Rebuilding the Gates (4)

John Riddle, Cheshunt, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]

Part 4 of 4 of the series Studies in the book of Nehemiah

Precious Seed

4) The Valley Gate, verse 13

So, we continue our studies of the rebuilt gates by considering the Valley Gate.

Some people are very proud of their orthodoxy! Their claimed adherence to ‘the old paths’ gives them a sense of superiority. The ‘Valley Gate’ is therefore a very important place. We all need to ‘walk humbly’ with God, Micah 6. 8. Paul puts it like this, ‘For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith’, Rom. 12. 3. Peter puts it like this, ‘Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility, for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time!’, 1 Pet. 5. 5-6. The Lord Jesus exemplified this par excellence, see Phil. 2. vv. 5-11. It is in the ‘Valley Gate’ that fellowship is promoted, ‘Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves’, Phil. 2. 3. The Valley Gate also reminds us of Psalm 23, ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me’, v. 4. The Valley Gate was near the ‘tower of the furnaces’, and service for God often brings us into the valley of opposition and persecution. He is with us too when death casts its shadow over our pathway. But opposition and difficulty do have a cleansing and purifying effect in our lives, see 1 Pet. 1. 7. We are told that a refiner would remove the dross from the crucible until he could see a clear reflection of his face in the molten metal. The removal of the dross in our lives brings us to the Dung Gate. The city refuse went out through this gate.

5) The Dung Gate, verse 14

This gate reminds us that if we are going to serve God as ‘fishers of men’ we need a similar gate in our lives. Second Corinthians chapter 7 verse 1 informs us that, ‘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’, and Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1, ‘Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us’. This necessitates the practice of 1 John chapter 1 verse 9, which tells us how we deal with sins, ‘If we confess our sins (notice the plural), He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’.

Amazingly, Paul referred to the Dung Gate’ when describing his conversion and the use he made of it to rid himself of all his useless past, ‘Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung (‘filth’ JND), that I may win Christ (‘have Christ to my gain’, Phil. 3. 8 JND margin). Have we yet used the ‘Dung Gate’ to rid ourselves of all that we were out of Christ? Again in 2 Timothy chapter 2 verse 21 Paul declares that, ‘If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work’. We need the ‘Dung Gate’!

6) The Fountain Gate, verse 15

The ‘Fountain Gate’ follows ‘the Dung Gate’ in the same way that the enjoyment of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our lives is dependent upon daily cleansing from sin. Springing water in scripture is a picture of the Holy Spirit, ‘He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly (‘inner man’) shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)’, John 7. 38-39. There will be no ‘fountain gate’ in our lives if we grieve the Holy Spirit. See Ephesians chapter 4 verse 30. The surrounding verses explain that we can grieve Him with ‘corrupt communication, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, malice. Out of the dung gate with it!

7) The Water Gate, verse 26

If springing water in scripture describes the Holy Spirit, then still water describes the word of God. ‘Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word’, Eph. 5. 25-26. It was therefore most appropriate that the reading of the law in Nehemiah chapter 8 verse 1 took place in ‘the street that was before the water gate’. Still water symbolizes the cleansing power of the word of God, ‘Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word’, Ps. 119. 9. But the word of God is also preventative for, ‘Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee’, Ps. 119. 11.

The word of God cleanses us when we apply its teaching. In John chapter 13, the Lord Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, and overruled Peter’s objection by saying, ‘If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me’, v. 8. It is vital to notice that the Lord Jesus did not say, ‘Thou hast no part in me’. He was not talking about salvation here, but about fellowship with Himself. Sin interrupts that fellowship, and must be cleansed before it can be restored. We must let the Lord Jesus wash our feet by allowing Him to apply the word of God to our lives, and that means reading the scriptures every day. Our lives have dark corners that need spiritual spring-cleaning, and once we have dealt with them by confession, we are assured of cleansing and renewed communion with Him. The priests had to use the laver constantly, see Exod. 30. 17-21, and we need the cleansing of God’s word constantly.

8) The Horse Gate, verse 28

The ‘Horse Gate’ reminds us that our lives are not play-grounds, but battlegrounds. We are required to ‘fight the good fight of faith’, 1 Tim. 6. 12, and the horse is the symbol of warfare. God was obliged to reprove backsliding Israel with the words, ‘What have I done? Every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into battle’, Jer. 8. 6. In Revelation chapter 19 verse 11 we have the combination again, ‘And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war’. The Horse Gate, therefore, reminds us of conflict, and that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. We will only be fit for battle if we heed the teaching of the previous gates! God is looking for humble (the ‘Valley Gate’), clean (the ‘Dung Gate’) and Spirit-filled (the ‘Fountain Gate’) warriors. Don’t forget the other gates either!

9) The East Gate, verse 29

As Paul wrote 2nd Corinthians chapter 4 he was acutely conscious of a spiritual battle. Notice what he says, ‘We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed’, vv. 8-9. But then he continues, ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’, v. 17. Paul was standing in the ‘East Gate!’ The east has strong associations with the coming of the Lord, for example, Ezekiel chapter 43 verses 1 and 2, where the prophet was brought by God, ‘to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: and, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like the voice of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory’. Israel‘s hope is connected with the east, ‘But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings’, Mal. 4. 2. Whilst our hope is connected with Christ as ‘the bright and morning Star’, Rev. 22. 16, rather than Christ as the ‘Sun of righteousness’, we ‘rejoice in hope of the glory of God’, Rom. 5. 2, and look ‘for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ’, Titus 2. 13.

10) The Miphkad Gate, verse 31

‘Miphkad’ means ‘review’ or ‘appointment’, a ‘place of meeting’. The Companion Bible gives the meaning as ‘the registry gate’, Ps. 87. 6, for there, ‘The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people that this man was born there’. We must never forget that the ‘East Gate’ is followed by ‘the gate Miphkad’ 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’, 2 Cor. 5. 10. ‘So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God’, Rom. 14. 12.

After leaving ‘the Gate Miphkad’, we return to the ‘Sheep Gate’ but we have approached it from a different direction. Everything began with the ‘Sheep Gate’ now everything ends with the ‘Sheep Gate’. The Lord Jesus is ‘the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last’, Rev. 22. 13. The ‘Sheep Gate’ reminds us that we will never forget Calvary. The cross will be the theme of our praise for ever and ever. The Lord’s coming will enable us to praise and worship Him without distraction. We will never leave the ‘Sheep Gate’!

Concluded.

AUTHOR PROFILE: John Riddle is an elder in the assembly meeting at Mill Lane Chapel, Cheshunt, and serves the Lord in written and oral ministry throughout the UK where his gifts are much appreciated. He took early retirement from business as a pensions executive.