Summary: The names of the gates of the old city of Jerusalem have rich spiritual meaning, full of powerful truths that will take us 3 sermons to cover. Parts 1 & 2 are here. Link inc. to formatted text, audio/video, PowerPoint.
Swing Wide the Gates
The walls of Jerusalem stood for something. They were more than just protection. They stood for the glory of God. Unbelievers of that day looked at the broken down walls and would mock believers. The ruins of the walls became a reproach upon the name of God. But God raised up Nehemiah to do something about it.
In chapter 3 the actual construction begins. Thru delegation Nehemiah practiced superior organization. The workers were an example of splendid cooperation. Everyone got involved and did their part. Now here's the spiritual application...we'll call it Spiritual Illumination.
The wall had 12 gates which were spaced around the city. 10 of them are mentioned in our text. And their names have deep spiritual meaning. We won't overly spiritualize here other than to look at the literal truths that pop right off the page, placed there by God I believe.
1. The sheep gate.
v. 1 Thru this gate they would bring the sacrificial animals to be laid on the altar in the temple. The priests would use this gate. It was the only gate that was 'sanctified.'
This gate reminds us of Jesus, the Lamb of God. It all begins and ends with Christ, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world Who will bear His scars for eternity future in heaven.
Jesus was a special Lamb. Without flaw or blemish. We serve a sinless Savior.
Jesus was a silent Lamb. Is. 53 says he would open not His mouth in self defense.
Matthew 27:12-14 [Pilate]
12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
Luke 23:9-10 [Herod]
9 Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.
10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.
Why did it have to be this way? Any of us would have presented our defense. Especially since they had it all wrong. Jesus remained silent in order to FULLY bear our shame. Jesus not only took the punishment of our sins, but also the shame and reproach that goes with them. If Jesus had defended Himself, His defense would have been so potent no one could have stood against it. And even if they had then killed Him out of hatred, He wouldn't have suffered the shame and guilt as if He were guilty. Was there guilt in Him? Yes. Ours! Even though He was sinless, He was willing to be counted as a sinner before man so that we could be counted as righteous before God.
No wonder that old rugged cross is the emblem of suffering and shame! He suffered our shame in silence.
ill.--a Christian man who worked in a slaughterhouse told of his experiences as the one who had to put a bullet into the head of the cattle as they came to his station. He said they came to him so noisily, mooing, snorting, and loudly complaining about their captivity, and he never had a problem w/ his job of silencing those brute, noisy beasts. Then one day they brought in a truckload of lambs and asked him to slaughter them. He said they brought him the first one who stood there and looked at him with big eyes. He was instructed to slit the throats of these lambs rather than shoot them. It felt different than before, but reluctantly he reached down and slit its throat, and it just looked at him as it began to bleed to death. It laid its head on his arm and began to lick the blood off of it. He said, "I was done. I laid down my knife and never went back." He said it reminded him so eerily of that verse which said of Jesus, "He stood silent before His accusers."
It's no accident that Jesus is compared to a lamb. They did not drag Him to the cross, kicking and screaming, He willingly laid down His life.
A special lamb, a silent lamb...
Jesus was a slain Lamb.
ill.--a single man took in an orphan boy and sought to adopt him. One night the house caught fire and the boy was caught upstairs. The man escaped outside, but heard the boys cries from above. With no regard for himself, he climbed a burning hot downspout and rescued him. The result was that his hands were badly burned. The adoption process continued, but the state took him to court stating that as a single man he couldn't win their approval, and that a couple should be found for the adoption. DCFS made their arguments against him, and he just silently listened. Now it was his turn to speak. They asked him why he thought he should retain custody. He said not a word, but just simply raised his hands for all to see. Quiet gasps were heard from many, and the man sat down. The judge awarded him the child.