Summary: The fourth of a series of messages on the ten gates of Nehemiah- spiritualized to represent the progress of every believer
The Gates of Nehemiah: The Valley Gate
Introduction: Tonight we are looking at the fourth message in our ten week study. The next gate in the ten gates of Nehemiah that represent our spiritual progress as a Christian is the valley gate. Last week we studied the meaning of “the Old Gate,” that is we have left the old life and the old lifestyle behind. Matthew was once an accountant, Peter and his brother were once fishermen, Luke was once a doctor, Simon was once a political activist, and yet these men unlike the rich young ruler put aside their former life and became disciples of Jesus. I am not saying you must quit your job and leave your family and fly to a foreign land and preach the gospel. My point is that once we pass through the old gate, it represents what we read in 2 Cor. 5:17 “... the old has gone, the new is here!” Baptism represents the same thing. The old is washed away in the blood of Jesus and the new creation of Jesus is at work in the heart of the believer.
When we as Christians understand the old gate, we understand what it means to crucify the flesh “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20. In three gospels it is written “And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23. Romans 6:6 says it more plainly “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;” and Galatians 5:24 drives the point home “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Even though we live in the flesh we are commanded not to live after the flesh. Did you know that if you do not accept the death of the flesh, you are an idolater, that means you practice idolatry, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” -Colosians 3:5 This is a scary thing, especially in light of 1 Cor. 6:9 which lists idolaters along with homosexuals, thieves, and drunkards as those who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.
But the good shepherd if we follow him, will lead us to green pastures. Which brings us to the next gate of our spiritual progress:
The Valley Gate
“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land--a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills;” - Deuteronomy 8:7
The Valley Gate represents the Christian who can now wander with God according to the will of God. Genesis 26:19 says “Isaac's servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there.” As the purpose of digging was to find water, and the spiritual lesson that we learn from the valley gate is that as we dig deeper into spiritual things and not just what is on the surface of the ground we will find holy and beautiful spiritual gifts of God. You have to dig deep to get the water and if you want the sweet things that God offers you must dig deep as well. He said “if you seek you will find.” I John 5:14 says “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” The water is in the valley and the deeper we dig for God to quench our spiritual thirst, the more we understand his will, the more we pray in accordance to it and he not only hears it but will give us what we ask for.
The rocky soil seed never went deep into the earth and as a result it died when it was put to the test of the heat of the day. Just like many shallow Christians today they will wilt when the heat of tribulation is surging against them, when their shallow faith is being burned by persecution they will quickly fade away, because their faith never went past the surface. They never went any further than the sheep gate. They say a prayer and at the time they meant it, and they think they know him ‘well enough’ and move on with their life as they did before. That would be like someone asking me if I know so and so and I said yes, I know them well, we are very good friends, when in reality I just met them once and that was a long time ago and haven’t ever seen them since. If you know Jesus, you speak to him often-that is, you pray often.