Summary: #3 in the Nehemiah Series. The rebuilding of the gates of the city of Jerusalem carry a great symbolism in the path that we must take back to God.
The Book of Nehemiah Series #3
THE JERUSALEM GATES # 1
The Gates of Spiritual Progression - Part 1
By Pastor Jim May
Nehemiah Chapter three concerns itself with the rebuilding of the walls and specifically the ten gates that separated each section of Jerusalem. What also stands out is the people that God has recorded as doing the work.
So what can we take from a chapter such as this? Well, quite a lot actually. If we look at these gates, their positions in the wall of the city, the order in which they were rebuilt and the purpose of each gate, I believe that each of the gates speak of different experiences in our Christian walk that each of us will face.
Their order and position is very specific and give us insight into the journey that God takes each of His children on.
The First Gate to be rebuilt was the Sheep Gate
Nehemiah 3:1, "Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded 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."
Nehemiah 3:32, "And between the going up of the corner unto the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants."
The very first gate mentioned is the Sheep Gate. It was called the Sheep Gate because this was the gate which the sheep and lambs that were to be used in temple sacrifices were bought through.
On the day of his crucifixion Jesus carried his cross out of the city, passing through the Sheep Gate. Just as many thousands of sheep had passed through this gate, the Lamb of God passed also.
Those sheep that were brought through this gate to be offered had to examined thoroughly for any blemishes or defects before they could ever enter the city. Only those who appeared perfect could be considered as worthy of offering to God on the Brazen Altar.
Once they were into the city and presented at the temple, they were examined even more closely insure that nothing would disqualify them for use as a sacrificial lamb. The Law of Moses, as given to him by God, stated that only a perfect lamb would be acceptable by God as an offering for the sin of Israel..
The Sheep Gate is a symbol of the very first experience we encouter in our Christian life. It is not through our own righteousness and our own blood, but by the perfect, precious Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, that we are made righteous.
Not one of us could qualify to enter into the New Jerusalem without his sacrifice. But because Jesus was accepted, the “Sheep Gate” of that New Jerusalem is open for all who will enter by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for their sin.
The Sheep Gate represents, in symbolism, the cross and the sacrifice that was made for our sins. That’s where our Salvation begins. The first step in having any relationship with God is by coming through the Blood of the Perfect Lamb.
John saw that Perfect Lamb in Revelation 13:8, "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."slain from the foundation of the world.
The Sheep Gate then was the starting point of Nehemiah’s reconstruction project in rebuilding of the city just as it is the starting point of rebuilding our lives and our relationship with God.
If you were to read through the entire 3rd chapter of Nehemiah, you will find that the Sheep Gate is also mentioned at the very end of the construction process, once the work on the walls of the city have come full circle.
This is because everything starts and ends with Jesus’ death on the cross. The Cross of Christ is the central point of human history and the center point of eternal life. All of God’s plans for your life and for mine are hinged upon our passage through the Sheep Gate and the acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
The work next began on the Fish Gate
Nehemiah 3:3, "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."
To the north of the city of the city of Jerusalem lay the Sea of Galilee. There are a number of smaller lakes and fishing grounds on the northern side of Jerusalem but very few on to the south.
This gate was called the Fish Gate because the fisherman coming from the Sea of Galilee would bring their catch in through this gate to be sold in the city market.