“Possessing the Gates of Our Enemies” – Part 2
Restoring the Gates of the Church
Sadly, as in days of old, the enemy has infiltrated the gates of the Church! This is deeply worrying and so we must set out to repair these immediately. The Prophet Isaiah mirrors this truth when he writes: “Go through, go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway! Take out the stones, left up a banner for the peoples.” (Isaiah 62:10) In the book of Nehemiah, we have a record of the gates of Jerusalem that had to be restored by the returning exiles before they could branch out and take the gates of their enemies. It is this holy work that we must urgently give ourselves over to, lest the enemy continue to impede the advancement of God’s people.
In Nehemiah chapter three, we have a record of the gates which need repair. These apply spiritually to the Church of Jesus Christ today. We should therefore note the following:
1. The Sheep Gate – Nehemiah 3, v. 1
The people of God need to be cared for and loved, and this is the calling that God places over the leaders of local churches. This must be real and engaging and not just through meeting structures. Paul was very clear about this when He called the Ephesian elders together (Acts 20:17-28).
2. The Fish Gate – v. 3
Paramount to the life and existence of the Church is the proclamation of the Gospel. This proclamation must be true and bold. When Jesus called His disciples, He told them that they will become fishers of men (Mark 1:17), and of course He re-emphasized this when He gave the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16).
3. The Old Gate – v. 6
We must embrace “the new” that God is doing but never forget the old and tried ways of God. We are not better than previous generations and we have yet in this generation to witness a revival like that of the Wesley brothers, even though our resources and opportunities are greater. The Bible clearly warns about moving the ancient landmarks (Proverbs 22:28). So much of modern Christianity is weak and superficial because it has abandoned its fathers. This is especially true of those churches that have abandoned Israel.
4. The Valley Gate – v. 13
The Church must be separate from the world, yet sadly today there is not much difference. Our way of living is entirely different to that of the world (Acts 17:6), but in this regard the enemy has greatly infiltrated the Church. We must be in the world but not of it. Of course, this is not a popular message, but it needs to be heard and especially so because the Book of Revelation calls upon us to forsake the world system and come out of it (Revelation 18:4). James and John have very strong words to say about this matter (James 4:4-6; 1 John 2:15-17).
5. The Refuse Gate – v. 14
The people of God must grow into the likeness of Christ. Therefore, the filth (refuse) in their lives must be diminishing as they embrace the call of God over their lives and walk with Christ. Our election in Jesus, as Paul puts it, must culminate in our glorification and total transformation (Romans 8:29-30). Again, the devil has ravaged the Church in this area and so consequently preaching on holiness is regarded as negative and unedifying. The truth is, God only uses and walks among a holy people and this gate must be urgently repaired (2 Corinthians 6:15-18).
6. The Fountain Gate – v. 15
We desperately need a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the people of God. This, again, is one area of biblical truth over which the powers of darkness have thrown a smokescreen, in order to prevent the Church from rising up and taking the gates of its enemies. The early Church could not go forth to take the Gates of Hell until it was filled with the Spirit and then, once placed under the fountain of God, it was unstoppable (Luke 24:46-49). The 1906 Azusa Street outpouring of the Holy Spirit actually impacted the whole world. The Wesley brothers and their associates prayed for days on end in a building on Fetter Lane in London until one day, while so doing, the power of God by the Holy Spirit fell on them, and they went out to shake the world and take the gates of their enemies.
7. The Water Gate – v. 26
Without water we cannot live, and so it is that without the flow of the Word of God we cannot live. Jesus underlined this when He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Again, like never before, we are witnessing an assault against the Bible in and outside of the Church. Its inspiration and authority are being attacked and even well-known preachers are discrediting the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament upon which the early Church was entirely built. Topical preaching is the order of the day and expository teaching is almost wholly neglected. The result is “truth has fallen in the streets” and the people of God are generally illiterate (Isaiah 59:14). How shall we ever take the gates of our enemies if we do not know the will of God as it is expressed through His word?
8. The Horse Gate – v. 28
The horse is an animal of war. When Jesus comes again to defend Israel (Zechariah 12:8) and wage war against His enemies, He will do so on a horse (Revelation 19:11). We are called to wage war by means of intercession and the proclamation of God’s word (Ephesians 6:10-20). This is the time for the Church to go to war and thus to tear down the Gates of Hell. This war is in the nations, in order to complete the Great Commission, and in Israel, to stand with her and pray for her as Daniel did. Paul states that we have very powerful spiritual weapons, for the left and right hands, and we must urgently learn to use them (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). The ICEJ’s frequent global prayer gatherings are certainly a welcome manifestation of this battle.
9. The East Gate – v. 29
The “blessed hope” that we have is the Second Coming of Jesus (Titus 2:11-14). This is a constant reminder that as we wage war and tear down the Gates of Hell, we will conquer in the end because our great Savior will come again and, as it were, “finish the job.” He Himself said that His coming will be like lightning that flashes from the east to the west and thus we must have within our hearts the joy of looking for His soon return (Matthew 24:27). The certainty of victory embodied in His triumphant Second Coming enables us to hold the line in the battle and not give up.
10. The Inspection Gate – v. 31
There will come a day when we shall all be gathered by Christ’s coming to the glorious and perfect Kingdom of God. On that day we shall enter the Inspection Gate, where our service to God while on earth will be evaluated or inspected and we shall be rewarded accordingly (1 Corinthians 3:11-17). We will then finally enter the Gates of the New Jerusalem and subsequently we will be invited to ascend Christ’s throne. From there, and serving with Him as vice regents, we shall have dominion and authority over the created order of things (Revelation 2:26-29; Revelation 3:21-22). How astonishing, because we are just sinners saved by grace but given the privilege of taking down the Gates of Hell!
Dear friends, the time has come for us to believe and take hold of what Jesus said to His disciples. Let us restore the gates of authority in the Church and let us go forward to believe that God will from amongst us raise up men and women who will occupy crucial places of influence in the world, so that the message of the Church may prosper, and Israel may be blessed and enter the Age of Redemption. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
By: Malcolm Hedding, ICEJ Board Member and International Spokesman
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