‘And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved’, Matt. 21. 10.
In ancient times gates were not simply thoroughfares but were often meeting places, as well as places where business and legal transactions took place, Deut. 21. 19; Ruth 4. 1, 11; 2 Sam. 15. 2. Historically, there were eight gates giving access into the city of Jerusalem, although some today include a ninth gate known as Tanner’s Gate. Our picture shows the Golden Gate, which is located on the eastern side of Jerusalem and, originally, it was used to give access to the Temple Mount, but has been walled up since medieval times. Some suggest that this gate was not open for general access to the Temple Mount but restricted to the High Priest and his helpers when dealing with the ashes of the red heifer, Num. 19. 1-10, and the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement, Lev. 16. It is possibly the oldest gate located in Jerusalem’s old city walls, and some of the building stones may well date back to the First Temple period. The gate is called in Hebrew the Shushan Gate or the Gate of Mercy. According to Josephus, Antiquities 15.11(7), a secret passage connected the Antonia Fortress to the inner temple at the eastern gate. The prophet Ezekiel records for us that the glory (Shekinah) of the Lord left the First Temple via this gate, moving to the Mount of Olives, Ezek. 11. 22, 23. It is interesting to note that throughout the history of the Second Temple Jews considered that the visible sign of God’s presence – the Shekinah – was absent. But though the Shekinah was absent from the Second Temple, it was clearly visible at times in the life our Lord Jesus Christ, e.g., on the Mount of Transfiguration, Matt. 17. 5; cp. Ezek. 10. 4 with 2 Pet. 1. 17. He also frequented the Second Temple when He visited Jerusalem, John 2. 13-22. Tradition has it that it was through this gate that our Lord’s triumphal entry was made into the city of Jerusalem in fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy, Zech. 9. 9; Matt. 21. 1-10. It is Ezekiel who later predicts that the same divine glory – the Shekinah – will appear once again at the end-times through the eastern Gate and fill the temple of the Lord, Ezek. 43. 1-5; 44. 1-4; cp. Isa. 4. 5. One day, however, there will be no temple in the city of God for, as John reminds us, ‘its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb’, Rev. 21. 22 ESV. Finally, the Lamb will be all the glory of Immanuel’s land.