Nehemiah. Part 10. A tour of the walls of Jerusalem with Nehemiah.
Grace Bible Church The Tree of Life A Weekly Review Week ending 021912 Nehemiah. Part 10. A tour of the walls of Jerusalem with Nehemiah.
We have been noting the first group of the vessels of mercy, the Jews led by Nehemiah and his desire for Jewish restoration. We will also note the second group of the vessels of mercy who are called from among the Gentiles and led by their apostle, the apostle Paul.
The beginning of repairing the walls and rebuilding the gates is found in NEH 3:1-8, Then Eliashib the high priest arose with his brothers the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They consecrated the wall to the Tower of the Hundred and the Tower of Hananel. And next to him the men of Jericho built, and next to them Zac-cur the son of Imri built. Now the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. And next to them Me-re-moth the son of Uriah the son of Hak-koz made repairs. And next to him Me-shul-lam the son of Berechiah the son of Meshezabel made repairs. And next to him Zadok the son of Baana also made repairs. Moreover, next to him the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not support the work of their masters. And Joiada the son of Paseah and Me-shul-lam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors, with its bolts and its bars. Next to them Me-la-tiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Me-ron-thite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, also made repairs for the official seat of the governor of the province beyond the River. Next to him Uzziel the son of Har-ha-iah of the goldsmiths made repairs. And next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.
We have already noted that many of the books written on the book of Nehemiah sadly omit chapter three as if there is not much to offer the believer in the Old Testament, as well as the Church. And we disproved and discredited this as we began an introduction to Nehemiah chapter 3 to note some important principles of doctrine. Once again, we will become fascinated as we make this tour of the walls of Jerusalem with Nehemiah. As we examine the massive stones of the walls, they begin to speak. They have a message for us because you and I are building spiritual walls with the same principles of gates and having the same message.
1PE 2:5, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Today God has given us a subcontract that you and I might build these walls of Jerusalem in our own hearts and lives.
So notice in NEH 3:1again as we read, Then Eliashib the high priest arose with his brothers the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors.
First of all is the Sheep Gate. This is the gate through which the sheep were brought into the city to be used at the altar. This foreshadows the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. We enter the Sheep Gate first when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. So we start at the Sheep Gate. The Sheep Gate speaks of Christ our sacrifice. As you might expect from JOH 1:29-36.
JOH 1:29, The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
The Lamb as the sacrifice goes all the way back to Abel’s offering in GEN 4:4; where the Lord had respect for Abel’s offering but not for Cain’s. Abel’s offering represented that which God provided, the bloody lamb. Cain’s offering represented that which man provides which is human good. It also goes all the way back to Isaac’s substitute when Abraham took his son Isaac on the mountain in Gen 22 to offer him.
And in GEN 22:8, And Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
God will provide, and this is because the entire Trinity was involved in the sacrifice of the lamb or the sheep. For example, the Father sent the Son, JOH 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” The Son executed the plan JOH 10:17-18, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” The Holy Spirit empowered the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ in HEB 9:14, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
So the Sheep Gate is a Gate that needs to be repaired at times in our life. We repair or have the Sheep Gate in our lives restored when we remember Him, and learn of Him as we are commissioned to in PHI 3:10, that I may come to know Him, and the power of [behind] His resurrection and the participation of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
NEH 3:1, the high priest Eliashib with his brothers the priests and built the Sheep Gate;
The spiritual meaning of the Sheep Gate is that the high priest was building it and that through the Sheep Gate lambs and sheep were brought to the temple, in which they were offered. And so the interesting spiritual analogy is that Jesus Christ is called our High Priest, not Eliashib but the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Lamb, who was offered for the sake of our sins.
HEB 2:17, Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
HEB 5:1, For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;
Also the building of the wall and gates begins from the Sheep Gate in Nehemiah 3, because everything begins from the offering of the Lamb (Jesus Christ). It is also very significant that Eliashib means in the Hebrew, God will restore. We rebuild and restore or strengthen this gate in our life when we preach about the Lord Jesus Christ! The Sheep Gate is also always the starting place for strength in our life which is why it is the first Gate mentioned. It is the beginning of rebound and recovery and being filled with the Spirit, and therefore the beginning of divine reparation. The point is that we are to examine the Sheep Gate in our life and repair it if necessary. The priests (verse 1) and the merchants (verse 2) may not be equally talented in the art of building, but in the name of God they helped in the work.
Priests do not typically work with stones and hammers. However, this was not a typical situation, and they gladly set an example for the rest of the people. Anyone who was willing to do any type of labor toward rebuilding the wall was encouraged and allowed to do so. Some of the people did not necessarily know how to do the work, but they were willing to learn. It’s also interesting that the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem was near the temple where the sacrificial animals were brought in to be offered on the altar and therefore it is in keeping with this principle that the priests should build this particular gate. Because it speaks of Christ and His work upon the Cross for us which is exactly what the prophet had in mind when he said “like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth” (ISA 53:7). Christ not only came in through that gate, but also when He was arrested and was led out to be crucified, they took Him out through that gate. The Sheep Gate was the place of judgment, and it tells us that He bore the judgment of our sin. It is at this gate that we must begin with God. He is not prepared to meet us anywhere but at the Cross. It is of interest to note that “next unto him the men of Jericho built” (NEH 3:2), Jericho was the city of the curse, and the men of Jericho were building right next to the Sheep Gate. That is not by accident, for Christ bore on the Cross for you and me the awful curse of sin.
GAL 3:13, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us‑‑ for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.”
Freedom from the curse of sin awaits us at the foot of the Cross. So, the very first gate mentioned is the Sheep Gate. It was called the Sheep Gate because this was the gate which the sheep and lambs used in the sacrifices were bought through. This speaks of the very first experience we come into in our Christian life - that is, a realization that Jesus was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.
The Sheep Gate speaks to us of the cross and the sacrifice that was made for our sins. It is the starting point of everything but you will also notice if you read the entire chapter that the Sheep Gate is also mentioned at the very end once we have come full circle to our study. Everything starts and ends with our Lord’s death on the Cross.
The Sheep gate also speaks of the very first real experience we come into in our Christian life - which is a realization that Jesus was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. So the Sheep Gate was not only the starting point, but it was also the ending point of the wall! It speaks to us of the Cross and the sacrifice that was made for our sins!
Jesus entered into Jerusalem, He always came through the Sheep Gate with one exception ‑ when He entered from the east gate. By entering through the Sheep Gate, Jesus was saying, Behold, I am the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. What does this mean to us? Well, passages like JOH 10:9 make more sense where our Lord said I am the door (gate). If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
And we are also told that as a part of the fascinating history of the Sheep gate, that historians agree that in that the shepherds would also rest their sheep inside the Sheep Gate. And when the shepherd's were ready to go on their way they would actually stand outside of the temple and give their unique call and their sheep. And only their sheep would hear the voice of the shepherd and would come to him.
JOH 10:3, “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.
JOH 10:4, “When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
JOH 10:7-8, Jesus therefore said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.”
Next we have the “Fish Gate” in NEH 3:3, Now the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. The Fish Gate speaks of evangelism. First, we have the sacrifice of the Lamb, then we have evangelism, proclamation of the gospel. Notice in verse 3, the fish gate was finished with locks and bars. The gospel of the grace of God is not only to be zealously preached but also zealously defended against those who preach error. We also see this in this gate, the fish gate, that fish were brought into the city from the Mediterranean Sea and from the river Jordan. It reminds us of the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 4:18-20.
MAT 4:18, And walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And they immediately left the nets, and followed Him.
The Lord did not tell His disciples that they should become fishers of men but that He would make them such if they followed Him. To be a soul winner, we must follow the Lord’s example. He went to where the people were. By a well, in houses, by the sea side, the market, etc. How sad to learn that this Fish Gate needed to be repaired and so too in many places the gospel is in ruins through decades of neglect, self-righteousness and legalism. In verse 5 we read that in connection with regarding this gate there were those who were too proud to stoop down to work hard.
NEH 3:5, Moreover, next to him the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not support the work of their masters.
Sometimes it happens that the believers who are the best fed are the poorest workers. They would prefer endless Bible study minus the application of the Word of God.
JAM 2:17-18, Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
The fish gate was finished with locks and bars. The gospel of the grace of God is not only to be zealously preached but zealously defended against those who preach error. In MAT 4:19 and MAR 1:17 Jesus said, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. It was called the fish gate because the fisherman of Galilee would bring their catch in through this gate to be sold. You will recall that the first thing the Lord did with those whom He saved was to send them out immediately to witness for Him.
At the time of Nehemiah’s record, the Fish Gate was in disrepair. Like so many Christians who, day by day, month by month, year by year, make no attempt to win anyone to Christ. Though this is true, still I am encouraged. Lately I have seen more people turn to Christ because many people are in need and searching for answers as well as in mental, emotional and financial need. There are many Christians who are fishing; sometimes they do not catch anything, but that’s not the issue.
PRO 11:30, The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls.
DAN 12:3, And those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
There is one thing for sure: You will never catch a fish until you try. He is calling us to be fishers of men. Today is the hour of the layman, it is the hour of the average believer, because all around you today there are hearts that are hungry. The child of God has a marvelous opportunity to fish. Your spiritual gift is not an issue in witnessing; for it is the responsibility of every believer.
This is why we read in ACT 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and in Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
The Church-age believer has two areas of responsibility in witnessing for Christ.
2CO 3:2-3, You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.
So the first area of responsibility is the witness of your life.
The second area is the witness of the lips. Witnessing is the royal family communicating the Gospel to an unbeliever on a personal basis. The issue of the Fish Gate in the Old Testament is the same as the New Testament.
JOH 16:7-10, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”
We communicate the Gospel in our own way. We do not have to beg people to believe in Christ. The Holy Spirit acts as a human spirit so that the unbeliever can comprehend the Gospel issue, 1CO 2:14.
1CO 2:14, But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
The Bible information that is communicated is your weapon. Common grace is the Holy Spirit's ministry in making the Gospel real to the unbeliever. Common grace is taught in TIT 2:11-12, For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
It is also taught in 2CO 6:1-2, And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain‑‑for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you”; Behold, Now is the acceptable time,” Behold, Now is the day of salvation.
So, it is the Holy Spirit's ministry in making the Gospel real to the unbeliever. And that’s because mankind is born spiritually dead, ROM 5:12ff.
The characteristics of spiritual death include:
1) Total depravity--man's affinity toward moral or immoral degeneration.
2) Total separation from God.
3) Total helplessness to establish a relationship with God.
4) We are born as a dichotomous being, having a body and soul but no human spirit.
So, spiritual death occurs at the moment of physical birth, when Adam's original sin is imputed to the genetically formed old sin nature. At the new birth, or regeneration, we become trichotomous, having a body, soul, and human spirit.
Because all mankind is in the status of spiritual death from birth, the work of salvation is strictly the work of God, EPH 2:8-9. And the information that we communicate from the Bible is the weapon that the Holy Spirit uses to invite people to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many false issues related to the Gospel that are against the ministry of God the Holy Spirit as the sovereign executive in witnessing.
Sin is not an issue in salvation, COL 2:14; Christ is the issue.
In evangelism or witnessing, Do not argue; do not beg or persuade anyone to believe. Let the unbeliever make a decision without coercion. And ladies, don't promise them a date!
Avoid false issues such as salvation by works, observing taboos, or any other legalistic standards. Nothing is accomplished toward salvation by persuading the unbeliever he must give up his sins, change his behavior pattern, join a church, or be baptized. You don't try to force a decision for Christ. This is the job of the Holy Spirit.
Avoid gimmicks, emotional begging, public invitations, and remember to respect the person’s free will.
Whether or not the Bible is actually the Word of God is not the issue.
Be flexible when witnessing, don’t limit yourself to one method or system. You cannot superimpose your volition on others.
Works are not to be the issue because anything added to faith is dead works, and dead works have no part in salvation, ROM 3:20-28; GAL 2:16.
1CO 15:3-4, For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
So let’s note some pitfalls in witnessing.
1) Avoid argumentation. You are to give information, not argue over its validity.
2) Don’t be sidetracked by false issues such as what about the people who have never heard?
3) Deal with the individual alone wherever possible. Witnessing in front of others creates false issues by producing embarrassment, loss of prestige, or harassment.
4) Avoid getting in a rut by always using the same approach. Flexibility comes with maturity.
5) Avoid the false concept of having to witness to a certain number of people each day, or that an evangelist must have a large audience. Witnessing is not spirituality. A high IQ is not necessary to witness to those with a high IQ.
6) Motivation must come from Bible doctrine in the soul, not spiritual bullying, human pressure, or approbation lust.
7) Avoid bragging about your experiences in witnessing.
8) Don’t judge other believers for their apparent failure to witness. Apply the privacy of the priesthood.
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