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Nehemiah 3:13






Sunday Morning Sermon

Fair Avenue Baptist Church

June 7, 1998






Ezra and Nehemiah are unusual books in the Bible.  The rebuilding of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem is taking place and we read of all the battles and obstacles in their way.


Here in Nehemiah Chapter 3 we find that the wall and gates around Jerusalem are being rebuilt.  And as I was reading this passage several weeks ago I made a notation in my Bible notebook.  We read VERSE 13 a few moments ago, but I want us to look through the chapter for a minute or so.





This is the gate where all the animals for sacrifice came through.  At the sheep gate is where it all began.  This is the gate where the Lord Jesus Christ entered into Jerusalem.


Remember John 1:29, “...Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”


The sheep gate symbolizes the cross of Christ.  This is where you begin with God.  The cross is the only place you can begin with God.





It was this gate where the fish were brought in from the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.  The fish gate symbolizes fishers of men.  “...Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)





The old gate is exactly what we think it is - it is the gate that was there from the very beginning.


Jeremiah 6:16, “Thus saith the LORD.  Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls...”


We are too busy searching for new things.  We are too busy trying to do new things.  Yet the Bible says, “ask for the old paths...and ye shall find rest for your souls...”


The Bible doesn’t need to be rewritten, it needs to be reread.





The valley gate was the one that led out of the city of Jerusalem down into the valley.  Some have said that this represents the gate of humility or the gate of humbleness.  God sometimes has to lead us through trials and difficulties in order to teach us some lessons.





The fountain was a spring rising from the ground.  The fountains were a source of fresh water.


Remember when Jesus said, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)





The water gate was the gate used to bring water into the city.  An aqueduct brought some water into the city but not all of it.  The remainder was carried in through the water gate.


What does the water gate have to say to us?  I believe it symbolizes the Word of God.


When we get a little further along in this Book, we will see that it was here that Ezra put up a pulpit.  When Ezra erected a pulpit at the water gate, he read from the Word.  The place he chose was symbolic; it was no accident.


The New Testament makes this clear when it speaks of the washing of water by the Word.  “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” (John 15:3)


The water gate could symbolize the Word of God.  We are washed by the water of the Word.  It is through this gate that we are trying to spread the Word.  We all need to be water boys, helping to bring water to those who are thirsty.





The horse gate is exactly what we think it is - a gate for horses and donkeys.  The horse gate speaks of the “soldier service” of the Christian today.


Men only rode horses during a time of war.  The horse was a symbol of war.  “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good solider of Jesus Christ.” (II Tim. 2:3)





This is the gate that should fill us with excitement.  It was the first one opened in the morning because it was facing the direction of the rising sun.


One of these days the Lord Jesus Christ will go through the Eastern Gate and into the Temple.  We could spend a lot of time here but that is another message.





The word “miphkad” mans “review” or “registry.”  When a stranger came to Jerusalem, he had to have a visa, not like those we have today, but he had to stop at this gate and register.


Have you registered in heaven?  Is your name written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life?  When the Lord returns one day, will your name be found?


This is another one we could spend some time on and maybe we will one day.



I purposely left off the dung gate from VERSE 14.





The dung gate is exactly what we think it is.  It is were the manure and garbage was taken out of the city.  This verse could speak volumes to us.


The dung gate was where the filth was carried out, where the garbage was taken away.


II Cor. 7:1, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”


The Apostle Paul dealt with this subject in the Christian life as much as any other.  You and I need to recognize that we need to confess our sins to God.  Honest confession is the means by which we get out the garbage.


“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)



But that is not my message this morning.


As we read this chapter we find that all the gates needed to be rebuilt.  The wall needed to be rebuilt all around the city and be joined with the gates.


And we read where different tribes, different groups of people rebuilt the gates.  I’m not sure how the gates were assigned or if it were voluntary.


But think about it with me for just a few minutes:


“Hey, George, we’ve got the sheep gate, let’s get with it.  Time’s a wasting.” 


“Okay, I’m ready.”



“Hey, Bill, we’ve got the fish gate, be sure and bring all the tools.” 





“Hey, Mike, we’ve got the old gate.  It is going to be a real job, but I’m excited.  It’s a real antique.  Kinda of like old Oscar.”


“Be right there, let me get a few more things together.”



“Hey, John, we’ve got the valley gate.  It’s going to take some work since it leads into the valley.” 


“I’m with ya.”



“Hey, James, our group has the fountain gate.  At least we’ll have some cool water close by.  While those other guys are sweating, we’ll be right there in the cool, spring water.” 


“OK, I’m rounding up a few more guys.”



“Hey, Jim, get the guys together and head over to the water gate.  We’re going to need all the help we can get.”


“Sure thing, I’m just waiting on Roscoe.”



“OK, Ralph, the horse gate is ours.  I’ve got some good ideas of fixin’ it up real good.  I like horses, don’t you?”


“We’re coming right behind you.”



“The East Gate.  What a privilege.  One of the most important gates in the city.  Bobby, did you get everything ready?  Are you sure?”


“Sure, did, boss, I’m excited.”



“The Gate Miphkad.  The gate of register.  Jerry, we’ve got a good job ahead of us.  The elders will be proud of us.”


“We’re ready if you’re ready.”



“Richard!  Richard?  Hey, they gave us the, uh, the dung gate.”

“What?  The dung gate.  Are you kidding?  I sorta wanted the horse gate.  Oh, Ralph and his buddies got that one.  What did you do to make them mad at you.  The dung gate.  Oh, brother.”


Can you see that happening?


I just don’t see a whole of people volunteering to head over to the dung gate.


“What, the dung gate?  I don’t believe it.  I mean, the east gate is more my speed.  I ain’t going to do it.  Let someone else do the dung gate.  Give me something more important.”


I mean, when people take out the trash and other sort of “stuff,” they aren’t always too careful and tidy.  It was probably stinky over near the dung gate.


Let’s be serious here, it was the manure gate.


But the truth is that it was just as important as any of the other nine gates.


This was the gate that kept the city clean.  It was important.




I started thinking and wondering what job around the church we consider the dung gate.


We must think that cleaning a restroom is like the dung gate because no one ever joyfully volunteers to clean the commodes.  And most of those who volunteer don’t show up to do it.


We must think that sweeping a floor or vacuuming is like the dung gate because it is really hard to get people to do those jobs.


We must think that cleaning out the baptistery is the dung gate because no one ever volunteers for that job except Ashlie Martin.


How about mowing the church lawn and back field?  Not a lot of volunteers there either.  The back field gets two feet high and no one says a word.  It must be the dung gate.


Keeping the Nursery once or twice a month must be like the dung gate to some.  No one in my eleven, almost twelve years, has ever said, “Preacher, my name in not on the nursery list, would you please see that my name is put on there.”


How about taking the trash out to the curb for pickup twice a week?  Not a lot of takers for that job.  I guess most of our men think of that as the dung gate.  They’re too important to take out the trash to the curb.


Checking a restroom to make sure the commodes have been flushed and the toilet paper and paper towels are filled must feel like a dung gate because it seldom gets done.


I guess painting the inside and outside of the church is like the dung gate because no one has ever come to this preacher and said, “Preacher, I’m ready to paint whenever something needs painting.  Just give me some paint and a brush and point me in the right direction”


Somehow we have put certain positions in the church above other ones.


Cleaning a restroom - dung gate, not important


Teaching a Sunday School class - EASTERN GATE, important, that’s the one I want


Mowing around the church - dung gate, not important


Trustee - HORSE GATE, important big shot


Vacuuming a room - dung gate, not necessary


Financial Secretary - FOUNTAIN GATE, position


Keeping the nursery - dung gate, “Well, Preacher, years ago we didn’t have a nursery.”


Mission Secretary - WATER GATE, oh, yea, now I’ll know where all that mission money is going.


Painting around the church - dung gate, let someone else take the time, my time is too important


Deacon - OLD GATE, now you’re talking


Treasurer - GATE MIPHKAD, the gate of registry, that’s the one I want


So, we have deteriorated into putting positions in the church into our own little individual categories of importance when the truth is that they are all important to the over mission of the church.


And while I’m on it, some people have even put Thursday Night Churchwide Soul Winning Visitation on the dung list because you never show up.


But you’ll show up for a business meeting and stay for three hours until almost midnight.


Something’s wrong with our thinking.  And speaking of the dung gate, it appears that we got some “Stinkin’ Thinkin’ going on.


We will never be the church God wants us to be until we get over this stigma of the dung gate.


Each gate was important to the city, and each gate is important in the church.

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