Summary: Illustrated sermon, drama appended to sermon. A message about the need to remove garbage and how ancient Jerusalem had people for that task. It is a nasty dirty job, that Jesus did for us. Message and drama were very well received.
The Dung Gate
PPT 1 series slide
PPT 2, 3 Scripture Text
Ne 2:9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king's letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
Ne 2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.
Ne 2:11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days
Ne 2:12 I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.
Ne 2:13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire.
Ne 2:14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through;
Ne 2:15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate.
Jerusalem had a number of gates in and out of the city. This message is about one in particular, "The Dung Gate." In order to understand this message you need to mentally take yourself back in time 2500 years and think about how life was different then.
So we will begin with a little history lesson on sewage, or in this case dung removal.
In ancient Israel there was no sewer system, as we understand it. In fact in ancient Rome there was a law that if you threw excrement out of your house and it landed on someone you had to pay a fine, but only during daylight hours, at night since they had no lighting they didn't consider it a crime if you hit someone. There was some sewage systems in larger cities, but only the richest of people would have had access to it, no one know how well they worked at getting rid of human waste. For the most part they were storm drains. In our modern systems we have pumping stations, a constant flow of water etc. Back then, they had no such things and so their sewer systems were primitive and often had to employ people to clean out blockages. Very few homes would have been near the sewer system, there were no toilets at best the few that access had an open hole that led to the sewer.
The earliest recorded sanitary laws concerning disposal of human waste is attributed to Moses in the Old Testament. Around 1500 B.C, he gave a law that instructed the people to dispose of their waste away from the camp, and to use a spade to turn the remains under the earth or sand. Think 2 million people and no toilets. Whenever you saw a guy carrying a shovel you knew what was going on. The next time you use your bathroom, you need to thank God you are not living back then. Ancient cities were no different, in fact they had to hire people to collect and carry human waste out of the city. How would you like that job? Do you know that in some ways that is the job Jesus has? He has to take our waste (sin) away. That thought is what has given birth to this message. It is my hope that if nothing else you come away with an appreciation for all that Jesus does for us.
Today I want to use this passage in Nehemiah as a launching point to talk about two simple truths.
The purpose of the Dung Gate, and the Porter of the Dung Gate.
In the first section I will talk about the purpose of the Dung Gate and the fact that it opened into the Valley of Hinnom.
The second point that I want to make is about the One Who takes out the trash, and we will have a special drama to present during that portion of the message.
1. The Purpose of the Dung Gate
It was important for health, and it was instructive for holiness.
Important for health.
Our bodies are continually being poisoned, and God in His wisdom provided numerous ways to get rid of the toxins we are daily bombarded with. Killer T-cells to attack foreign invaders, a liver for toxins in our food, kidneys for toxins in our blood, tear ducts to wash dirt from our eyes, a bladder and colon to remove waste products, lungs to get rid of carbon dioxide, throats to hurl what our stomachs don't like.