Gates in the Bible: Gates of Jerusalem, Part 5: The Old Gate -- By Sue Ramsey and Lyn Chaffart

In last week's lesson on the gates of Jerusalem, we saw that the second gate mentioned, the Fish Gate, speaks to us evangelism. The reason the Fish Gate is mentioned after the Sheep Gate is that the first thing God wants us to do once we've accepted His gift of salvation is to tell others about the Good News of Salvation! Today's lesson takes us to the Old Gate.

"Moreover Jehoiada 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 bars. NKJV"
(Neh 3:6 NIV)

The third gate mentioned in Nehemiah's account was known as the "Old Gate", or the "Jeshanah" gate, as translated in some Bibles. Commentaries are not in agreement as to why this gate is referred to as the "Old Gate". One theory states that this is the "gate of the old town", explaining this by calling Bezetha, a suburb or village in front of the gate, the "new town" [1]. Another theory states that it is called the Old Gate because it belonged to the ancient city of Salem that was first built by Melchizedek [2].

There is also some question as to where this gate actually stood. It is said to be: "Either the modern Damascus gate, the main entrance to the city on the north side; or a gate a little further eastward." [3]

But despite the lack of agreement between scholars, the Old Gate still speaks two important messages to us today.

First of all, the Old Gate speaks to us of the "old ways of truth". After experiencing the Sheep Gate and becoming a Christian, and then beginning to share our faith with others, thus passing through the Fish Gate, we often begin to go through trials and we find that our newly-found faith is being tested. When this happens, it is time to enter through the Old Gate to learn the ways of truth that never change.

This returning to the "old ways" is an ancient truth, an admonition given in the early days of Bible history. As early as the book of Deuteronomy, Israel was admonished to: "Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past." (Deut 32:7 NIV). When the people refused to do so, God turned against them. The prophet Jeremiah admonished them: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ASK FOR THE ANCIENT PATHS, ask where the GOOD WAY IS, and WALK IN IT, and you will find rest for your souls." (Jeremiah 6:16, NIV). And when "His people recalled the DAYS OF OLD, the days of Moses and his people . . ." (Isa 63:11 NIV), they remembered how God's hand was mighty and powerful to save. They turned back to Him and He saved them.

Friends, when our faith is tested, when circumstances crowd around us that seem too big to overcome, when it seems that the problems are even too big for God, we are told to enter through the "Old Gate". "Remember the DAYS OF OLD"! Enter into God's Word! Look back and remember God's hand in history! We can be encouraged that the God who parted the Red Sea is big enough to bring us through whatever circumstances we face!

But this isn't always easy, is it? And herein lies the second important lesson to be learned from the Old Gate.

The Old Gate was rebuilt by Jehoida the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah. If you look a few verses earlier in the chapter, you will notice that the Sheep Gate was rebuilt by priests and the Fish Gate by brothers. In fact, most of the gates were rebuilt by people who were related in some way, but we are not told of any particular relationship between Jehoiada and Meshullam.

Why is this significant? Because so many things in life cannot be done by ourselves! It's too easy to become discouraged! Is it any wonder that the church is told fourteen times in the New Testament alone to "Encourage one another daily" (Heb. 3:13)? When God gives us tasks or allows us to go through circumstances that are too big for one person, we can rest assured that we don't have to do it alone! Besides having God by our side, we also have the body of Christ to encourage us!

Enough to ponder, friends, but do ponder this: When discouragement sets in, when the task before you seems too big, remember the Old Gate! Remember to look back in the days of old, and be encouraged that this same God is with you today. But don't try to go through it alone. Remember to reach out to your brothers and sisters in Christ for strength to carry on!

Join us next week to take a look at what the Valley Gate has to teach us.

God bless each of you abundantly.

Sue Ramsey & Lyn Chaffart

Volunteers, Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org

[1] (from Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. on Neh. 3:6)

[2] (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., on Neh. 3:6)

[3] (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft, on Neh. 3:6)

(To access the entire "Gates in the Bible" mini-series, please click here.)