(Part 1 of 4)
14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Mat 7:14)
The Body of Christ, Overcomers, the Elect, Candlesticks, Sheep, a Branch (of the Vine), the Bride of Christ, Kings and Priests.
And many more.
The Bible often refers to the body of Jesus, that is the Church, as a structure, something God can dwell in, something He can live right here on earth with and through in the form of the Holy Spirit.
The names He gave to this "structure" range from a simple tent (Tabernacle) which we are told to be, to a magnificent Temple built through Solomon.
Jerusalem is the City in which God has elected to place His Temple in the past. Jerusalem is also the name of the place in which He is building His New Temple.
The Bible refers to this City as "New Jerusalem," and both the Old and the New Testament provides a great deal of information on how He is building it, and of what it is built.
The book of Nehemiah is one such description of how God is building His City.
This book of Nehemiah also closes the history of the Jew. The next period of time we read about is the birth of Jesus.
More than 400 years before Christ, some of the Jews returned to Judah in order to rebuild the Temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians 70 years earlier (2 Chron 36:19; Neh 2:13-14). That story is found in the Book of Ezra.
Some 12 years later Nehemiah returned with permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
The story of the rebuilding of Jerusalem is a rather dry one in comparison to most of the other books of the Old Testament, o miracles to speak of, no wars, no love story, etc. The book just details the account of a few hundred people building the walls of a city, and the opposition they faced.
Someone reading this story might wonder why God even bothered to have it included in the Bible at all.
If, however, the book of Nehemiah had been placed as an Introductory book to the New Testament, it might have a different significance and be read in a different light.
The following study has done just that. Here the intention is to describe the building of the Ten Gates of entry into the New Jerusalem as if it were a sketch of how God is building His New City, the Church.
The story of the building of the walls begins in Chapter 3 of Nehemiah. And the gates of the city are described therein.
Nehemiah has left out some details, assumedly because they were not in need of repair, or because they are not significant to the story.
However, since this study is considering a complete rebuilding of the walls, we will begin with the:
A structure is only as strong as its cornerstone. If this stone crumbles, sinks or breaks under pressure, the entire structure will become uninhabitable and eventually collapse.
God's new wall requires a new cornerstone.
Eph 2: 20And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Also see 1 Pet 2:4-6; Mat 21:42)
Now that we have a strong and proven Cornerstone, we need as strong of a foundation as we can find. So God has provided Himself with:
Rev 21: 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
1 Cor 8: 9For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. 10According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
(Also see Heb 11:9-10; Prov 10:25; Eph 2:20)
We are now assured that whatever is built will have a perfect foundation. Before the Gates can be established, Walls must be built. And, of course, the structure will be no stronger, nor pleasing to the eye, nor any more secure than the materials used to build that wall.
What does the Bible have to say about the walls of God's City?
1 Cor 3: 8Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. 10According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (Also see 1 Pet 2:4-6; Eph 2:19-22; 4:10-16; Rev 2:17; 21:9-21)
God has assembled quite an array of stones with which to build His wall. What an honor to be selected for such a magnificent structure. And it appears as though the wall is going to be made of the same "stuff" as the foundation. It makes one stop and think.
Now for the Gates. These gates are not described by Nehemiah as "precious stones and pearls" as are those in Revelation. And there are only ten gates, not twelve.
Ten is a significant number. It is considered a "complete" number by some, and also a number of "trial" by others. Consider the ten plagues of Egypt, the Ten Commandments (which could not be lived up to).
(Also; Dan 1:12; Gen 18:32.)
To help understand the significance of the city gates, a brief description is here given.
First, Jerusalem means "peace," and has rarely lived up to its name. It was built on three hills that rise about 2,500 feet above sea level, and all but the northernmost sides of the mountain are fairly steep. It is estimated that originally the valley on the south side was over 60 feet deeper, but for thousands of years trash and the bodies of the poor and executed criminals have been filling up the valleys.
It has been considered probable that, had Jesus' body not been claimed for burial, He would have also been thrown into this valley as an executed criminal.
The northernmost mountain is Mount Ophel, thought to be the Mount Moriah on which Abraham was told to sacrifice his son. My guess is that such a speculation is incorrect since that sacrifice was a picture of Jesus' death, which in my opinion did not occur in this precise location.
Rev 21:14And the gates of the city were of one pearl.
(Also see Ezra 48:31; Rev 21:12-27; Mat 7:6; 13:45-46)
Gates were often the location of public assemblies. Philosophers gathered at the gates to expound their ideas, as did the "politicians," and the judging of controversies were held at the gates of the city.
This is also the location where much buying and selling took place, and the gates were often named for that which was sold, or most often engaged in at that gate.
The gates to the City of God that we are studying, as stated earlier, serve as an introduction to the New Testament. They illustrate the Process of entry, rather than the location.
Each Gate is a description of a phase of experience we must pass through in order to fully enjoy the blessings that God has provided for us. And they also help us understand what He expects of us, as well as what He has ordained for our future.
If considered in the light of prophesy, the story of these gates make a great deal of sense, and not only fit in with other prophetic passages, but help clarify them as well.
If they are to be considered as just a record of Jewish endeavor, they seem rather out of place, and a very odd set of coincidences that somewhat rival Darwin's Monkey Theory.
Consider for yourself the Book of the Ten Gates of Jerusalem.
[Nehemiah Chapter 3]
SHEEP GATE -
Sheep are timid and helpless creatures, as well as foolish. Like little children, they are unaware of dangers or their own vulnerability, so they must be carefully protected against their self-destructive nature.
As we approach the walls of Jerusalem from the North (toward the road to Babylon) as Nehemiah did, the first gate we encounter is the Sheep Gate. This gate is located near the NE corner of the wall toward the Kidron Valley. Modern charts would show this as the Damascus Gate.
Opinions vary as to where any of these gates were originally located. Some maps show them very much out of order, or ignore a few altogether. However, the true location is unimportant, as it is Nehemiah's account, along with God's message to us that we are interested in for this study.
Access to the sheep gate is quite easy. The land is flat on the North part of the mountain and the climb is gradual. This will change, however, with the gates that are to follow.
John 10: 1Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (Also see John 21: 15-17)
FISH GATE -
Some fishermen use a pole and bring fish in one at a time. Others use a net and catch a multitude of fish. Yet both are fishermen.
And the first thing we want to do after experiencing the Blessings of God is to bring others into God's peaceful pond and out of the shark-infested roaring seas of the world (Luke 21:25; Jude 13; Jer 31:35; Isaiah 51:15).
As we follow the wall to the right (toward the West), that encloses and protects the Holy City, we come to the Fish Gate.
The Fish Gate is also on the North side of the City, so it is quite easy to approach.
John 21: 3Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 4But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. 6And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. (Also see Matt 4:18-22; Ezek 47:8-10; Mat 13:45-50)
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