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. The ongoing series, "The Gates of Jerusalem", is based on this important, fascinating subject. Many thanks to Nugget author, 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 6
The Valley Gate
In last week's lesson on the gates of Jerusalem, we saw that when we are faced with trials and temptations and discouragement begins to set in, we need to walk through the third gate of Jerusalem, the Old Gate. We need to remember God's faithfulness in the past, and know that this same faithfulness will carry us through today. But we don't have to walk the path alone! We can turn to your brothers and sisters in Christ to help us carry on! Today's lesson takes us to the next gate mentioned in the series: The Valley Gate.
"The Valley Gate was repaired by Hanun and the residents of Zanoah. They rebuilt it and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. They also repaired five hundred yards of the wall as far as the Dung Gate." (Neh 3:13 NIV)
According to commentaries, the Valley Gate lay in the west, in the neighbourhood of the present Jaffa gate. The gate and the piece of wall were constructed by Hanum, who is believed to be the chief or ruler of Zanoah, and its inhabitants.  Zanoah, now known as "Zanna" is on the west side of Jerusalem, at a distance of about 10 kilometers. 
Interestingly, there is an extensive, though not specified, length of wall between the Valley Gate and the previous gate, the Old Gate. We can assume this by the fact that Nehemiah 3 records eight separate sections of the wall being completed before coming to the Valley Gate. As well, after this gate was a piece of wall approximately 500 meters before the next gate (See Nehemiah 3:7-12)
What does this "Valley Gate" and the lengthy pieces of wall leading up to and away from it mean to us today?
Two things, actually. The word "Valley" is used symbolically in the Bible as a place of sorrow, of trials, of humbling experiences:
"Even though I walk through the VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH . . ." (Ps 23:4 NIV).
No one ever said that the road walked by a Christian is an easy one: "In this world you will have trouble." (John 16:33a NIV). This must not discourage us however, for Jesus goes on to say:
"But take heart! I have overcome the world." (Luke 3:5b)
Even in the natural realm, nothing grows on high mountaintops. It is in the valleys that we see vegetation. It is no different in the Spiritual realm. Our Spiritual growth occurs when we are walking through the "valleys", the trials and tribulations that will come to every Christian. Remember that we are admonished MANY TIMES to be thankful for our trials:
"Not only so, but we also REJOICE IN OUR SUFFERINGS . . ." (Rom. 5:3).
". . . Because we know that suffering produces PRESEVERANCE, perseverance, CHARACTER; and character, HOPE." (Rom 5:4).
Friends, we may not enjoy walking in the valley, but it is a necessary part of our Spiritual growth!
The second lesson we can learn comes from the lengthy sections of walls between the Valley Gate and the Old Gate. When a new Christian comes to the Lord, He often allows a "honeymoon" type period free of major trials, where God can teach us personally, and where His presence becomes strong in our lives. As indicated by the sections of walls before and after the Valley Gate, this "honeymoon" period can go on for quite awhile, and its purpose is to strengthen us in the Lord for our "Valley" experiences.
It's important for every Christian to know that hard times WILL come; but not until God Himself has conditioned us to be able to stand up to them! Remember His promise: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear . . . He will also PROVIDE a WAY OUT so that you can STAND UP UNDER IT." (1 Cor 10:13 NIV)
This "way" He provides is the opportunities He gives us to walk with Him, to learn to trust Him in everything. If we don't take advantage of these lengthy wall sections by working on establishing a strong relationship with Him, then when the Valley Gate actually arrives, we will not be able to stand up!
Friends, if you are right now at the Valley Gate, reach out to God. He will help you through. But if you find yourself, instead, on the wall leading up to the Valley Gate, then take advantage of the time. Work on your relationship with Him. Learn to trust Him, learn what it means to lean explicitly upon Him. If you do, you will have the "way out" at your disposal when you arrive at the Valley Gate!
Enough to ponder, friends, but do ponder this: Trials and tribulations will come in every Christian's walk, yet we will never be tried beyond what we can bear with God at our side. God gives us the time we need to learn to trust Him and lean explicitly on Him so that we can stand up to those "valley" experiences. It is our responsibility to take advantage of these times by walking with God everyday, by working on our relationship with Him and learning to trust Him. If we do, that "valley" experience will be manageable!
Join us next week to take a look at what the Dung Gate has to teach us.
God bless each of you abundantly.
Sue Ramsey & Lyn Chaffart Volunteers, Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org
 from Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. - on Nehemiah 3:13.
 from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft - on Nehemiah 3:13.