Women of Promise
Repairing the Gates Study
(Revised Version of “Repairing Your Gates” by Nancy Campbell. www.aboverubies.com )
In the book of Nehemiah we find the Israelites scattered throughout Asia Minor. Babylon is in control of Jerusalem and the once magnificent city lies in ruins.
Nehemiah, who was cupbearer to the King of Babylon, hears about the terrible state of the city walls and asked for permission to go and organize the people to rebuilt. The King grants his request.
In this book we find the twelve gates into Jerusalem in terrible repair. So, Nehemiah calls the people to fix them. These twelve gates also have a spiritual allegory for our own lives. Their uses and purpose show twelve “openings” into our hearts that should always be in good repair.
In this study, the purpose is to turn our attention back to our gates, ensuring that they are in proper working order. We must do this continually through out our lives so that we might be a place that Christ dwells, rather than a once magnificent city- lying in ruins.
The first gate is named the “Sheep Gate”. When Jerusalem was a bustling city, it was the place that the shepherds took their sheep out and brought them in.
For us, this gate reminds us about Christ, the Shepherd, and of Christ, the sacrificial lamb. How are we doing in relation to Jesus? Is your relationship with him in good repair? Have to talked to him lately? Have you truly accepted his blood as your covering? Is he still your one and only?
The gate is first because without this gate being in good repair, the others don’t even matter. Jesus has to have the ability to get into your life. The gate for him to walk through has to be working.
As a Woman of Promise, this is a big deal. The promises that we claim are of no value if we are not maintaining this gate. If your “Sheep Gate” or, rather, the Gate for your Shepherd, is not in working order- now is the time to change that.
Jesus wants to be near you. It’s not enough to just say a little prayer as a child- he wants everything. He wants the ability to walk right into your heart and if this gate is lying in ruins then he can’t.
Oh, Jesus, remind us again of your gift of salvation. Your redemption through the shedding of your blood. Help us keep this gate into our heart repaired so that when the hour comes of your return- we will not be left behind.
The second gate is named the “Fish Gate”. This led to where the fish market was located, outside the city.
In scripture there are several references to being “fishers of men”. This, of course, refers to evangelism. This gate is essential to the Christian life. If you’re living fully, you will be sharing Jesus.
How are you doing in this area? Are you continually speaking truth? Are you watching for opportunities to tell your friends and acquaintances about the hope you have in Christ?
If not, then you might need to repair this gate. Start with prayer. Ask God to give you an unquenchable joy in your salvation. Ask him to open your eyes to the hurting around you. Then ask him for boldness to proclaim that he is the way, the truth and the life.
This, after all, is what being women of promise is about. Growing so close to Jesus that he spills out of us onto those surrounding us.
Jesus, help us live lives that reflect you and your kingdom. Teach us to be true fishermen- pulling in a net so full that we cannot even handle it ourselves!
The third gate is called “The Old Gate”. It’s also been translated, “The Corner Gate”. For us this stands for Jesus, the chief cornerstone.
In building it is important to have what is called the “cornerstone”. This is the base on which the whole house is built. If you use a faulty cornerstone, then the house will not be stable. The cornerstone is given great “honor” as it sets the strength of the house.
It is the same in our lives. Jesus should be our cornerstone. If our life is built on him, it will have strength. If we give other things “honor” ahead of him, then we will fail.
This gate is also called “the old gate”. Have you ever felt like your parent’s way of thinking is “old-fashioned” or “out-of-date”? You might need to look at those feeling and judge them by the word of God.
In the Old Testament it says, “Ask for the ancient paths….” It tells us to walk according to the “old way”. Man is continually coming up with new ideas, new ways to excuse living in sin instead of submitting to the Lord. This isn’t good!
Following Jesus might seem like the “old” way of doing things. Some may think it’s an out-of-date idea that one must submit one’s life to Christ. But it’s the right way. His truth is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago.
Is your belief in the relevance of Jesus today, in good repair? Are you following the “old way” faithfully?
Father, we know that your truth is just as important today as it was when you came to earth. Help us keep this “gate” in our lives open that we might be built upon you.
The fourth gate is called the “Valley Gate”. This stands, for us, as humility; or, choosing the lowly way. Pride is one of Satan’s most useful tools against mankind.
As we build ourselves up in our mind with thoughts like, “Well, I would never… She’s not nearly as pretty as me…. I think that he’s wrong…My parent’s don’t understand…” we are giving Satan a foothold in our spiritual lives. In every place we are putting “me” above others. Not a good thing!
If we are submitting to Christ, he will give a proper perspective of ourselves. This doesn’t mean false humility. False humility is thinking less of yourself that you ought. Also not a good thing! We need to think of ourselves through the eyes of Jesus. We are dirty. Our righteousness like filthy rags. But he made us clean! We are whole, breathtakingly beautiful –but only in him.
Is your view of yourself in good repair? Are you constantly submitting your pride to God’s control?
Jesus, give us your eyes to see ourselves. Give us confidence as your children while helping us keep a right perspective of our own sinfulness.. Don’t allow Satan to tumble this gate. Help us keep the humble way in working order. Seeing as you see.
The fifth gate is the “Dung Gate”. Yes, you heard right. Dung. Manure. Filth. Stink. Garbage. The place where all the nasty, smelly, icky things are taken out of the city.
In our lives this gate is immensely important. If this gate isn’t working then our lives will be piling up with gross smelly sin.
We can accept Jesus and still fill our lives full of sin. He doesn’t want this. We surely don’t want to be covered in dung. Therefore, we must take time on a daily basis to clean out our hearts.
When we take time to “clean out the city” there are several key “spots” we should make sure are scrubbed clean by the Holy Spirit.
The first is casting out the bondwoman. Remember the story of Sarah and Hagar? Sarah was the wife, the one used by God to fulfill his promises. Hagar was the slave, the one that wanted the honored place but didn’t have it. There are times that we live like we are just slaves. We can’t ever seem to escape our sin-filled lives. But we’re not slaves! We have freedom in Jesus. We are children of the promise!
Are there places in your life that you are living like a slave? Dependant on sin, thinking it will bring you joy instead of Jesus? Any addictions? Maybe it’s something big… it’s easy in this day and age to get caught in the deep things like drugs and illicit sex. Or, it may be something we think of as “little” like perhaps attention from guys or questionable novels. But these are just as binding, just as deadly, the fruits of a slave-woman, not someone living in freedom! Cast them away! Take the slave-woman, the bondwoman, and fling her out the dung gate! She doesn’t belong in your heart! You are a child of the Creator, a woman of promise!
Another “spot”… those awful planks that alter our vision. In the New Testament Jesus tells us to not worry about the speck in our brother’s eye, as first we must take care of the planks in our own. It is so easy to see other’s faults. We see with crystal clarity the tiny piece of dust that clings to our friends and can’t managed to see that we’re covered with dirt and grime. We need to take care of our own faults. Before you go seeking faults in other people, look carefully at yourself. Do you need to carry some planks out the dung gate?
Then there are the works of darkness. Are there things in your life that you are keeping hidden? Darkness breeds death. Romans 13:12 says, “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Do you have any wrong attitudes? Perhaps toward your parents or a friend? Are you letting bitterness grow in your heart about something that was done to you in the past? Cast these things away. Throw them out the dung gate- they belong in the pile of garbage, not in the heart of a Woman of promise!
How about any stumbling blocks? If you look carefully at your life, using Christ as your guide, perhaps you can find some stumbling blocks that are causing you to fall into the pattern of sin. Maybe there are certain outfits that you wear to bring attention from guys. Maybe there is too much time spent talking to your friends and not enough time with your parents or some other godly influence. Maybe there is too much time spent reading “fun” novels and not enough spent in the word of God. Throw away the clothes. Go spend time with a Christian adult. Throw away the novel and read the Bible. Take those stumbling blocks and remove them, firmly, from your life.
What about any mocking spirit? There are times when, unnoticed by us, Satan takes residence in our lives through a mocking spirit. When we mock or scorn things (perhaps our parents and their rules or other forms of leadership, maybe friends or relatives…) we open the door to all kinds of sin! Proverbs 22:10 says, “Drive out the mocker and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.” That’s quite a list of sins that are gone simply by driving out a mocking spirit! Do you find other people foolish or boring? Especially your parents? Perhaps we should all look into our hearts and ask the Lord to show us specifically if we are harboring a mocking spirit.
Are you entertaining any strange gods? Isaiah 31:7 says, “For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.” We’ve all created idols out of our own hands. Anything that takes away from God- is an idol. It could be a friend. It could be a guy. It could be a project. It could be a dream. Anything that takes away from God- is an idol. We all make them, therefore, we all need to be continually cleaning them out of our hearts.
Throw out transgressions. In Ezekiel 18:31 we’re told, “Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel?” You might change that to, Why will you die, O woman of promise? God is offering us a new heart and a new spirit! Don’t allow your dung gate to get broken down. Otherwise your life will fill with dung. Filth. Garbage. You’ll be a slave with a planks of faults, deeds of darkness, stumbling blocks, a mocking spirit (and all that comes with that), strange gods and a life full of transgressions. That’s not what God wants for you!
In the Old Testament we get a peak at the Kings of Israel. As each King is listed, the Bible says either, “He did right in the eyes of the Lord” or “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord”. However, there are some that it says, “He did right in the eyes of the Lord…but he did not remove the high places…” Don’t let this be said of you! Be the one who “destroys the high places” like King Josiah. The Bible says, “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did- with all his heart and all his soul and with all his strength.” (2 Kings 23:25)
Make sure you check with yourself often. Is your garbage gate in good repair? Are you continually cleaning out all the stinky sinful things in your life?
Jesus, how we long for this gate to stay in good repair! We don’t want lives filled with garbage. We want lives filled with the fruits of your spirit. Fix this gate, Lord, clean us up.