebrew word use in the phrase “Old Gate” has another meaning and that is "storage", you could say this gate represents the fact that we need to study the Word of God and "store it away". The Old gate speaks to us of the old ways of truth. The Believer, having experienced the Sheep Gate, then the Fish Gate soon sees the need for experiencing the Old Gate. This means learning the old ways of truth that never change. Psalm 119:11 says:
11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Once we have trusted In Jesus as our Savior, we must enter into the eternal, ancient truths of God's written Word. We must see the importance of obedience, tithing, daily devotions and all that is revealed in His general will, His written Word. We learn these by sitting at the feet of anointed teachers of God's Word and studying the Word diligently for ourselves. Often time this message is driven home more succinctly through the memorization of Scripture. This is one of the things we are seeking to do with our children during our AWANA program on Wednesday nights. But Scripture memory should not be limited to one ministry and only to the children. It is something we should all be participating in regularly. Scripture memory is huge in transforming our lives.
If you have already made your way through the Sheep Gate, are seeking to be used of God through the Fish Gate, next make sure you are daily grounding yourself in the Word of God, in the Old Gate.
The next gate we see is:
The Valley Gate Represents the Life of Humbleness & Humility . Neh. 3:13; Ps. 23:4; Phl. 2:3; Col. 3:12
So much of the time our greatest value in the cause of Christ comes not in our mountain top experiences, but in our times in the deep dark valleys.
Have any of you every had the opportunity to camp out or do hikes in the mountains at what is referred to as timberline? For those that have, let me ask you a question, what grows above timberline? Almost nothing. Here is a picture of a peak above timberline in the Colorado Rockies: Next Slide
Make sure to post picture on a powerpoint of timberline.
Looking at this picture, let me ask you a question, if this picture were taken of a lake or pond below timberline, what would you see around a pond or lake? (All sorts of growth, grass, bushes, trees...). Yet nothing is growing around this pond. This is a good picture of what takes place in the life of a believer. Virtually no growth takes place in the life of a believer when we are living in the mountain top experiences.
There is a reason for that truth. Honestly, when we are living on the mountain top experiences we sometimes have in the Christian life, we don’t really learn a dependence on God. Sure we really enjoy those time, but when all is going well, our tendency is to rely more on ourselves than on God. But when we are in the dark valleys, well that is a different story all together. Next Slide
Make sure to post picture on a powerpoint of a pond in the valley.
In Psalm 23:4 we read: “4 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.
What is it that happens in the Valley? It is in the valley that we realize that we can’t do this alone. We really have 2 choices when we are in the Valley, we either turn to God, or we turn away from God. I have done both. One leaves me in the depths of despair, the other brings me to complete dependence on God, Who according to Psalm 23:4 is “with me” Whose “rod and staff…comfort me”.
It is in the valley that we also learn humbleness and humility. We read in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
and Colossians 3:12 says; “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience”
Humbleness and humility do not come on the mountain top, but they do come in the valley, because it is in the valley that we learn complete dependence on God to sustain us. To carry us through. We learn to rely on Him and that develops in us a spirit of humility and a humble spirit.
It is interesting to note that the first gate Nehemiah went through to examine the state of the walls and gates of Jerusalem, before starting the construction work, was this one (Nehemiah 2:13-15). As Nehemiah went through the valley he would have had the best view of the walls and gates. We get the best understanding of the state of our spiritual walls and gates (our spiritual well being) from the valley experiences in our lives!
I want to spend a little time now looking at some of the Valleys we experience.
1. The Valley of Doubt - When our faith begins to waver in light of problems we are facing. During these times Satan attacks and if we aren’t careful, they can be some of his most affective attacks.
2. The Valley of Discouragement - When we are tempted to give up because things aren’t going the way we want them to go. Satan attacks
3. The Valley of Disappointment - When we see the wicked do well and God's people have problems, Satan attacks
4. The Valley of Discipline - When we fail the Lord and He deals with us, Satan attacks
5. The Valley of Defeat - When we give in to the flesh, Satan attacks
6. The Valley of Decision - When we are not sure which way to go, Satan attacks
7. The Valley of Division - When family and friends turn on us and separate from us, Satan attacks
8. The Valley of Death - When loved ones die or we ourselves are facing death, Satan attacks.
So what is the constant in all of these valley’s? Satan’s Attack. But let’s not forget Psalm 23:4;
4 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.
Yes Satan may attack, but God is also there with us. It is up to us to decide whether we will let the enemy win, or lean on the Lord Who is with us and Who comforts us with His rod and staff.
After the mountain-top experiences of the first three gates, the Valley Gate brings us back to reality and on into a deeper cleansing. Again, fruit does not grow on the mountain-top. The river does not flow on the mountain-top. These things happen in the Valley - through trials that must be endured with Joy. Then we will go through the next gate, the Dung Gate, that will purify us and prepare us to be empowered for service.
The Dung Gate Represents the Need for the Believer to Deal with Sin . Neh. 3:14; 2 Cor. 7:1
The Dung Gate was located at the southwest corner of the wall, and used for the disposal of garbage and dung. It led out to the Valley of Hinnom where all refuse was burnt. We see this gate in Neh. 3:14:
14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, repaired the Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars.
Notice there is quite a distance to this gate from the Valley Gate indicating that, unfortunately, the valley experience can carry on for some time. But the result of that experience is clearly seen in this gate - the Dung Gate. This is the gate that they would take all the refuse and rubbish out of Jerusalem, down to the valley of Hinnom to be burned. This is what happens in our own life. Valley experiences are used by the Lord to clear away the rubbish so that true faith, refined by the fire, can come forth and produce fruit. Clearing away the rubbish in our lives is never easy but the benefits of this experience can be seen in the next gate. We will talk about that later.
Warren Wiersbe writes;"The sanitary disposal of waste materials is essential to the health of a city. This gate did not have a beautiful name, but it did perform an important service! It reminds us that, like the city, each of us individually must get rid of whatever defiles us, or it may destroy us."
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 7:1;
1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
When I think about this gate, I believe that this is a gate we should come to frequently, especially early in the life of the believer. What I mean by that is that we need to keep a short account of sin in our lives. We will always struggle some with sin, and those times we fail, need to be quickly followed by a time of confession.
When we aren’t quick with confession, we can easily be brought right back into some of those dangerous Valley Gate experiences we mentioned a moment ago, and sin that isn’t dealt with can snowball to the point it can be overwhelming.
J. Vernon McGee put it this way: Paul, in practically all of his epistles, dealt with sin in the Christian‟s life. How important it is! I am of the opinion that in the present hour, sin is one of the things holding back revival.
My friend, isn’t it a strange thing that in this day when there is more interest in religion than there has been in the entire history of the world, for some reason there is no revival? What is holding it back? I believe that when Christians will deal with sin in their lives, revival will come. This is the gate that we do not like to talk about, but ignoring this gate is causing the Christian witness to smell to high heaven!
If you look in Nehemiah chapter four we see:
10 In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.”
Rubbish and accumulated debris needed to be carried out and burned so that the work could be completed. I wonder if Nehemiah said something like this. "Well, what are you going to do about it. Get rid of the garbage and energy will increase."
That is certainly an important lesson for each of us. We need to be quick with confession and repentance.
This opens up the door for God to cleanse us, making us all the more useful to further His kingdom.
In James 4:7-10 we read:
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
We need to make sure we never forget the importance of this gate. Take a look at the map of the gates, you will notice that directly after the Dung Gate on the map of Jerusalem, a significant turn takes place. The same thing happens in the life of the believer. When we take short account of sin in our life, when we are quick to confess and repent, we turn the corner spiritually and God begins to move in an even deeper way.
Don’t be fooled by the ugly name of this gate, this is a very important gate in the life of the believer.
So, this morning we have looked at 3 gates; The Old Gate, which Represents The Never Changing Truth of The Word of God and our need to be grounded in the Word of God. The Valley Gate where we see a dependence on God developed. and The Dung Gate, where we are quick to deal with sin in our lives and then see God’s work in transforming us and doing a mighty work through us.
Next week we should finish our tour of the Gate.
The Fountain Gate Represents the Holy Spirit Indwelling the Believer . Neh. 3:15; Jn. 4:14; Jn. 7:38 & 39
The Water Gate Represents The Power of God’s Word . Neh. 3:26; Neh. 8; Jn. 15:3; 17:17
The Horse Gate Represents The Spiritual Warfare . of the Believer. Neh. 3:28; 2 Tim. 2:3; Eph. 6:8-10
The East Gate Represents the Second Coming of Jesus . Neh. 3:29; Ez. 44:1-3
The Muster (Inspection) Gate Represents the Judgement Seat of God . Neh. 3:31; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:12; Mt. 25:21
Completing the Tour
The Sheep Gate Represents the Lengths God Has Gone Through to Protect Us from His Judgement Seat . Neh. 3:32; Gal. 6:14; Isa. 53:6
the sheep gate is also mentioned at the very end once we have come full circle. That is because everything starts and ends with Jesus' death on the cross. He is the High Priest who builds and consecrates this foundation gate in our lives.
Once you come to Christ then things begin to make sense. Jesus said you would go in and out and find pasture. I have good news! We aren't alone in finding good pasture. Jesus goes with us. When he has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. (John 10:4) Not only do we find the shepherd but also we begin the Christian life. When one finds the shepherd one hears and recognizes His voice in His word. We know the voice of the shepherd.
He leads us into pastures that are green and healthy. We get ourselves into trouble when we search for our own pasture. The world has its pastures. They are earthly, worldly pastures. They tend to dry up and wither when the heat of trouble and adversity comes on us.
Before we can enter the green pastures the Lord has for us we must come in through the sheep gate. Have you come in by the door? There is no other gateway to glory. That comes at the cross through Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
This is the plea from the sheep gate.
Jesus’s Sacrifice — Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29)The Sheep Gate = Salvation through Jesus’ death on the crossThis gate had no bolts or bars — salvation freely available to everyone who enters through it.Built by the High Priest — Jesus is our High PriestHis death opens the way for us and restores free access to the FatherThe Sheep Gate is mentioned at the start and end of the chapter — everything starts and ends with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It’s all about Jesus and His finished work on the cross!Have you come in through the Sheep Gate?
Malachi 3 book of rememberance