The repairing of the gates and walls surrounding old Jerusalem was critical to the safety of the city. So everybody pitched in. They repaired their own section first, then helped their neighbors complete their sections. As a result, the wall and it’s gates were completed in a record 52 days.
I was intrigued that each of the gates not only has historical and prophetic significance, but altogether they parallel our journey to salvation and living the Christian life. The complexity of it all isn’t surprising considering that our God is a God of order and depth beyond our understanding. So I started digging to learn more.
Knowing that Scripture must interpret itself, here’s what I found…
The third chapter of Nehemiah begins and ends with the Sheep Gate (Nehemiah 3: 1, 32) through which the sheep were brought for sacrifice. You’ve probably caught the significance already. Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega, through whom all things were brought into existence is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins. His death on the cross was the turning point in human history; and believing that He died for our sins is the turning point in our spiritual lives. So sheep are a symbol of sacrifice.
Going counter-clockwise around the wall, the Fish Gate was for the fisherman from Galilee to enter into the city to sell their fish. Centuries later when Jesus multiplied two fish to feed thousands, Christians used the fish symbol to identify those of like faith. The Greek acronym for “fish” was also the acronym for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. So the Fish Gate represents sharing the fish or evangelism. As followers of Christ, we are called to sacrifice our will for His will and to be “fishers of men.”
The Old Gate may have been one of the original gates. It represents the old ways–the ancient ways–of truth as opposed to new ways. I’ve heard it said, “If something is new, it’s not true; and if it is true, then it’s not new.” Truth never changes–not even with the New Age Movement. The Lord calls us back to, “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).
The Valley Gate represents humility. The suffering and pain, trials and tribulations of our lives remind us there is no place for pride in our lives. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Valley experiences help clear away the garbage in our lives and bring forth opportunities for great personal and spiritual growth.
The Dung Gate was the exit for all the rubbish, refuse, and rot. Once we are aware of the rot and corruption in our own lives, we sense a need to be cleansed of its filthiness. Confession is our Dung Gate. “When we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness,”
The Fountain Gate is located at the end of the Pool of Siloam. It’s streams of living water describe the work of the Holy Spirit who cleanses us of the dung in our lives and empowers us to live the life Christ wants us to live. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me…streams of living water will flow from within him,” (John 7:38).
The Water Gate, the only gate that didn’t need repair, led down to the Gihon Spring where Ezra read God’s Word to the people. Water refers to God’s Word, and God’s Word is truth–the same yesterday, today, and forever. It doesn’t need repair either. The streams of living water by way of the Holy Spirit make God’s Word come alive for us, in us, and through us so we are truly washed in the water of His Word.
The Horse Gate follows the Water Gate because wherever God’s Word is read, spoken, or discussed spiritual warfare is sure to follow. The King’s men left for battle through the Horse Gate located close to the soldiers’ barracks. In Scripture, the horse symbolizes battle or warfare and reminds us that we too are on a battlefield swirling with spiritual warfare.
The East Gate faces the Mount of Olives and speaks of a future time when Jesus will return and stand on the Mount of Olives. He will then enter the city of Jerusalem through the East Gate. Jesus told His disciples, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near,” (Luke 21:28). So the East Gate assures us that Jesus is coming again. Till then we wait expectantly for His return.
The Inspection Gate is also called the Mustering Gate. This is where King David met his troops for inspection or to see if they passed muster. It reminds us that we too must pass muster. We will be held accountable for our lives and face a final inspection.
“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him,” (Hebrews 9:27-28).
As we wait in eager expectation for His second coming, let’s repair and restore the gates of our own spiritual lives then lend a hand to help others.