Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gates (Sharim)

Most cities in the ancient world were surrounded by walls. The only way in or out of a city was through its gates. The large doors in the gates were locked at night and at times of war for protection. Towers were on each side with watchmen on duty day and night.

The city gate was a very busy place. Markets sold their goods there, news was heard and talked about and prophets and priests made announcements there. It was the center for administration, courts were held and disputes settled. Princes and judges sat at the gates performing their official duties. The word gate became known as power and authority. To be within the gates meant that a person was under authority of the elders of the city who presided in the gates. There are many places in the Bible that speak of gates. Gen 19:1 Lot sat at the gate of Sodom, Ruth 4:1 Boaz sat at the gate, Deut.22:15 & Joshua 20:4 mention elders who judged at the gates of cities in Israel.

God desired righteous judgement at the gates, but that wasn't always the case. Ps 24:7 says Lift up your heads, O you gates. And be lifted up, you everlasting doors. And the King of Glory shall come in, the psalmist is referring to the necessity for righteous judgment in the gates. Zech. 8:16 also says These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor, give judgment in your gates for truth, justice and peace.. Proverbs 8:3 cries out at the gates of the city, and Proverbs 31:23 says a virtuous woman's husband is known in the gates.

Jesus is the Gate. Ps 118:19-20 Open to me the gates of righteousness, I will go through them, and I will praise the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord, through which the righteous shall enter. Matthew 7:13 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Jesus is the narrow Gate, the Gate of the Lord which the righteous enter. He is the "gate of heaven" that Jacob saw at Bethel, Gen 28:17. John 1:51 says You shall see heaven opening and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. He became the true Gate of Heaven as He identified Himself as the Mediator between God and man, the only way to have access to the Father.

The Gates of Old Jerusalem

There are eight gates surrounding the city of Jerusalem, The Damascus Gate, is flanked by two towers and crowned by a decorative motif. The old road that led north to Damascus began at this gate. Herod's Gate or Flowers Gate is the ancient Roman entrance to the city. On July 15, 1099 Crusaders breached the wall at this gate and took the city of Jerusalem, proclaiming the Latin Kingdom. The Lion's Gate also called St. Stephen's Gate (because he may have been stoned there) has a beautiful carving of two pairs of lions. This gate opens towards the Mt. of Olives. The Dung Gate, named for its location near a rubbish dump just outside the city walls, leads directly to the area of the Western Wall today. The Zion Gate built by Suleman the Magnificent in 1541 is pockmarked with bullet holes from 1948 and the battle for the Jewish Quarter. Jaffa Gate is the origin of the old road leading west to Jaffa. It retains the ancient L shaped interior, a defensive method of slowing the advance of armies through the gate. The New Gate, opened in 1889 linked the properties near the wall in the northeast of the city with the Old City. The Golden Gate also known as the Eastern Gate, Gate of Mercy, and the Beautiful Gate is the oldest and most famous gate of the city. This is the gate that Jesus passed through on His way to the Temple. It was sealed by the Muslims in 1541 in order to prevent the Messiah's entrance. Jewish tradition teaches that the Messiah will come through the Golden Gate. He did, and He will again.

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