The Nugget has received requests from subscribers to run a series focusing on gates in the Bible. The Bible is full of references to gates, many of which were in relation to the gates of ancient Jerusalem. This ongoing series, "The Gates of Jerusalem", looks at what these gates can teach us today. Many thanks to Nugget author and Answers2Prayer volunteer, Sue Ramsey, for supplying the research that this series is based upon. For previous lessons on "The Gates of Jerusalem", please see:
The Gates of Jerusalem, Part 2
The Rebuilding of Jerusalem
In "The Gates of Jerusalem, Part 1" we discovered that gates, being an intricate part of the defense systems of ancient cities, held such significance to the old world that Jesus, in reference to His gift of Salvation, calls Himself the "small gate", the ONLY way to enter into the Kingdom of God. Those who try to earn their salvation by anything that they "do", are considered to be "thieves" and "robbers", because they are taking the glory of Jesus' precious gift on the cross and putting it upon themselves!
Because the old city of Jerusalem has had numerous gates over the two thousand or so years of Bible history, and because its individual gates have been known by a variety of names, it is difficult to know where to begin a study on Jerusalem's gates. In an account of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, Nehemiah 3 gives us the best summary of Jerusalem's gates to be found in the Bible, and the remaining lessons in this study will be based upon this list.
To get started, let's take a short trip back into history, back to circa 587 BC :
"Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He SET FIRE TO THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, BROKE DOWN THE WALLS AROUND JERUSALEM. Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had gone over to the king of Babylon."
(2 Kings 25:8-12 NIV)
And so it was. The holy city was destroyed and the Jews were taken into captivity. For 70 long years they remained in Babylon, and in 538 BC , when they were finally allowed to return, their first task was to rebuilt the temple. The city walls, however, continued to lie in ruin for the next 72 years , and without the protection of the walls and their gates, the people were vulnerable to attack.
This is the background behind the story of Nehemiah, the man responsible for rebuilding Jerusalem's walls and gates. Nehemiah was a Jew, probably from the tribe of Levi . He was in the service of king Artaxerxes when he got the following report from Jerusalem:
"Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire."
(Neh 1:3 NIV). Nehemiah immediately ". . . Sat down and wept." (Neh. 1:4a). In his own words he says:
"For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven." (Neh 1:4b-5 NIV) It was laid heavily upon his heart to rebuild his beloved city, and when the opportunity arose, he made his desire known to the king:
"If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it." (Neh 2:3-5 NIV)
With the king's permission and support, this is exactly what Nehemiah did. His task wasn't easy however, for there continued to be many who didn't want to see the city rebuilt. In fact, opposition was so heavy that Nehemiah's men were forced to work with one hand on their swords:
"From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked." (Neh 4:16-18 NIV). But in the end, the walls WERE rebuilt, and the gates WERE hung, and this in a remarkable 52 day! (See Neh. 6:15)
Friends, the lesson to be learned from the rebuilder of Jerusalem's walls and gates is just this: God laid something upon his heart, and he acted upon it! If Nehemiah had ignored God's urging, the walls would have never been rebuilt. If he had allowed himself to become discouraged with the enormity of the task or with the dangers and the opposition at hand, the walls would have remained in ruins. But he didn't. Nehemiah kept his eyes fixed upon God, and the walls were rebuilt!
The writer of Hebrews admonishes us to do the same thing: ". . . Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith . . ." (Heb 12:1-2 NIV) `
Enough to ponder, but do ponder this: Has God laid something on your heart? If He has, then act on it! Follow Nehemiah's example! Fast and pray until God opens the doors, and when He does, move on in! Don't become discouraged; don't look at the impossibility of the task. Instead, trust in the One who is in charge, and you WILL SUCCEED!
God bless each of you abundantly!
Sue Ramsey & Lyn Chaffart
Volunteers, Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org
 Adam Clark's Commentary on Nehemiah 1. See also Nehemiah 1  Barns' Notes on Ezra 1. See also Ezra 1.  Adam Clark's Commentary on Ezra 1. See also Nehemiah 1.  Barns Notes on 2 Kings 25:8. See also 2 Kings 25.