Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. Nehemiah 3:1

The Gates of Jerusalem

In the story of Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem to rebuild its fortification wall we see that there are ten gates incorporated within the structure. At first glance these gates might not seem very significant to us, after all they’re just gates. However, if we scrutinize the name of each gate and their placement within the story, we discover a kind of blueprint for our Christian walk. Are these names and their order in Nehemiah’s account some sort of coincidence? You be the judge—I’ve listed the gates in the exact order they appear in the Bible..

The Sheep Gate

The repairs to the wall had to start somewhere, right? I feel it is absolutely appropriate that our walk of faith starts here as well—for two reasons. First, we are likened to sheep who have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6) who are exhorted to enter by the narrow gate (Luke 13:24). But more importantly, Who is it that we believe and follow?

Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

The Fish Gate

Salvation is found in Christ Jesus alone; there is no work that we can do to earn our deliverance. Nevertheless, the born again believer is grateful and Christian duty is the common reaction to that sentiment. It is in fact our reasonable service (Romans 12:1).

Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Mark 1:17

The Old Gate

Are you beginning to see a pattern emerge?

As we share our faith or as others witness our religious behavior, someone will inevitably start asking questions. That’s a glorious consequence because so many times I won’t have the precise answer they’re looking for. I’m drawn back to the Old Gate, the Bible and as a result we’re both blessed. Jesus Christ is both the Word (John 1:1) and the rejected stone which became the chief cornerstone (Acts 4:11).

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work . 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Valley Gate

Trials and tribulations are a certainty when we walk with Jesus. Oh we’re not being singled out because of our faith for no one is exempt; believers and non-believers have problems to cope with. What we have is the opportunity to manage our problems differently. In our observance God is glorified.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

The Refuse Gate

I must defer to the King James Version because in it this opening in Jerusalem’s wall is referred to as the Dung Gate and as we all know, ‘dung happens.’ The reality is we’re all going to mess up and satan’s going to come along and remind us how dungy our walk is. The key here is to remember that our adversary isn’t pleased when we fall; he’s pleased when we don’t get up.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16

The Fountain Gate

Our Savior is the fountain of life (Psalms 36:9), His law is a fountain of life (Proverbs 13:14), and the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27). The worst we can do is to forsake the Source and hewn for ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13). After the valley and dung how refreshing it is to come back to the fountain. As we mature in the faith we soon learn that the fountain is portable.

“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14

The Water Gate

In the typology we might think the Fountain Gate and the Water Gate refer to the same thing. Well (pun intended), to a certain degree they do. The fountain is the source and the water itself is that which we drink up, soak in, and share with others. It quenches our thirst and cleanses the soul.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word Ephesians 5:25-26

The Horse Gate

Now we’re getting into some exciting stuff, because when I think of horses, I think of Christ’s return. Will you be on one of these mighty steeds?

Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints Jude 1:14

The East Gate

And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south. (Zechariah 14:4) Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. (Ezekiel 43:1-2)

If you go to Israel today (so I am told) you will see that the East Gate is all bricked up. It’s been that way since the Seljuk Turks sealed it in about 1100 AD. I’m told that they had learned from the scriptures that Christ would be returning via the east Gate and this was their attempt to thwart His arrival. Silly Turks. Little did they know that they merely were fulfilling prophesy. Anybody think Jesus is going to turn away when He finds the East Gate closed? Me either.

Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut. 2 And the Lord said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. Ezekiel 44:1-2

The Miphkad Gate

Miphkad means command from the root word which means the appointed place and it speaks to judgment. Every believer should understand that there are two judgments; God shall judge the righteous and the wicked (Ecclesiastes 3:17). The righteous will stand before the Lord and have their works judged; their salvation however is secure:

Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire1 Corinthians 3:13-15

And the wicked will also be judged. Their eternal future is secure too, however…

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.5 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15

The Sheep Gate

Wait a minute; we started with the Sheep Gate. Correct! We have come full circle–the Sheep Gate is mentioned at the very beginning and very end of Nehemiah chapter 3. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, who is and who was and who is to come (Revelation 1:8). Our story begins with Jesus and ends with Jesus; that is of course if you want to call eternity in Heaven with Him a finale.

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:11-12

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These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at Calvary Chapel Coastlands.

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Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. Ezra 1:1-3

Israel has been held in brutal captivity for 70 years and the Lord had raised up a leader to set her free. Miraculously, 150 years earlier, the Lord through the prophet Isaiah foretold of these events. Cyrus, this non-Jewish liberator, had no idea these prophesies existed until Daniel had pointed them out to him

Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid…Thus says the Lord to His anointed, To Cyrus…I have raised him up in righteousness, And I will direct all his ways; He shall build My city And let My exiles go free, Not for price nor reward,” Says the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 44:28; 45:1a + 13

Wow. If Cyrus wasn’t mentioned by name in this passage from Isaiah, I would swear it was about Jesus Christ! God’s ‘shepherd’, His ‘anointed,’ His temple re-builder; sure sounds like Jesus to me. Well it isn’t Jesus, but in Cyrus we do have a representation of the One to come, for Cyrus, in the typology is a picture of Jesus. Oh yes, and the rebuilding of the temple is a picture of us!

Who Wants to Go HOME?

The Babylonians were an atrocious people. At this juncture Cyrus no doubt figured that when he asked, “Who wants to go back to Jerusalem,” all of the two million or so Jews would have caused a stampede. The fact is only about forty two thousand; less than four percent of them, responded to the invitation to go home. The others, well they had become comfortable in their situation and decided to stay put. How about you; are you comfortable in your situation; are you ready to go home?

Like these Jews, most of America is comfortable in their circumstances. Sure, we might have uttered a salvation prayer a few years back, but now we see church as a legalistic inconvenience. “After all,” we might say, “it’s not about religion; it’s about a relationship…and I choose to relate to Jesus as I watch the football game.” Second Timothy 3:1-4 provides a stark revelation on the issue:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.

Form of godliness

I suppose the question is, “Are you a born again believer or a reasonable facsimile; are you in fact just a poser?” Look at the 2nd Timothy list—which of those components apply to your situation—in which of those things are you finding comfort? The good news is that the invitation Cyrus gave to Israel is the same invitation Jesus gives to us today, “Do you want to go home?”

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?

Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.

Oh, for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

Will L. Thomson

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These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at Calvary Chapel Coastlands.

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It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 11:1

While the combat zones may vary for each of us, the focus (Jesus) and mission (the Gospel message) are always the same. The born-again believer is [in one sense] the instrument God deploys within the enemy’s territory. However, despite being exposed to the enemy’s weaponry, we’re divinely sheltered. Therefore it stands to reason that the safest place for the Christian is on the front lines ~and~ fully engaged.

Blessed be the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle – my lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge… Psalm 144:1-2a

David’s choice to stay off the battlefield illustrates the point and further demonstrates that we don’t fall into sin accidentally, but that we freely walk into it one step at a time. Have you heard it said that, ‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop?’ Well that phrase is not from the Bible, but the standard surely is. Why should we be hands-on, clear-headed, and attentive?

…Because (our) adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8b

Does that mean we can never come in off the battle field, kick-back, and relax? Of course we can, as long as we never to lose our focus. The moment we lose sight of Jesus; the moment the ‘fear of the Lord’ takes a back seat to recreation, we willfully and knowingly take that first step toward sin. The good news is that God will warn us before every illicit step we take.

And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 2 Samuel 11:3b

“Umm David…she’s married,” someone said.

By the way, that someone was God, speaking through one of His instruments and David purposely and deliberately dismissed the good counsel he had received. God does the same thing with us. If we sin, we know it’s wrong because God told us so before we did it. The fact the God gave us the story of David and Bathsheba proves the fact.

Anyway, we know where the story goes from here and there’s no sense in recounting each of David’s perverse steps. The point I wanted to camp on is that our sin always begins with one seemingly innocent step which when examined reveals it was a step away from God.

But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23

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Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem. Ezra 1:3-4

70 Years Earlier

Israel was taken into captivity by the Babylonians and after 70 years, King Cyrus comes on the scene and is moved to release the two million or so Jews. Interestingly, it was Daniel (who we recall was also in Babylon), who brings Cyrus to the Bible and points out in Isaiah how 170 earlier the Lord through His prophet spoke of Cyrus releasing the Jews from captivity! Cyrus, apparently floored by seeing his name prophetically mentioned in the Bible, was moved to be obedient to the prophesy. I guess so.

“Who Wants to Go Home…”

Cyrus asks. Incredibly, at least to me, only about 49,000 or so desired to make the 900 mile trek back to Jerusalem. The truth is that during the 70 year exile in Babylon, most of these Jews had settled in and were now comfortable with their circumstances. Cyrus recognized the situation, which is why he proclaimed, “And if you don’t want to go back, then help out financially those who do.” (paraphrase mine)

Left Behind-ers

At this point we might think that those who chose to stay behind and support those who were going might somehow be lessed-blessed then those who went. I suppose this is how some might feel about those who today support missionaries in the field, but are either unable or unwilling to go themselves. This is simply not the case. We have as one example an admonition from King David found in 1 Samuel 30:24b

But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.

In this situation, some of the king’s men were to weary to continue in battle, so they were directed to stay behind and guard the camp and it’s supplies. After the battle was won, there were those who felt the spoils of the victory should be denied those who did not physically participate in the battle. King David set them straight—everyone gets an equal share; those who fought and those who support!

An Important Attribute

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

Whatever we give, our Father wants us to give it willingly and cheerfully. Why? Because everything belongs to God, that’s why. Is it not a silly notion to begrudgingly give away that which does not belong to you to begin with? If you loaned me your car and then told me to give it to someone else, it would be absurd for me to object or bemoan the request—wouldn’t it? The fact of the matter is that when we give willingly and cheerfully, God lovingly appreciates that we recognize this spiritual principle—He loves that we understand that we’re giving away His stuff and not ours. That’s what Jesus was looking for as He sat opposite the treasury in the account from Mark’s Gospel. He wasn’t looking to see what was given, but how they gave it—the quality and quantity were irrelevant.

Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” Mark 12:41-44

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