The Gates of Nehemiah (Lesson One)

We have begun to note one of the books in the Old Testament which reveal one of the stories that God the Holy Spirit has chosen to have in writing for our instruction.

1CO 10:6, Now these things happened as examples for us,

ROM 15:4, For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

There are a lot of lessons that we can learn from studying how God worked in the life of this man, how God worked in the lives of those that were scattered in Jerusalem, to rebuild the wall. But really, in the story of Nehemiah, there are two very vital types of walls that are being built. There is a physical wall which is very important for the sake of Jerusalem, and you are going to be absolutely astounded at the spiritual significance of that physical wall. As they built the wall, the wall was built around the gates, and those gates are named in order.

NEH 3:1 Then Eliashib the high priest arose with his brothers the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They consecrated the wall to the Tower of the Hundred and the Tower of Hananel.

NEH 3:2-8, And next to him the men of Jericho built, and next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built. Now the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. And next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz made repairs. And next to him Meshullam the son of Berechiah the son of Meshezabel made repairs. And next to him Zadok the son of Baana also made repairs. Moreover, next to him the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not support the work of their masters. And Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors, with its bolts and its bars. Next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, also made repairs for the official seat of the governor of the province beyond the River. Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah of the goldsmiths made repairs. And next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.

Chapter three concerns itself with the rebuilding of the walls and specifically the ten gates that separated each section. What also stands out is the people that God has recorded as doing the work. One of the first gates that is mentioned is found in Nehemiah Chapter 3, the gates of spiritual progression. What also stands out is the people that God has recorded as doing the work. So what can we learn from this chapter? Well, quite a lot actually.

Their order and position is very specific and give us insight into the journey that God takes each of His children on. We will see those who are cheats, thieves, liars, and hypocrites. Each of the gates speak of different experiences in our Christian life that we need to come into. Their order and position is very specific and give us insight into the types of theories God takes each of His children on.

First of all, there is the sheep gate, in NEH 3:1,32. It was called the sheep gate because this was the gate which the sheep and lambs used in the sacrifices which were bought through. This speaks of the very first experience we come into in our Christian life – that is, a realization that Jesus was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. The sheep gate therefore speaks to us of the Cross and the sacrifice that was made for our sins. Everything starts and ends with our Lord’s death on the Cross.

The 2nd gate is the Fish Gate – NEH 3:3 Now the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars.

It was called the fish gate because the fisherman of Galilee would bring their catch in through this gate to be sold. For us, it speaks of evangelism as we have been called to be “fishers of men”. It is a natural progression in our Christian life that after seeing that Jesus dies for our sins, that we would want to tell others about it. Even surveys have shown that believers who have been saved less than two years win the most people to the Lord. Their simple testimony of what Jesus has done in their lives qualifies them to be great “fishers of men”.

Then there was the Old Gate. The Old gate was next and this speaks to us of the old ways of truth.

NEH 3:6, Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars.

A young Christian 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.

JER 6:16, Thus says the Lord, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk {in it}.’”

Then the Valley Gate. Examining the picture you will notice that there is a long distance before you come to the next gate, which is the valley gate.

NEH 3:13, Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars, and a thousand cubits of the wall to the Refuse Gate.

For a new Christian the Lord allows a ‘honeymoon’ type period where He teaches you and His presence is strong in your life.
This can go on for some time as indicated by the positioning of the old and valley gates. But sooner or later the valley gate must come. The valley gate speaks to us of humbling and trials – valley type experiences used by the Lord for our personal growth. The Christian needs to remember that in the natural nothing really grows on the mountain tops, but it certainly does down in the valleys. So it is in the spiritual. Never a nice experience but it always produces fruit.

Then comes the refuse gate.

NEH 3:14, Malchijah the son of Rechab, the official of the district of Beth-haccherem repaired the Refuse Gate. He built it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars.

The Dung or Refuse gate. Again there is quite a distance to the next gate indicating that, unfortunately, the valley experience can carry on for some time. But the result of that experience is clearly seen in 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. You will notice also that at this point of your Christian life there is a dramatic turning of the corner that takes place.

Up until this point we have been moving downward and the experiences have been hard, but having come to this point there is a sharp turn in the road and we begin to move upward again.

Then there is the Fountain Gate (verse 15)

NEH 3:15, Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, the official of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He built it, covered it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars, and the wall of the Pool of Shelah at the king’s garden as far as the steps that descend from the city of David.

The fountain gate is located extremely close to the dung gate. In other words, after a valley type experience where rubbish in our lives is cleared out and true faith comes forth, then the fountains begin to flow and it doesn’t take long! This speaks to us of the living waters of the Holy Spirit that cleanse our lives and empower us for our Christian life.

Then there is the Water Gate.

NEH 3:26, And the temple servants living in Ophel made repairs as far as the front of the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower.

The water gate is a picture of the word of God and it’s effect in our life.

EPH 5:26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

It is no coincidence that this gate was located next to the fountain gate as the two often go together. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes the word of God alive to us personally, allowing cleansing, encouragement and direction to take place in our life.

Then there is the Horse Gate – NEH 3:28, Above the Horse Gate the priests carried out repairs, each in front of his house.

The horse gate speaks to us of warfare as horses were used in battle and became a symbol of war.

REV 19:11, And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

Spiritual warfare, as we will see in this entire study on Nehemiah, is a requirement of every Christian because we are all in a battle whether we know it or not. The last three gates are also prophetic I believe of the end times return of Jesus Christ. You will notice that all three gates are very close together and so are the events which they symbolize. Prophetically, the horse gate speaks of the day of the Lord and the end time judgment as recorded in the book of Revelation chapters 6-19.

NEH 3:29, After them Zadok the son of Immer carried out repairs in front of his house. And after him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, carried out repairs.

There is also the East Gate (verse 29) – The east gate has been set-aside especially by God and was known by Jews for one particular event – the coming of the Messiah!

EZE 44:1-3, Then He brought me back by the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces the east; and it was shut. And the Lord said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. As for the prince, he shall sit in it as prince to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the porch of the gate, and shall go out by the same way.”

This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it. The east gate opens and looks toward the Mount of Olives and we know that when Jesus returns He will return to this mount. (ZEC 14:4).
He will then enter Jerusalem by the east gate. The east gate then speaks of the return of Jesus Christ. For our Christian life is shows us of our need to live with this hope and to long for His return. A specific crown is even given to those who do this (2TI 4:8). Prophetically this gate is very close to the horse gate because the day of God’s wrath ends with the coming of the Lord Jesus as described in Revelation 19.

Then there is the Inspection Gate (verse 31) – The final gate is the inspection gate. This gate speaks to us of the bema seat of Christ where our lives are inspected and rewarded appropriately.

NEH 3:31, After him Malchijah one of the goldsmiths, carried out repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, in front of the Inspection Gate and as far as the upper room of the corner.

In our Christian experience we should be living with this in mind.
We are called to live our lives with eternity in view, caring more for the things of eternity than the temporal that we see around us. Prophetically this gate also speaks of the judgment of the nations that takes place when Jesus returns. This is recorded in the sheep and the goats judgment in MAT 25:31-46.

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