Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they budded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel (Neh. 3:1).
CHAPTER THREE OF NEHEMIAH emphasizes the power of unity e work of rebuilding. There is no single force of man’s own making re powerful than this one. Are we speaking out of turn, or is this not od’s own assessment of the power of unity? In Genesis chapter eleven, we find the whole of human civilization united behind one ideal. Note God’s own words concerning such unity of purpose and philosophy. God’s comments about the work at the tower of Babel should grab our attention in this regard.
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do (Gen. 11:6).
When the people are one in burden, purpose, determination, and effort, there are few things they cannot accomplish. Notice that these men in the plain of Shinar so long ago were not united to do God’s will but were united in rebellion. If those united in purpose to rebel against -God can still accomplish so much when they are one, how much more can the people of God accomplish when they do God’s will in God’s way?
In Nehemiah’s day, the communication of a vision and the story of God’s provision stirred the people of God to action. Their reaction was immediate:
And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work (Neh. 2:18).
They rose up and strengthened their hands to begin the task of the vision that Nehemiah communicated to them.
This chapter demonstrates the importance of all those seemingly insignificant sacrifices that are made to advance the work of God. We may feel that our contribution is just a little drop in the bucket, but every contribution adds up to a significant amount when we all pull together and each one does his part. In chapter three God inspired the meticulous recording of the details of rebuilding, including who performed the various tasks involved. What at times seems insignificant to us, is not insignificant to God. No! He sees and notes every sacrifice that is made, every gift that is offered, and the loving hands that present the gift to His glory.
The task is before them; rebuilding the walls and reconstituting the gates of the city. And so goes the “next unto him” chapter of the Bible. The phrase “next unto him” occurs fifteen times in chapter three. We also find the phrase “after them repaired” sixteen times. In total, phrases that emphasize unity are mentioned thirty-one times. The entire chapter is the catalog of a unified effort. The emphasis of all thirty-two verses is the unified effort of God’s people. Every soul involved in the work of God had someone to work next to him and another to work on the other side or after him. Unity is only as strong as our commitment to it. Unity is our task. Unity is our role.
The single most powerful thing the people of God bring to God’s work is that which only they can provide; unity. Yes, prayer and faith are both powerful and important. But unity goes beyond the power of individual faith or an individual’s prayer because unity multiplies the power of each by the factor of all members. When God blesses and anoints our unity, we possess a powerful force indeed.
We must expend as much effort or more to maintain unity as we expend to do the actual work. “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3) is the biblical directive. Unity is a very worthy endeavor. Whatever the task of our calling may be, the effort to have and maintain unity with our fellow workers is always one of our greatest struggles.
We as churchmen often pray for revival as if real revival happens apart from strong unity in the body. However, in many places that are having strong revivals, the body of believers do not pray for revival but for unity. Unity is not the result of revival; revival is the result of unity.
In John 17, Jesus acted as our intercessor and prayed as our Great High Priest, Who was to offer the perfect sacrifice for sins in just a few short hours. Did Jesus pray for revival to sweep the land? No. Did He pray for souls outside His group of followers to be stirred and repent? No. In fact, He specifically stated that He was not praying for those outside His disciples at all!
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine (John 17:9).
He refused to pray for the “world” but instead focused His prayer on believers. Of course, Jesus was burdened with the need for revival, the need for the expansion of God’s kingdom, and the needs of lost souls. But rather than pray for lost souls, He prayed for the strength and unity of believers. When Jesus prayed that all true believers would be one, He asked for something that only you and I can fulfill. Most prayers are offered to God for things that only He can do. Jesus, as a man, prayed for something that only you and I can bring about unity.
It is true that God is the One who grants the conditions whereby unity can occur, but you and I must choose to take advantage of that situation. We can ask God to create the conditions wherein unity, forgiveness, acceptance, and love rule the day, but God’s people must choose to respond as the Spirit of God moves in that way. As believers unite in their hearts and in their purpose, a real move of God and renewal is the result of that unity!
What Unity is Not
Unity will forever be an elusive thing until we understand what it is. Part of the problem in this area, I believe, is a misconception concerning what unity is and is not. Unity does not mean that we will all agree on everything. As long as we live on this earth, there will be things about which we disagree.
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace . . .Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:3 and 13).
Ephesians chapter four speaks about two different kinds of unity. Note that verse three mentions a unity that was possessed by the Ephesians when Paul penned these words, which is why Paul prayed that they would “keep” it. It is the unity of the Spirit. Verse thirteen mentions a unity that is yet to come: the unity of the faith. The unity of the faith will not be completed until Jesus Christ returns for His church. We must endeavor to be and remain unified in the Spirit until the day when we are in complete unity of faith. This means that there will always be matters of faith about which we disagree, yet we must be willing to make sacrifices so that we can maintain unity in the Spirit.
Beyond the fundamentals of the Christian faith, unity does not mean that we will all have exactly the same views on everything or even the same convictions. A verse I have often heard used to assert that believers must agree on all things in order to have fellowship is:
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3).
Please notice that Amos doesn’t say that the two in question have to agree everything. A minister friend of mine used to say, “They just have to agree to walk together.” There are only two things that we must agree on before we can walk together. We must agree what it means to walk, and we must agree to do it together. We must agree on what salvation is, and we must agree to share it together as we walk with God. Unity does not mean that we will all have the same personality, talents, or strengths. No two people are this much alike. But variety is what makes the church of the living God an exciting thing to be involved with. After all, the church is really not a place, but a body of believers.
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:5).
The church is not a place where we go to worship God; the church is a “spiritual house” and a holy priesthood.
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are budded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 2:21-22).
The church is not an organization, but an organism that grows and is fashioned by God to become a body in which He lives through the Spirit. This is not a place where we go to meet, but something that we become and are. It is the body of Christ!
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion (Isa. 52:8).
Unity does not mean that we will always even understand one another. Chapter fifty-two of Isaiah speaks of a time of spiritual awakening. Those that carry the good tidings, the watchmen, shall see “eye to eye,” or from the same perspective. This does not require us to think exactly alike but rather to be united in spirit, will, and purpose. An eye-to-eye perspective means we view things from the same position or vantage point or from the same level. Seeing eye to eye does not require you and me to understand everything about each other’s life and the situations we have encountered.
The myth of “one mind” is a Christian version of an urban legend. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this myth expressed in the way certain verses are presented or even misquoted. A common example is Acts 2:1 concerning the birth of the church. It is quoted this way: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all in one mind and one accord.” And yet the Scripture states something entirely different:
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1).
They were in one accord. They were united in purpose and agreed to walk together in fellowship. There is no mention of being of one mind or thinking alike and agreeing on all things. This frequent misquotation betrays a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of true unity. The type of unity that brings revival does not require that we all think the same way or that we agree on every issue outside fundamental doctrine.
What Unity Is
Unity means that we agree on the things that are essential. This agreement begins when we understand why certain things are essential. The things that are crucial to God must be essential in His church. We may not reject the plain teaching of the Bible in word or principle because it is uncomfortable to us.
Unity is recognizing the things that are not essential. If it is not in Bible in word or principle, then no matter how firmly our belief is it may be only our preference. I hasten to add that we should be careful here! Don’t be too quick to classify things that you have not taken the time to see or understand in God’s Word as nonessential. 7.17 say say that these things are nonessential simply because you don’t understand them. Seek to understand them before dismissing them. A common mistake that many make is to close their eyes to certain portions of God’s Word so that they can justify classifying everything about the Christian life they don’t like as “nonessential.” Ignorance is no excuse!
Unity is refusing to think less of my brother because we disagree on the nonessentials. Seeing eye to eye has more to do with your position than it has to do with what is seen.
Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits (Rom. 12:16).
The area that Scripture commands us to be of the same mind has to do with how we view each other. If you refuse to “look down” on your brother, but view him as you do yourself, then even if you do not agree with him, you can see things from his point of view. What is the correct point of view? We must see ourselves and our brothers as sinners saved by grace. This is the point of view that unites instead of separating.
A minister who is much esteemed in my fellowship once used the following in a message to illustrate the concept of a common perspective. He mentioned the cherubims on the mercy seat in the tabernacle in the wilderness. These cherubims were positioned opposite to each other. Their wings swept up and touched one another’s at the top. This is unity of the Spirit. As we reach up to touch God, we also touch each other. The cherubims each looked down at the place on the mercy seat where the bowl of blood was placed on the Day of Atonement. This is the unity of the faith. As long as we consider the blood that purchased our redemption and as long as our focus is on the mercy of God that is extended to us by the blood of Jesus, we will have to remain close to each other. This is seeing eye to eye or viewing each other from the same perspective.
Maintaining the unity of the spirit means touching our brothers and sisters spiritually because of our position in Christ. It also means maintaining a view of self and others that sees all through the blood of Jesus.
What is the Price of Unity?
And so what will the price of such unity add up to? First, it will cost us a willingness to set aside divisive issues in the interest of the Gospel. It will also require that we submit our personality and ego to the lordship of Jesus Christ. (This is certainly part of the requirement when we come to the Lord initially. How soon we forget.) In addition, it requires a willingness to pay whatever price necessary to have a sufficient quantity of God’s Spirit so that all our peculiarities and idiosyncrasies can be melded together into one body; the church.
The holy anointing oil in the Old Testament was a symbol of sanctification for service. (See Exod. 30:22-25). All the ingredients that went into the holy anointing oil had a price attached to them, all except the olive oil. Olive oil is a type of the Holy Spirit. It is the single ingredient that caused all of the other dissimilar ingredients to blend together and form a single unit. Without olive oil, the ingredients that made up the holy anointing oil would never be able to mix. Moses’ instruction was to purchase as much of the other ingredients as so many shekels would buy. But when it came to the single ingredient that binds all the others together, the purchase price was not mentioned. Moses was to pay whatever price he had to in order to make sure there was an abundant supply of olive oil. We must pay whatever price necessary to have enough of the Holy Spirit needed to meld us all together in unity.
The result of blending all these ingredients together was the “holy anointing oil.” This is what was used to anoint the tabernacle, the Ark of theCovenant, all the vessels of the tabernacle, and even those who ministered in the tabernacle, the priests. This oil tells the story of how God takes different people with different talents and ideas from all walks blends them together, and makes of them something that is able whatever this combination touches. The olive oil contained the holy anointing oil represents what the Spirit does today to cause to be able to mix and commingle until we become a single unit.
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13).
The result of this mixture is unity. Unity is that which anoints and prepares us for ministry. Because of this, anoints and prepares we must be willing to pay whatever price necessary to have enough of God’s Spirit to enable us to enjoy the unity of our own spirits. We must continue to reach upward toward God until we touch Him. And when we do touch Him, we will also be touching each other!
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments (Ps. 133:1-2).
You say, “But I thought the Holy Spirit anoints us for ministry.” This is true. But the Holy Spirit is the ingredient than unifies and gives meaning to the body of believers. The Spirit is that which blends all the talents, the burden, the personality of all believers together. The Holy Ghost is the unifying force within the church. The unity that results is the precious ointment that anoints the church for service. Restoration and renewal are the results of that unity.
What is the price of unit? It makes no difference what the price is. Unity is what we must have if we are going to do God’s work! The only prayer request I know of that Jesus gave to His disciples to help Him pray about was for God to send laborers to work in the field.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest (Matt. 9:36-38).
When Jesus Himself addressed the issue of the harvest in His own priestly prayer of John 17, He did so by asking for the only thing that He could not Himself provide. He prayed for the unity of believers. This is the only thing that Jesus, in His priestly role as the sacrifice and sacrificer, asked for relative to His own mission. It is a prayer that can be fulfilled only in and by His believers. Unity.
Do you sometimes feel like you are disconnected from the rest of God’s church? Do you feel like you are an outsider, not with it, on the fringe? Well, don’t you know that Satan wants you to feel that way? Why not examine the reasons why you feel that way?
I can recall similar feelings expressed to me a number of times by folks to whom I minister. These same people don’t come to the house of God when the rest of the church meets or as often as the church meets. They don’t participate in the things the body of Christ does to create fellowship and make folks feel a part. They fail to invest anything in corporate worship when they do come. They also don’t accept the same responsibilities for the work of God that the other members of God’s church accept.
Get the picture? Why is it so shocking and strange to these folks that they don’t really feel as though they are a part of the church? After all, fellowship is two fellows in the same ship. You can’t have fellowship if the ship launches out and you are still standing on the dock. For those of you who see others becoming more and more unattached and wonder what you should do, I offer the example of sympathetic harmony. The gentleman that tunes our piano explained to me some things about the instrument and the tuning of it. On the upper notes of the keyboard, the piano has three strings. These strings are tuned to a given pitch in three octaves. But no two strings or three strings for that matter will ever be perfectly the same frequency.
In short, they will always be a little off. The key to tuning is to get all three strings so close that the human ear can’t hear the difference. The Spirit of God tunes us so that, even though we will never be perfectly on key, most humans will not be able to notice. Now over time, one string in the set will always stretch more than the others. This string goes flat in its pitch. When struck, its frequency will bang against the vibrations the other strings make. The strings still on key will vibrate and try to bring the flat string up to pitch. This is called sympathetic harmony. This is what the saints who are still fairly close to true pitch should try to do with the saint who is a little stretched and off-key. We must be sympathetic and try to cause those who are flat in their pitch to reach higher toward our Lord.
In the same way, sustain is the quality that these three frequencies have when they are extremely close to each other. The vibrations work together to cause the note to sound loud, clear, and sweet. This sweet note can ring on and on. When we let the Spirit of God tune us up to true pitch, we will be able to sustain the difficulties of life and even contribute to each other in this way. Unity is sweet harmony unto the Lord that will sustain and echo God’s love back into eternity.
How are the walls built? I believe the single most important thing God’s people bring to the table in any effort is unity. There is nothing that can encourage a move of God more than unity in the body of Christ. There is nothing that will promote the work of rebuilding and renewal more that the sweet sound of believers working together toward godly goals.
The Enemy of Unity
And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord (N eh. 3:5).
Sadly, there are enemies of unity. The chief enemy rears its ugly head even in the midst of this tremendous display of man’s most powerful force. What is the name of this enemy? Pride. The Tekoite “nobles” or, as the word can be literally translated, “the exalted ones” withdrew from the work and stood aloof. They were content to leave the work to the “common” people of their family.
Even though their pride threatened the spirit of unity among the workers, there is no hint that the Tekoite nobles had issue with the work itself. They just didn’t want their necks doing it! The family of God is filled with people who have no issue with the work of rebuilding so long as their necks don’t have to be put to the task. They will tell you that they are not an enemy of unity, and yet their attitude is highly contagious. Their attitude and actions are observed by all around them and certainly do not go unnoticed by God.
We are not told how these nobles went about mounting such a “high horse,” but it is certain that once mounted they were not about to come down where others lived and worked. They were exalted above their brothers and sisters and were not willing to come down to the level at which everyone else existed.
It grieves me to say that this prideful attitude is still alive and well today. Of all the nobles in Jerusalem, only one group had this attitude. But one bunch is enough to threaten the unity of the entire work of God. This prideful attitude represents the greatest threat to the unity of God’s people in the work at hand. This is a sobering statement once the power of a church unified in the work of rebuilding is understood. The church today is afflicted with many like the Tekoite nobles of old. They feel that their position precludes them from bearing the burden of God’s work. After all, isn’t their task that of leadership? Aren’t they God’s anointed? Well, God’s anointing does rest on certain heads necks that feel the burden of His work!
By pointing this out, do we place ourselves in opposition to leadership? Not at all. But it is important to understand that leadership is a character trait, not necessarily an office or position. It is certainly a happy combination when those who occupy the position reserved for leadership possess the quality of character that defines a leader, but this is not always the case. The behavior of the Tekoite nobles proves something that wise people have observed for years. When one does not possess the strength of character that defines leadership, occupying the position of nobility will not elevate one’s nature.
Humility- A Crucial Leadership Trait
What is the quality of character that denotes true leadership? First and foremost, the word is “humility.” Humility is exactly the opposite trait of the prideful attitude displayed by the Tekoite nobles. God’s leadership dynamic in this way is diametrically positioned against that of the world. Note the words of Jesus:
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:4).
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3).
Jesus’ leadership dynamic is the exact opposite of that which the world emanates! All of the great leaders in the Word of God have possessed humility.
Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth (Num. 12:3).
When we speak about Moses, Samuel, Joseph, David, Daniel, and Nehemiah, we are talking about people who walked before God and men in humility.
We would not even know of Nehemiah’s position as the king’s cupbearer had it not played a crucial part in his story in chapter one! We do not learn that the king had indeed appointed him as governor of Jerusalem until 5:14, and only because it has to do with the story itself. Nehemiah was one of the greatest leaders that Israel ever saw. Yet we do not hear much at all about him and his life in the book that he penned. Here is a man with a pure heart, a clear mind, strong shoulders, and a willing neck. He will not have others do all the work while he watches!
How should we respond to the spirit of pride that threatens unity in the work of God? Ignore the person being used by the devil, and focus on doing twice as much work.
After them the Tekoites repaired another piece, over against the great tower that lieth out, even unto the wall of Ophel (Neh. 3:27).
While the Tekoite nobles left the real work to the common people, these people responded in an uncommon way. They were not content to do only their allotted task while the nobles watched from atop their high horses. They forced the stiff-necked and prideful nobility to watch them repair yet another section of wall.
The Tekoite nobles paced and stomped about with necks stiff and jaws clenched, hoping that no one would notice the obvious. That is, the common people were able to accomplish twice as much as others, even when deprived of their esteemed leadership. It is not certain how many people in that day discerned this fact. But there was One who did discern it, duly note, and permanently record it that being God Himself! God duly noted those who occupied positions of leadership and yet refused to lead. God noted that the Tekoites themselves responded to the vacuum of leadership and potential determent to unity in a most positive and insightful way by taking up the slack without complaint.
This was no doubt an embarrassment to their nobles. They were forced to stand by with arms folded while the “commoners” did twice the amount of work that was expected of them! Let this be a lesson to those afflicted with this sort of prideful “leadership.” Instead of railing against the errant nobles for attitudes and actions that are detrimental to unity, why not force them to endure a practical lesson in unity building? Why not force them to observe true leadership in action doing what their pride prevented them from doing; building unity?
The only way the potential harm caused by prideful indifference can be quickly counteracted is through assertive action. Those in positions of leadership who act in ways less benign to the work of rebuilding must be dealt with on a different level. But those who threaten unity by stupid indifference should be considered irrelevant, and their deadweight should be overcome by a quiet doubling of effort.
Things God Notices About Our Work
After him Baruch the son of Zabbai earnestly repaired the other piece , from the turning of the wall unto the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest (Neh. 3:20).
Before we pass the thought of God’s observance of man’s efforts toward rebuilding, let us mention that it is not only the amount we accomplish that is noticed, but also the attitude with which work is approached. Baruch repaired “earnestly,” or with burning fervor. He may not have accomplished more than his fellow laborers, yet the burning desire with which he approached the task distinguished him from others. God’s work needs more uncommon Tekoites and intense Baruchs. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Eccles. 9:10).
Of course, Baruch did his duty in promoting unity and working for the Lord. But beyond this obvious point, the Lord also noted the attitude with which he approached his task: “earnestly.” It doesn’t say that Baruch did a better job than others did, but that he approached the work “earnestly” or with burning zeal. Earnest work will be rewarded. It is noted in heaven.
God notices when, in unity with the family of God, we labor alone among others.
After him repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah over against his chamber (Neh. 3:30).
We don’t know if Meshullam had a family, but it is unlikely. While the “house” of others is mentioned, Meshullam had only a chamber against the wall he built. There are those who even in the midst of the family of God, for whatever reason, find themselves alone. Yet they labor on and do their part. Know that God sees your work and understands that it is perhaps even a greater sacrifice for you to rebuild that which is decayed and destroyed.
God notices when ordinary people do extraordinary things.
And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters (Neh. 3:12) .
God is an equal opportunity employer. Shallum must not have had sons, but his daughters wanted to make a contribution. So they did, and God noticed. Those stones were huge! How these girls moved them, we do not know. Men, never underestimate the power of a determined woman. If you have ever witnessed childbirth, you should be asking God why He called females the “weaker vessel.”
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might (Eccles. 9:10).
If rebuilding is worth doing, it is worth giving our best in the effort. The most powerful thing the family of God can bring to the table when it comes to God’s work is unity. And unity is only as strong as our commitment to it!
There will be times when we will be disappointed in others’ attitudes toward our common task. The proper response is one that refuses to allow indifferent pride to spread. We must quietly redouble our effort and refuse to let resentment breed disunity.
There are many things about our efforts unnoticed by others but certainly noticed by God, including:
– Our reaction to prideful leadership
– The attitude with which we approach our work
– When we work beside others, yet alone in ourselves
– When ordinary people do extraordinary things
Over Against His House
And next unto them repaired Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, even over against his house (Neh. 3:10).
After him repaired Benjamin and Hashub over against their house (Neh. 3:23).
From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his house (Neh. 3:28).
After them repaired Zadok the son of Immer over against his house (Neh. 3:29).
We have spent a great deal of time talking about walls and what they represent in a believer’s life. We must introduce another concept in conjunction with the principle that walls provide protection and distinction. The concept is that these boundaries must be anchored in our home life. What good are walls of protection and distinction if our homes, the places we live, are outside that which protects and distinguishes God’s people from all others? There must be no false division between sacred and secular in this regard. Separation from the world and unto God must be a concept that is firmly rooted in the way we live and conduct our everyday lives.
Four people or groups of people are said to have repaired “over against” their houses. Several others worked near their houses, and the walls are related in proximity even to the king’s house (vs25). The requirement that we relate our life and household to the work of God is one that extends throughout the entire spectrum of God’s family, from priest to king to singles to families to everyone. None is exempt from this requirement.
It is a sad mistake to divide family and personal interests from the overall effort toward renewal in God’s church. The importance of the household in the work of God can never be exaggerated. The importance of God’s work in your personal and family life can also never be exaggerated. Why should we think that the two are different? How important it is to link our home and family life to the progress of God’s work as a whole.
The Ten Gates of Worship
…thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise (Isa. 60:18).
Entrance within the walls of salvation is obtained through the gates of praise. Walls and boundaries are good, decent, and proper, and so are gates. Walls without gates are incomplete, and gates without sturdy walls are pointless.
As Nehemiah details the progress that was made on the construction of the walls, he also mentions the gates. In fact, his description of the work that took place was framed in relation to the ten gates of the wall. The gates of praise are part and parcel of the walls of salvation. One without the other is incomplete, and the work of rebuilding must involve both at the same time. What were the gates, and how do they relate to our experience today?
Repairing the Sheep Gate: Sacrifice
Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they budded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel (Neh. 3:1).
The first of the ten gates of Jerusalem mentioned is the sheep gate. This gate was repaired by the high priest with his brethren. The sheep gate was so called because through this gate all the sacrifices of the nation were brought forward to be offered. The first gate to be repaired in our work of rebuilding must be that of sacrifice.
Sacrifice is part and parcel of worship; in fact, so much so that worship without sacrifice is a dangerous thing indeed. Worship without sacrifice causes men not to appreciate the holiness of God or understand the gravity of sin. When we know that we cannot approach God without the blood of sacrifice to cover our sin, we begin to comprehend the holiness of God. When we see that some innocent one die for our transgression, we understand the gravity of sin.
If you want to know how God feels about sin – go to Calvary. Witness the suffering that took place for your sin. If you want to gain understanding of God’s holiness; go to Calvary. Take notice of the fact that Christ’s death was necessary that you might approach a holy God. If you want to know how God feels about you, also, go to Calvary. Note that this plan was drawn up before the foundation of the world so that you could be restored to Him.
The beginning of God’s plan for you involved a sacrifice. The beginning of your worship of Him must also involve a sacrifice. Make sure as you rebuild the walls of protection that the sheep gate is repaired and ready to function. Do this work early and do it well.
Of course, it was the priesthood that worked diligently to repair this gate. The priest in each of us must rise up and repair the sheep gate. A wall without a gate of sacrifice will never do. For then it becomes a cold, hard structure that is void of God’s grace. Any true priest of the Most High understands this.
The gate was rebuilt and sanctified, and the doors were set up. After a time of spiritual devastation it is not enough merely to acknowledge the sacrifice of Jesus. We must rebuild this gate or our effort to reestablish our relationship with the Holy is incomplete. We must reestablish the priority of Christ’s blood in our relationship with the Lord or that relationship is lacking. Worship that is not based on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is incomplete. Don’t wait until the wall is done to emphasize this truth.
Notice that the priesthood also sanctified this gate. To sanctify means literally “to make holy.” How can sinful man make anything become exactly what he is not; holy? On the surface this hardly makes sense, unless we understand it other than on the surface. We must understand that when man sanctifies anything, he is acting in harmony with God. If man by his own actions could make something holy, he should start with himself! We must understand that only as we act in harmony with God and in accordance with His will can we set something aside to His service and have that object be accepted by Him. The bottom line is that man cannot sanctify anything by himself. Sanctification is a process that must involve God and conform to His will.
Sanctification as it relates to the sheep gate requires that man offer that which is acceptable to God and in accordance to His perfect will. This is man’s part; offering according to God’s perfect will. God’s part is the acceptance of that offering and the setting apart of this sacrifice for His purpose. The perfect example of this process is found, of course, in the offering of that perfect sacrifice, the life and body of Christ. This offering was in complete accordance with the will of God and therefore set aside and made effectual for all that receive it. As we follow this pattern in worship, the Scripture directs us to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). As we do this in accordance with God’s plan and by virtue of Christ’s shed blood, the ongoing process of sanctification is the result.
But God can only make holy that which has been presented to Him and presented according to His will. Setting aside and designating something for God’s service must involve Him and must be done His way. After all, He is the only One Who can actually set aside and make holy. Men therefore only offer that which God desires. God does the rest.
Building the Fish Gate: Discipleship
But the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof (Neh. 3:3).
The fish gate was where fish from the seacoast made their way into the city. Jesus did not hesitate to use fishermen. He said, “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). The next gate of worship involves exactly that; following Him and becoming what He desires to make of us. This gate is called discipleship.
Discipleship concerns these two concepts: following Jesus wherever He leads us and allowing Him to make of us whatever He desires. Both of these actions require an abnegation of self and an accentuation of Him. We must set aside our own desires and preferences that we may follow Him. We must surrender to His control so that He can fashion in us what He desires.
How is it that many build up the walls of salvation that have been neglected and destroyed, but fail to include the fish gate in their plans? This gate was and always has been a part of the Christian experience. Will you rebuild your wall without a gate where once hearty disciples of Jesus passed into the earthly city on their way to New Jerusalem? Will you try to reconstruct what has gone to ruins in your life while skipping this vital aspect of your overall worship and experience with the Lord?
Jesus told those fishermen long ago to follow Him. Follow they did. The journey the Lord led them on took them out of their comfort zone. He called them to walk by faith in places and in ways that they had never walked before. They walked on water; they walked through the darkness of the shadow of death; they walked through doubt and discouragement. They were constantly challenged and pushed to the limits of their understanding and experience. But this was the nature of discipleship. This was and is yet today what being a disciple of Jesus the Christ really means.
Jesus reminded those who dared follow Him that “the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). As far as we know, the man they followed never claimed a single piece of real estate, never staked out a profitable business, never owned a home. All that the world points to as signs of stability and security were not present in the life of their chosen leader. He demanded that they “let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22). Nothing was to interfere with their ability and willingness to answer His call. No property, business, romantic interest, not even familial considerations.
And where would He lead them? From one angry encounter with the religious and cultural leadership to another. From one experience of tremendous healing to another. From one demonstration of the futility of convincing unbelief to another. What a rich and varied experience has always been a part of true discipleship! One thing discipleship is not; it is not boring.
And then there is the aspect of discipleship described by Jesus as “making you to become.” No one who encountered the Savior remained the same. They were either drawn unto His fellowship and transformed by it or rejected the love of God and became embittered and hardened. Every life He touched was affected. From Mary Magdalene to Mathew the publican, from those of His hometown of Nazareth to the likes of Nicodemus, from a murderer named Barabbas to blind Bartimaeus; all were profoundly affected when exposed to this teacher and healer.
Should we expect less of the disciples themselves? Should we not expect them to affect others? The promise made at the beginning of their journey was that they would be profoundly impacted by their journey and fellowship. They would become fishers of men. Certainly this was true. The effect their tour of discipleship had upon them can only be understood by other Christian disciples who also have known the thrill of victory and the agony of failure. But Christian discipleship is not only a series of significant and life-changing events. No! Although the disciples of Jesus no doubt experienced enough during their years of following the man from Galilee to ruminate upon and learn from for a lifetime, this was not the extent of the transforming power of Jesus.
After these traumatic and life-changing experiences and the Lord’s passion came the news of His resurrection. The disciples did not have long to wait for proof. He appeared unto them, and all doubt of this miracle was erased. His appearance to them after the resurrection was over a period of forty days and on many occasions. Finally came the last such event. His final instruction to the small band of followers before He ascended up into heaven was to go and tarry, tarry for a transforming experience that would mark a new era in their discipleship. They were to be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence. These were the last words He shared with them before He ascended up into heaven.
And so it was on a day used to celebrate and commemorate the communication of God’s law to man on tables of stone that God chose to transmit the righteousness embodied in the law into men’s hearts. The day of Pentecost marked a new beginning for those known as Jesus’ disciples. They never stopped being Jesus’ followers, but after receiving the Holy Spirit within, they also became leaders! They spoke with the authority and unction that He spoke with. The comment that we read men making about these fishers of men is that “they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). And thus were the words of Jesus fulfilled. “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”
Oh rebuilder, as you build up that which has decayed and is in ruins in your own life, don’t neglect the fish gate. The fish gate is the entrance that represents your willingness to follow Him and His desire to make of you one that others can follow.
Repairing the Old Gate: True Doctrine
Moreover the old gate repaired Jehoiada the son of Paseah, and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah; they laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, and the locks thereof, and the bars thereof (Neh. 3:6).
The old gate is quite simply the gate that was always there. The “gate of the old” is the literal translation of this expression. Although all the gates were old, this one appeared to be the oldest. Its existence predated the people’s knowledge and records.
We live in a world where new is a term used as a synonym for “better.” It is assumed that whatever is new is somehow superior to the old. Youth is worshiped and maturity shunned. Terms like “new and improved,” “modern and up-to-date,” and “the latest in state-of-the-art” serve to demonstrate how we have been conditioned to accept the latest thing as an improvement over that which came before. Well, this may be true with computers, automobiles, communication technologies, and other devices, but it is patently untrue regarding our faith.
Concerning our faith, older is better. In fact, that which is older in the area of our religion and how we relate to God is so far superior to modern trends that we are told many times in Scripture to reject the new and wholeheartedly embrace the old.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3).
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein (Jer. 6:16).
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Col. 2:8).
To “spoil” in King James era language means to confiscate the best of. For example, to spoil a city means to plunder the city and confiscate its wealth. To be spoiled as a believer means to have the most valuable things of our Christian faith plundered. Don’t let the enemy take from you the tried and true and in its place substitute the new and inferior.
The work of rebuilding consists of building that which has been allowed to decay or has been torn down. We are to rebuild that which once existed. The old gate is that which existed first. When it comes to a relationship with God that which is old is better. The old way is the best way… yes, it is the only way.
Too often in an attempt to hurry the “bootstrap” process, men rush to claim completion of a rebuilding effort that has only begun. They hurriedly accept that which was not part of the original plan or structure so that they can call the work done and cease the strenuous effort. But God points us to the old gate and insists that we stick with the plan He has ordained. No shortcuts here! No new and improved methods are allowed in His work. We must stick to the original plan.
The Valley Gate: Humility
The valley gate repaired Hanun, and the inhabitants of Zanoah; they built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof, and a thousand cubits on the wall unto the dung gate (Neh. 3:13).
The valley gate speaks of the humility we learn as we travel through the valley of the shadow of death. That is what our life on earth is a journey through the valley of the shadow of death. To live in someone’s shadow means to live under the influence and to be subjugated to them. Even though our journey through life is subject to death, there is a day coming when we shall have the final victory. There is a day when we shall come out the other side and enter into His life forever, as we step through the gate and into that eternal city.
David spoke of the valley:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (Ps. 23:4).
What makes the valley so gloomy isn’t death, for death would only hasten our entrance into glory. What makes the valley so melancholy is the shadow that death casts upon those who travel this way? It is the passing of friends and loved ones that go before us to glory or, worse still, whose eternal fate is uncertain. This is what casts such a shadow upon those left behind to complete the journey alone. But thanks be to God, if death cannot accomplish the determination of our eternal abode by its appearance, its shadow certainly will not accomplish that either. If death’s appearance only hastens our glory, his shadow only makes us more eager for the same! David said that the Lord his Shepherd went with him through this valley. God has promised to you and me His abiding presence and His ultimate deliverance “through” this valley.
Notice also the aspect of humility associated with this gate of worship. In order to enter the city of God through the valley gate requires that you to go through a valley. You must go down before you go up. You must be humbled before you can be exalted. We are told to
Humble [ourselves] therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in clue time (I Pet. 5:6).
Again, we are told,
God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (James 4:6).
The valley gate is open to the humble, but closed tight against the proud. Worship is not a formula to be followed with the promise of certain results. Worship is a relationship with a holy and all-powerful God, Who deserves our very best and desires our fellowship. But fellowship with Him cannot be achieved unless we are able to humble ourselves and approach Him on His terms. He accepts no demands and entertains no conditions.
The Dung Gate: Cleansing
But the dung gate repaired Malchiah the son of Rechab, the ruler of part of Beth-haccerem; he built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof (Neh. 3:14).
The dung gate was so known not because of what came in through it, but because of what went out. This was the gate through which the residents of Jerusalem disposed of all their waste and garbage. Not a pleasant thought, but every city needs a way to rid itself of its own waste. In fact, every single living thing produces waste. Deprive it of a method to expel waste, and the organism will die from its own poison.
The longest distance between two gates is the one thousand cubits from the valley gate to the dung gate. It may take a while to get there, but after some time our humbling experience at the valley gate should result in some changes in our life. Some of the refuse and garbage of the old life will have to go. If God has really worked in our lives and we are humble before Him, then there is some waste left over from the past that must be expelled lest we become poisoned on our own refuse.
We must accept the fact that one of the ten gates of worship is so known because of that which exits there. The spiritual and worshipful life should produce holiness. Holiness is both positive and negative. It signifies separation from the world of sin unto the God of righteousness. When holiness is internalized, it becomes evident that the Lord desires us to separate ourselves from certain practices and attitudes so that we may give ourselves completely to Him. Where do these practices and attitudes go? When we serve them an eviction notice, they exit by way of the dung gate. As offensive and distasteful as this may sound, consider how essential to our spiritual health the function of purging and cleansing really is. It is, in fact, essential to our spiritual survival and continual worship. We should never be so deceived as to believe that God sanctifies that which is filthy in our lives. The only filth that He sanctifies is man himself, and He does that by cleansing us. With Him in our lives the cleansing continues. Let this forever be established and understood by the existence of the dung gate as one of the ten gates of worship.
Repairing the Gate of the Fountain: Spirit Infilling
But the gate of the fountain repaired Shallun the son of Col-hozeh, the ruler of part of Mizpah; he built it, and covered it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof, and the wall of the pool of Siloah by the king’s garden, and unto the stairs that go down from the city of David (Neh. 3:15).
The gate of the fountain is an essential gate of worship. The fountain designated by this gate was an artesian well located inside the city walls. Just as every city must have an internal water supply in order to remain secure, every soul must have an internal fountain in order to withstand the assault from the world. An essential task of renewal and rebuilding is to repair the gate of the fountain. Our internal fountain is the springing up of the Holy Spirit in our spirit.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture tenth said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:38).
“Rivers of living water” an internal source that supplies all our needs and makes us secure. God places this source inside man: “out of his belly [innermost being]” when the Spirit sets up residence inside man. “But this spake He of the Spirit” (John 7:39). Water is essential to life, and our continued existence relies upon a constant supply.
What happens when men go through a time of spiritual desolation? If water is essential and the Holy Spirit is the source of continual renewed supply, what happens when men forsake that supply? When men forsake the living water from God, they must turn to another source. Life requires water. The source of our water is the issue. Jeremiah observed this phenomenon.
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters , and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns , that can hold no water (Jer. 2:13).
In an effort to replace the fountain of living waters, men try to devise methods of gathering and preserving water. When we serve God, that for which our soul longs is supplied in a never-exhausting fountain. When we forsake Him, this supply must be replaced, and so we must turn to another source.
First, a word about forsaking God. If it were impossible to forsake God, this passage in Jeremiah and literally hundreds of passages in the holy writ become absolutely unintelligible. Why does the Word of God spend so much time warning against and providing examples of something that cannot happen? Further, the ministry and inspired record of the postexilic prophets and leaders would not be needed and should be stricken from Scripture. The nation of Judah didn’t truly forsake God but only had a temporary lapse of memory, which a vacation in Babylon cured! It is easily seen how absurd it is to argue against the possibility of something that major portions of God’s Word are dedicated to warning about, correcting afterward, and strengthening against.
Now a word about these “broken cisterns.” A cistern is designed to gather water from other sources. It has no source of its own but only accumulates what runs off from rain and groundwater. And so it is defective in its very concept. It provides no water but only gathers from other sources. There is another problem. All man’s spiritual cisterns “broken.” Any moisture that is directed toward them cannot be preserved because they are broken and leak. All attempts on the part of to provide his own source of spiritual sustenance is but a broken cistern. It has no spiritual power on its own, and even that which is gathered from other sources and invested in these broken cisterns only leaks out and returns to its source. The source of all spiritual blessings is God. He makes it rain on the just and unjust alike. He makes water flow in the rivers and streams. There is really only one source of blessing. All efforts by man to control and bottle, so to speak, this source of blessing see the blessing leak out and return to its source; God.
So why do men forsake His endless supply? Why do men try in vain to supply for themselves what God has already provided? It is not so much that man has a problem with God’s provision as he wishes to control the supply of it. The fountain of living water is always fresh and clean, but it cannot be measured, directed, reallocated, or funneled. In short, the spiritual blessings of God cannot be controlled by man. And hence men turn to their own futile devices to redirect, funnel, and gather what leaks out and returns to God as fast as it feeds in. God and His blessings will not be controlled and manipulated by men!
Repairing the fountain gate means recognizing and codifying this understanding in our worship. If we will accept His supply, then His supply will be in us. This means that rather than us controlling it, it controls us! Jesus explained the spiritual birth to Nicodemus in John chapter three. When describing what it is like to be born of the Spirit, Jesus compared it to the wind.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but cant not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit (John 3:8).
Go and see if you can control the wind. Bottle it up, quantify it, analyze and understand it. Do you have control of it yet? Fine, catch that breeze and paint it yellow! Ridiculous, isn’t it? You hear the sound of the wind and feel the effects of it, but you will never, ever control it. “So is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
The fountain gate reminds us that God is in control. When you receive His Spirit, you receive an abundant supply of His power and goodness. But you will never be able to control God. You might as well allow Him to control you. We do well to learn from trees that grow up under the constant pressure of a prevailing wind. Those that grow up and thrive are the ones that remain flexible and learn to bend in the direction of the wind. Those that don’t bend are snapped off or grow up battered and twisted.
Over Against the Water Gate: The Word of God
Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out (Neh. 3:26).
The water gate gave access to the Gibeon Spring outside the wall. Unlike the artesian well near the gate of the fountain, this source of water was located outside the walls. It is significant to me that later on when a pulpit was built and the scribe Ezra led the people to renew their covenant with God, the site of the water gate was chosen. The water gate is associated with the Word of God. We are to receive the “washing of water by the Word” (Eph. 5:26).
Notice, again, how the fountain gate and the water gate are associated. The fountain gate represents the indwelling of God’s Spirit in the believer. The source of its water is inside the walls because His Spirit lives inside believers to provide internal instruction and direction. The next gate mentioned is that called the water gate. The source of its water is outside the walls because the Word of God is to be received, accepted, and acted upon by the believer. We are to “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). After being received from an external source, the Word of God comes into our lives and becomes a part of our experience. The Word enables us to relate to God. The way the Word of God is received into our hearts is through a gate of worship called the water gate.
Beginning with the water gate and continuing through the remainder of the gates mentioned, there is no mention of the gates themselves being repaired. When the entire wall was in need of repair and most of the gates burned with fire, apparently some of the gates escaped total destruction to remain intact.
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure. . . (2 Tim. 2:19).
Everything around God’s Word is subject to decay, but not the Word of God!
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away (Matt. 24:35).
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever (Isa. 40:8).
When all around is sinking sand, anchor your weary soul to the eternal, unchanging Word. Let this outer source of strength and refreshment come into your life and find a home.
Above the Horse Gate: Christ’s Return
From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his house (Neh. 3:28).
The last three gates of worship speak of the return of Jesus Christ and the events surrounding His advent. Should we be surprised that the hope of redemption is expressed in the gates of worship and in particular the final three? We have the horse gate (vs28), the east gate (vs29), and the gate Miphkad or “review” (vs31). Here we have three impressive pictures of the Redeemer Himself. First, Jesus is seen entering the foray at Armageddon upon a white horse, next marching to victory and entering triumphant through the eastern gate to be crowned King of kings, and finally personally reviewing those who have served Him and been faithful to Him.
Encapsulated and expressed in the worship of the Redeemer is the hope of redemption. He is the hope of all nations. The first time He came, He was meek and lowly. He rode on an “ass and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matt. 21:5). In biblical times when the king came to town on a donkey, it was a sign of peace. At His first advent, our King came in peace as the Prince of peace. However, we should also understand that in a world of violence, peace can only be imposed by the rod of iron. The King comes to us next riding a white warhorse (Rev. 19:11). He is coming in vengeance (Ps. 149:7). He will make war and emerge victorious (Rev. 19:19-21). There will be no challenge left to His absolute rule (Rev. 19:15). Even Satan himself will be bound, as the peace of God will be imposed upon the entire earth for a term of one thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3).
The horse gate points us to a concept that it seems each generation must learn anew: that peace comes only through strength. This fact has been proven true in our world of violence countless times. It is true that might does not make right, but weakness cannot promote anything but failure and subservience. Moral strength may only be supported by projection of that same strength into other areas and expressions. In a world of violence and wickedness, the righteous can continue to exist only by the righteous use of strength to protect and preserve what is right. Peace does not happen because good people get together and think good thoughts. It happens because the bad guys are afraid to upset the peace that is imposed upon them by others who have both the strength and resolve to maintain that peace.
The horse gate tells us that there is a day quickly approaching when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will impose peace on earth through the righteous expression of His strength. Now, understand the spiritual significance of this statement:
Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice (Isa. 9:7).
The day is quickly approaching when the Prince of peace will take His position upon the throne of David. The throne of David is in Jerusalem, not in heaven. Jesus Christ will return in glory, power, and splendor. He will order, establish, and administer a kingdom of peace with judgment and justice. His moral strength will be projected by His judgment and justice. In this sense the increase of Christ’s government and peace go hand in hand.
And this is true on an individual basis as well. We cannot expect the Lord’s peace to increase in our life if we are unwilling to allow His government to do the same. Jesus must order, establish, and administer His peace by projecting the strength and righteousness of His government further into the territories of our heart. When we enter the presence of God through the horse gate, we understand that God’s peace and His government go hand in hand.
The Keeper of the East Gate: The Millennial Reign
After them repaired Zadok the son of Immer over against his house. After him repaired also Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the east gate (Neh. 3:29).
Shemaiah is mentioned as laboring adjacent to Zadok the son of Immer. And then Shemaiah’s position is revealed. He is “the keeper of the east gate.” His name means “Jehovah is heard” or “obeys the Lord.” He is the picture of one who hears and obeys the Lord God.
Since Shemaiah was a gatekeeper, he was obviously a Levite. Some have associated this gate with the gate of the inner court of the temple mentioned in Ezekiel 46:1. This seems reasonable, as Nehemiah does not mention the east gate being repaired at all. What is stated is that the man who repaired the wall beside Zadok happened to be the keeper of the east gate.
The Mishnah, an ancient written collection of Jewish oral traditions, mentions the east gate being the gate used by the high priest on certain special occasions (Midd. 1:3-4). Ezekiel tells us that the east gate was to be opened only on the Sabbath and in the day of the new moon. This is the way the “prince” (perhaps the high priest) was to enter the temple and go forth (Ezek. 46:8).
The east gate, like the horse gate, speaks of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Prince who will enter the temple in Jerusalem after enforcing peace by the strength of His righteousness. As the Prince of peace and King of kings, He will return to Jerusalem to set up His kingdom of a thousand years of peace (Rev. 20:4). Jesus is the Prince Who will enter the temple by way of the eastern gate. He will return to Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna” and “blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:39). And when the Lord of Glory once again steps into the temple, that which has remained desolate and barren will once again contain the glory of the Lord, thus fulfilling the words of Jesus concerning the temple that were spoken during His first advent:
Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (Luke 13:35).
Then shall be brought to pass the prophecy:
But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him (Hab. 2:20).
If our understanding is correct, the east gate lay within the wall of the city and in the inner court of the temple. But the one charged with keeping the east gate also worked to build the walls of Jerusalem. Does the hope of Christ’s return in glory lie within the walls of your experience in God? Do you hear from and obey the Lord? Are you preparing for His return by your efforts to strengthen the walls?
The Gate Miphkad: The Believer’s Hope
After him repaired Malchiah the goldsmith’s son unto the place of the Nethinims, and of the merchants, over against the gate Miphkad, and to the going up of the corner (Neh. 3:31).
The area near the gate Miphkad was repaired by a goldsmith’s son named Makhiah. As we have already observed, the word “Miphkad” means “review,” and it is believed that from the vantage point of this gate, the king would review his troops as they returned from battle.
There is a day of review coming when the King of kings will review His troops. They will be refined “as silver is refined” and tried “as gold is tried” (Zech. 13:9). It is fitting that the son of a goldsmith should be associated with the gate of review. One so associated with the refining of precious metal should well represent to us the refining process of something much more precious than gold: our faith. All who will parade before our royal commander after having victory in battle will be those who have come through the refining fire of trial.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:7).
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hash promised to them that love him (James 1:12).
The believer’s hope is to receive a salute from our Divine Commander on review day. To achieve this we must “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3). The gate of review completed the circuit of worship as an expression of every believer’s hope. Will you find the completion of your life of worship at the gate of review before your King?
Chapter Three Summary
Unity is the strongest force we can collectively bring to the work of God. Unity is not the result of revival, but rather revival is the result of unity. If we strive to have and maintain unity, a move of God is sure to follow.
It is important that we recognize the fallacy of the “one mind” myth. This myth hinders unity because it causes people to think that unity is only possible if everyone thinks alike. Two people seldom see things from the same perspective. Therefore, it is foolish to believe that we will think the same thoughts. True unity means agreeing in purpose and in those things that are essential to God’s work.
The chief enemy of unity in a group of believers is usually pride or some malady related to pride. Those who desire a move of God should respond to a prideful spirit by redoubling their effort in God’s work. The prideful will become isolated by their own attitudes.
It is impossible to have a lasting move of God in your personal life without boundaries. Salvation itself is a line of demarcation delineating faith from unbelief. Without boundaries in your life, worship will be scarcely more than empty formalism that is practiced at the house of God but seldom elsewhere.
No wall is complete without gates, so that desired people and goods might enter, without gates, walls exclude all. Without walls, gates are irrelevant. What needs inside the walls that cannot come through the gates? What needs inside the walls of our salvation that cannot bow a knee and acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ?
The ten gates of worship are:
1. The sheep gate-sacrifice
2. The fish gate-discipleship
3. The old gate-true doctrine
4. The valley gate-humility
5. The dung gate-cleansing
6. The gate of the fountain-Spirit infilling
7. The water gate-the Word of God
8. The horse gate-Christ’s return
9. The east gate-the millennial reign
10, The gate of review-the believer’s hope
Worship is to salvation what gates are to a wall. It is how our relationship with the Lord touches others so that they are drawn to Him.
The above article, “The Power of Unity” was written by Nevin Bass. The article was excerpted from chapter three in Bass’s book Building God’s Wall.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”