Introduction: This chapter provides a detailed overview of the gates and walls that the Jews rebuilt under Nehemiah’s leadership. The building of these walls and gates showed how Nehemiah’s leadership inspired the Jews to act with one accord to rebuild the city walls. For three reasons, the description of these gates should be of interest to every believer today. First, this chapter offers historians some of the most detailed descriptions available of the gates of ancient Jerusalem. The eight gates that exist today are not the same as the original ten gates. Today, the eight gates today are called Herod’s Gate, the Damascus Gate, the New Gate, Jaffa Gate, Zion Gate, the Dung Gate, the Eastern Gate, and the Lions’ Gate. Believers in heaven will see a new Jerusalem with 12 gates, named for the 12 tribes of Israel (Rev. 21:12-14). Second, the gates foreshadowed Jesus, who is the door leading to heaven (Jo. 10:9). Third, for the original ten gates, the number ten in the Bible is associated with the holiness of the Jesus’ Ten Commandments. The ten gates reveal ten holy things that Jesus offers everyone. These include: (1) salvation, (2) love / provision, (3) reconciliation / faithfulness, (4) humility, (5) sanctification, (6) eternal life, (7) purity / cleansing, (8) protection, (9) hope, and (10) taking your judgment.
First, the first gate was the Sheep Gate. It foreshadowed the salvation offered through the blood of the Lamb Jesus. Second, the second gate was Fish Gate. It foreshadowed the love that Jesus had for mankind and His provision for those in need. Third, the third gate was the Ancient Gate. God the Father is the called in the book of Daniel as the “Ancient One.” Jesus is the only mediator between mankind and God the Father. Fourth, the fourth gate was the Valley Gate. It symbolized Jesus’ humility in dying for mankind and the place where we meet Him. Fifth, the fifth gate was Dung Gate. It foreshadowed Jesus’ pruning of the sin in your life to sanctify you. Sixth, the sixth gate was Fountain Gate. It foreshadowed the eternal life that Jesus offers all who believe in Him. Seventh, the seventh gate was the Water Gate. It foreshadowed Jesus the incarnate Word, who offers both purity and cleansing to all who read it and repent of any sins that the Holy Spirit reveals. Eighth, the eighth gate was Horse Gate. It was used by the soldiers on horses. It foreshadowed the protection that Jesus offers all who put their trust in Him. Ninth, the ninth gate was the East Gate. It is the gate that Jesus used when He entered Jerusalem on a donkey. It symbolizes that hope that He offers all who believe in Him. Tenth, the tenth gate was the Inspection Gate. Here, nonbelievers and believers will be inspected to give an account of their lives. The gate foreshadowed the judgment that Jesus took for all who have faith in Him.
The layout of walled portions of modern Jerusalem1
The Gates of Jerusalem each foreshadowed Jesus2
The Sheep Gate. Under Nehemiah’s leadership, the priests built the Sheep Gate, which they used to bring animal sacrifices to the Temple to atone for the people’s sins: “1 Then Eliashib the high priest arose with his brothers the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and installed its doors. They consecrated the wall to the Tower of the Hundred and the Tower of Hananel. 2 And next to him the men of Jericho built, and next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.” (Neh. 3:1-2). The High Priest Eliashib was grandson of Jeshua, the high priest during the building of the Temple (Neh. 12:10). He led the priests in building this gate in the northeast corner of Jerusalem. It is mentioned first because of its important role in reconciling sinners with God. Because of its role in the atonement of sins, it was the only gate that the priests consecrated to make it holy. It was also protected by two towers, the Tower of the Hundred and the Tower of Hananel. This gate was mentioned in the New Testament as the gate close to where Jesus healed the blind man: “Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes.” (Jo. 5:2). This symbolized His divine power.
The Sheep Gate foreshadowed Jesus. The Sheep Gate describes Jesus. He is the Lamb of God, offered for our sins: “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”’ (Jo. 1:29). Like the sheep brought through this gate, Jesus was also led to the slaughter: “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.” (Is. 53:7). He bought you for a heavy price. You can respond by being holy (Ro. 12:1-2).
There is only one path to reconciliation through Jesus. The priests were responsible for this gate because all sacrificial animals passed through it on their way to the slaughter. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. . . I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (Jo. 10:1, 9). Any person seeking to enter into heaven must also go through Jesus to find eternal salvation. This may offend modern notions of political correctness, where all beliefs are considered equal. But God warns: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8). The road to Jesus is narrow. The path to destruction is broad “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14). Are you submitting to Jesus and His narrow path?
Jesus’ gate is open to all. The Sheep Gate was both holy and available to everyone. For example, shepherds also sold their flocks here. The holy path that Jesus offers is also available to all. Faith is all you need to enter through His gate. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16). Are you helping others to find Jesus’ gate?
The Fish Gate. Moving in a counter clockwise direction, the next gate that Nehemiah described was the “Fish Gate”: “3 Now the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and installed its doors with its bolts and bars. 4 Next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz made repairs. And next to him Meshullam the son of Berechiah the son of Meshezabel made repairs. And next to him Zadok the son of Baana also made repairs. 5 Moreover, next to him the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not support the work of their masters.” (Neh. 3:3-5). This gate was located in the northwest corner of the wall, just west of the tower of Hananeel. ‘“The Fish Gate (cf. 12:39) was known in the days of the first temple (Zeph 1:10) as one of Jerusalem’s main entrances (2 Chron 33:14). It may be the same as the Gate of Ephraim [Neh. 8:16; 12:39; 2 Kgs. 14:13], which led out to the main road north from Jerusalem that then descended to the coastal plain through Beth-Horon. The consensus locates it close to the site of the present-day Damascus Gate. It was called the Fish Gate because merchants brought fish from either Tyre or the Sea of Galilee through it to the fish market (13:16).” (Frank Gaebelein, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 694). Nehemiah recorded the faithful acts of the builders and repair persons. These included the sons of Hassenaah, Meremoth, Meshullam, Zadok and the Tekoites (Neh. 3:3-5). Some of these men were trusted servants when Ezra arrived. For example, Meremoth verified and counted the treasure that Ezra brought from Babylon (Ezra 8:33). Another, Malchijah, submitted to Ezra’s purge of mixed unholy marriages (Ezra 10:31). Nehemiah, however, also recorded that “their nobles did not support the work of their masters.” (Neh. 3:5). This meant that they felt prideful, and they felt above the need to help build the walls.
The Fish Gate symbolized Jesus and His love for mankind. In Greek, the word for fish “ἸΧΘΥΣ” or ichthys, spelled out who Jesus was and His love for mankind: (1) Iota (i), Iēsous (Ἰησοῦς), “Jesus”; (2) Chi (ch), Christos (Χριστός), “anointed”; (3) Theta (th), Theou (Θεοῦ), “God”; (4) Upsilon (y), (h)yios (Yἱός), “Son”; (5) Sigma (s), sōtēr (Σωτήρ), “Savior”. Spelled out, it translated as “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” He died on the cross to save all who believe in Him (Jo. 3:16). Out of love for mankind, He called for all to come to Him. He used the parable of a dragnet to convey His attempt to scour the sea looking for people (fish) willing to accept Him: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind;” (Matt. 13:47).
Jesus provides for mankind out of love. Also out of love, Jesus provides for all His people. This is represented through His feeding of the five thousand with five loaves and two fish (Matt. 14:15-21; Mk. 6:34-44; Lk. 9:11-17; Jo. 6:5-13). After His resurrection, Jesus also cooked fish for His disciples to prove that He had risen from the grave (Jo. 21:9-14). If you are in need, turn to Jesus to provide for all your needs.
Jesus wants you to share His love by becoming a fisher of men. To accomplish His goal, Jesus called for His disciples to become “fishers of men”: “And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”’ (Matt. 4:19). The Fish Gate’s place next to the Sheep Gate symbolized what mankind’s response should be after being saved. Any person who appreciates the value of their salvation will desire to share it with others. In Nehemiah’s account, there were many who were willing to help build the Fish Gate. But there were some“nobles” who refused to help in the building process (Neh. 3:5). The same problem exists with Jesus’ Kingdom. “And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”’ (Lk. 10:2; Matt. 9:37). Thus, Jesus urges every believer not to delay in evangelizing others: “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” (Jo. 4:35). Are you a fisher of men and women for Jesus?
Don’t make your witness for Jesus a secret. During times of Roman persecution, the Greek fish ichthys was a secret symbol for Christians to identify each other. One Christian would draw half of the fish in the dirt, and the other Christian would draw the other half to reveal their faith. Today, you don’t need to hide your faith. “nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matt. 5:15). Are you openly sharing your faith with others?
The Ancient Gate. The third gate that Nehemiah described was the Ancient Gate, also called the Jeshanah gate: “6 Now Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Ancient Gate; they laid its beams and installed its doors with its bolts and its bars. 7 Next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, also made repairs for the official seat of the governor of the province beyond the Euphrates River. 8 Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah 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. 9 And next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. 10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah made repairs. 11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of Furnaces. 12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs, he and his daughters.” (Neh. 3:6-12). “The name ‘Jeshanah gate’ is often understood as an abbreviated form of ‘the gate of the old city’ or slightly amended to read ‘the Mishneh Gate,’ opening into the second (misneh) district of Jerusalem on the western hill (2 Kgs. 22:14; Zeph 1:10). It was near the northwest corner of the walled city.” (Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, Vol. 10, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 187). This gate symbolized the eternal God who was faithful and sovereign over all. These verses record common people from all walks who came to serve and build. For example, the name Jedaiah (Neh. 3:10) means “He who calls onto God.” Others were repentant sinners. For example, Ezra confronted Malchijah (Neh. 3:11) for divorcing his Jewish wife to take a pagan wife (Ezra 10:31). They all foreshadowed those who will one day humbly bow before the King of Kings (Ro. 14:11).
Jesus offered the only path to the Ancient of Days. On three occasions, the prophet Daniel referred to God the Father in heaven as the “Ancient of Days”. He revealed how “son of man”, a reference to Jesus, approached Him on the throne: “9 I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were a burning fire. 10 A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; thousands upon thousands were serving Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court convened, and the books were opened.” (Dan. 7:8-10). “13 I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. 14 And to Him was given dominion, Honor, and a kingdom, so that all the peoples, nations, and populations of all languages might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:13-14). “until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.” (Dan. 7:22). Commentator Lucas Hagen explains “Ancient of Days focuses on God’s eternality. The Ancient of Days has been present since before time, is present now, and will be present for time everlasting.” Jesus offers the only path to the Ancient of Days: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim. 2:5). Like the Ancient of Days, Jesus is also eternal and remains the same throughout time: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8). His eternal nature speaks to both His faithfulness: “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” (2 Cor. 1:20). “to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:25). You can trust His promises to you. Thankfully, even when your faith fails you, Jesus remains faithful in His promises to you (2 Tim. 2:13).
Take the path through the ancient gate of Jesus to find eternal rest. The prophet Jeremiah also described the “ancient path” as the path where you will find “rest for your soul”: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.”’’ (Jer. 6:16). Jesus offers you the path where you will find rest for your soul: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:29). As the eternal God and means of your atonement, Jesus comes to offer you eternal rest in Him.
The Valley Gate. The fourth gate that Nehemiah described was the Valley Gate: “13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it and installed its doors with its bolts and its bars, and a thousand cubits of the wall to the Dung Gate.” (Neh. 3:13). This part of the wall was on the west side of Jerusalem. This part of the wall was 1,000 cubits or 1,500 feet in length. The inhabitants of Zanoah did most of the work. They, like many others, repaired walls that were next to or near their homes. Hanun may have been their leader. This gate was called the Valley Gate because it led to a valley with a lower elevation. In contrast, many of the other sides of Jerusalem had hills with higher elevations. It symbolized Jesus’ humility for mankind.
Jesus humbled Himself to die for our sins. The Valley Gate foreshadowed Jesus’ humility. Although Jesus is God, He became a man of no reputation to humbly die on the cross for our sins: “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Phil. 2:6-7). “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9). “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:8). “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2).
You will find Jesus in your humility in the valley of life. Jesus is with you in the valleys: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4). Dr. J. Vernon McGee observed: “The Valley Gate led out of the city of Jerusalem and down into the valley. It is the gate through which many of us are called to go. I think of the valley of the shadow of death, and all of us will have to go down that way sooner or later if the Lord tarries. But there is a very practical lesson for us at this gate if we will listen. I think it is the gate of humility, the gate of humbleness. God must often lead us through that gate even though it is sometimes difficult for us to follow Him there. There are many of us who are fundamental in our faith, but we forget what the Scripture has to say. In Philippians 2:3 it is “lowliness of mind,” and Colossians 3:12 calls it “humbleness of mind.” Humility is something you cannot cultivate. You cannot put it on; it must come from the inside.” (McGee, “The Gospel in the Gates of Jerusalem”).5 You can humble yourself to find Jesus by letting go of the worldly things that you cling to for protection and for your identity: “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:39). “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt. 16:25). “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” (Jo. 12:25). “So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” (Heb. 13:13). Do promises of power, prestige, and wealth hold more appeal than a relationship with Jesus?
The Dung Gate. The fifth gate that Nehemiah described was the Dung Gate: “14 And Malchijah the son of Rechab, the official of the district of Beth-haccherem repaired the Dung Gate. He built it and installed its doors with its bolts and its bars.” (Neh. 3:14). The Dung Gate was used for carting off the city’s refuse to the valley of Hinnom to be burned. It was located at the southern tip of the city near the pool of Siloam. Not much is said about the gate. But keeping the waste out of the city was vital to its health. Malchijah had an interest in helping to repair this gate because it was near his home. He did not want trash to accumulate near his home. Nor should any believer in Jesus.
Jesus purifies His people and removes their impurities. Jesus reveals that He is the vinedresser, and we are the vines (Jo. 15:1). “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. But He answered and said, ‘Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted.’” (Matt. 15:12-13; Jo. 15:2). As the vinedresser, He prunes His believers to produce healthy fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:21-22). He also refines us with fire, in the form of trials and tribulations: “And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.”’ (Zech. 13:9). “For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.” (Ps. 66:10). “so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” (1 Pet. 1:7). Are you submitting to Jesus and allowing Him to prune and refine out the sin in your life?
As the Holy Spirit leads you, keep yourself pure from sin. Jesus also calls upon believers to assist in removing the trash in their own lives: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7:1). “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 Jo. 3:3). “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (Jam. 4:8). “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil,” (Is. 1:16). Dr. J. Vernon McGee observed: “My friend, whether we say anything about it or not, that is the very thing all Christians must face up to in their hearts and lives — that which must be taken out through the Dung Gate.” (McGee, “The Gospel in the Gates of Jerusalem”).7 Are you fulfilling your role in helping to take the trash out of your life on a daily basis?
The Fountain Gate. The sixth gate that Nehemiah described was the Fountain Gate: “15 Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, the official of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He built it, made a roof for it, and installed its doors with its bolts and its bars, and the wall of the Pool of Shelah at the king’s garden as far as the steps that descend from the city of David. 16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, official of half the district of Beth-zur, made repairs as far as a point opposite the tombs of David, and as far as the artificial pool and the house of the mighty men. 17 After him the Levites carried out repairs under Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, the official of half the district of Keilah, carried out repairs for his district. 18 After him their brothers carried out repairs under Bavvai the son of Henadad, official of the other half of the district of Keilah. 19 And next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, the official of Mizpah, repaired another section in front of the ascent of the armory at the Angle. 20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the Angle to the doorway of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 After him Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz repaired another section, from the doorway of Eliashib’s house even as far as the end of his house. 22 And after him the priests, the men of the vicinity, carried out repairs. 23 After them Benjamin and Hasshub carried out repairs in front of their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah, carried out repairs beside his house. 24 After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah as far as the Angle and as far as the corner. 25 Palal the son of Uzai made repairs in front of the Angle and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king, which is by the courtyard of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh made repairs.” (Neh. 3:15-25). This gate was just north of the southern tip of Jerusalem. Shallum was a person who lived near this gate and led these repairs. Like the other gates, people who lived near the gates had a stake in the rebuilding and had an incentive to participate. This was the only gate to have a roof over it, possibly because the gate had an actual fountain with it. In the event of a siege, this fountain was a source of water and life to the city. It also created beauty in the form of the king’s garden and the Pool of Shelah (Neh. 3:15). The second builder Nehemiah (unrelated to the author) repaired the tombs of David. All the prior kings of Judah were buried there unless they died in dishonor or with leprosy (Neh. 3:16). The rest of the builders included people from every class and from the tribes of Levi, Judah, Benjamin, and possibly others (Neh. 3:17-25).
The remains of Nehemiah’s Fountain Gate8
Jesus is the fountain of eternal life. Through Jeremiah, God lamented that His people had rejected His “fountain of living water”: “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jer. 2:13). Jesus later revealed Himself to the woman at the well that He was the fountain of living water: “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’ . . Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”’ (Jo. 4:13-14). During the Feast of Tabernacles, He again revealed Himself to be the living water: “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”’’ (Jo. 7:38-39). If you are feeling sad, defeated, or ill, His living waters can revive you and fill you with the joy of the Spirit.
Be zealous for the water of eternal life. One of the builders named Baruch “zealously repaired another section.” (Neh. 3:20). Jesus remarked that “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matt. 13:44). Like the builder Barauch, are you zealous in your desire to help build Jesus’ Kingdom?
The Water Gate. The seventh gate that Nehemiah described was the Water Gate: “26 Now the temple servants living in Ophel made repairs as far as the front of the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower. 27 After them the Tekoites repaired another section in front of the great projecting tower and as far as the wall of Ophel.” (Neh. 3:26-27). The Water Gate is believed to have been opposite the Gihon spring. In addition to rainwater cisterns, it was a major source of water for Jerusalem. The temple servants made repairs to the walls up to the Water Gate, but not to the gate itself. This was the only gate that did not need repair. The Tekoites are also noteworthy. After they finished repairs to the Fish Gate (Neh. 3:5), they assisted in making repairs to a section of the wall in front of the “great projecting tower” (Neh. 3:27). After seeing nobles who refused to work (Neh. 3:5), they decided to put in extra work out of devotion to God.
The Water Gate9
God’s Word will cleanse you of unrighteousness. Jesus was the Word that became flesh (Jo. 1:14). His Word can cleanse you by allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal your sins: “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (Jo. 15:3) “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” (Jo. 17:17). “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,” (Eph. 5:26). Are you reading the Word and praying for the Holy Spirit to expose your sins? When He exposes your sins, repent of them so that He can cleanse you of unrighteousness: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). Is there any sin in your life that you need to repent of?
God’s Word cannot be altered or changed. Just as the Water Gate was unchanging and in no need of repair, the same is true of God’s Word. Every Word is true and will be fulfilled. “Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” (Josh. 21:45). “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.” (1 Kgs. 8:56). Jesus also came to fulfill every Word that He promised: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matt. 5:17). Thus, you can always trust in Jesus’ Word and His promises. Every Word will come true.
The Horse Gate. The eighth gate that Nehemiah described was the Horse Gate: “28 Above the Horse Gate the priests carried out repairs, each in front of his house. 29 After them Zadok the son of Immer carried out repairs in front of his house.” (Neh. 3:28-29a). The Horse Gate was used to protect Jerusalem. It was in the eastern wall near stables to house the horses. It was large enough for army horses to exit and enter the city to fight off enemy forces, and priests lived near it. Thus, they led the repairs.
The Horse Gate showed God’s protection of His people. God warned the Jews not to trust in their own strength by accumulating too many horses. ‘“Moreover, he [the king] shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.”’ (Dt. 17:16). “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.” (Ps. 20:7). The prophet Jeremiah described the Horse Gate as a place of God’s victory for those who trusted in Him: “And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the LORD; it will not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.” (Jer. 31:40). At this gate, God will fulfill His promise that Jerusalem will one day be forever protected from its enemies: “Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, and strangers will pass through it no more.” (Joel 3:17). “In that day ‘Holiness to the LORD’ shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the LORD’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar.” (Zech. 14:20).
Jesus is the source of your protection. Today, Jesus is the source of your protection when you put your faith in Him: “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Ps. 18:2). “O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, and my refuge in the day of distress, to You the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, ‘Our fathers have inherited nothing but falsehood, futility and things of no profit.”’ (Jer. 16:19). “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Ro. 8:31). If you are in need of protection, put your trust in Jesus as your protector.
The East Gate. The ninth gate that Nehemiah described was the East Gate: “And after him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, carried out repairs. 30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah carried out repairs in front of his own quarters.” (Neh. 3:29b-30). Shemaiah, a priest, led these repairs. Meshullam made repairs to the Fish Gate (Neh. 3:4). He showed his zeal for God by also helping to repair the East Gate (Neh. 3:30). This gate played an important role in Bible prophecy.
Like the rising sun, the Son will return from the east. In a vision, the prophet Ezekiel saw God’s glory leave the first Temple that Solomon built when the Babylonians destroyed it in 586 B.C. His glory departed through the eastern gate of the Temple and then presumably through the East Gate of the city: “When the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from the earth in my sight with the wheels beside them; and they stood still at the entrance of the east gate of the LORD’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.” (Ezek. 10:19). The prophet later saw the glory of the Lord return from the east, presumably through the Eastern Gate: “Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing toward the east; and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory . . . And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east.” (Ezek. 43:1-4). To fulfill this prophecy, Jesus came in a glorious entry through this gate when He entered Jerusalem on a donkey (Matt. 21:1-10). He will also return again like the rising sun though the Temple eastern gate. During the Millennial Reign, the gate will remain shut because the Messiah will remain there: “The LORD said to me, ‘This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.”’ (Ezek. 43:2). Thus, the Eastern Gate of the city and the Temple symbolized the hope of Jesus’ return and deliverance. “who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,” (2 Cor. 1:10).
The enemy cannot prevent the Messiah’s return. The current Eastern Gate shares the same name as the original gate. It is the oldest original gate. But it was built long after Jesus in the 6th or 7th century AD. Sometime between 1540 and 1541 AD, a sultan of the Ottoman Empire named “Suleiman the Magnificent” ordered the gate shut. By tradition, he sought to quash the hope of Jesus’ return through this gate. For the past 500 years, the Eastern Gate has remained sealed. It is next to the Temple Mount and remains under Muslim control. Yet, in 1969, archaeologist James Fleming found the original gate underground. The enemies of the Gospel cannot prevent the prophecy of Jesus’ return by keeping this gate closed. Jesus entered Jerusalem through the original East Gate. The prophecy of His second coming relates to the Temple east gate (Ezek. 44:1). Thus, there is nothing that the enemy can do to prevent God’s Word from coming true.
The modern Eastern Gate of Jerusalem12
The Inspection Gate. The tenth gate that Nehemiah described was the Inspection Gate: “31 After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, carried out repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, in front of the Inspection Gate and as far as the upper room of the corner. 32 And between the upper room of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants carried out repairs.” (Neh. 3:31-32). The Inspection Gate is also sometimes translated as the “gate Miphkad”, “Muster Gate” or the “Watch Gate.” Some believe that it was the “designated point for assembly and review, perhaps for the temple or palace guard.” (Joseph Blenkinsopp, Ezra-Nehemiah, OTL, Philadelphia: Westminster, 1988, p. 239). Or, the people or men may have been mustered for conscription at this gate. When strangers came to Jerusalem, they would also come to this gate and register themselves to have permission to enter the city. This gate foreshadowed the judgment of many who will be denied entry into the new Jerusalem in heaven. It also foreshadows the place where all believers in Jesus will be inspected and give an account of their lives.
All will be inspected for their right to enter into heaven. This gate of inspection foreshadowed where all will be asked to give an account of their lives. “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Ro. 14:12). “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” (Matt. 12:36). “but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Pet. 4:5). For those who never knew Jesus, they will be judged according to the law written on their hearts: “in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,” (Ro. 2:15). Yet, this is not a place that a person wants to be in “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Ro. 3:23; Ecc. 7:20).
Believers will also give an account of their lives. For believers, the soldiers in Jesus’ army, they will also be inspected to give an account for what they have done with their lives with Jesus’ talents: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10). Even though salvation is not tied to your works, every believer should feel motivated to serve out of faith. Every good work will be recorded, remembered, and celebrated before the judgment seat of Christ. Here, Jesus will say: ‘“Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”’ (Matt. 25:21).
Everything returns to the foot of the cross. The last verse returns to the “Sheep Gate.” (Neh. 3:32). All will bow their knees and profess the Lamb of God as Lord: “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” (Phil. 2:10). Dr. J. Vernon McGee observed: “We have been around the walls of Jerusalem and have come once more to the Sheep Gate. We started there and we end there because, my friend, everything in the life of a Christian is done in the light of the cross of Christ.” (McGee, “The Gospel in the Gates of Jerusalem”).13 Like the returning soldiers who gave praise to their King David at this gate, we will give all the praise to the King of Kings for our undeserved right to enter the New Jerusalem: “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14).
The body of Christ will also be united for the wedding with the Lamb. The assembled troops also foreshadow the assembled Church. The Church will finally be united as one. And it will be married to the Lamb, Jesus Christ: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” (Rev. 19:7). “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” (Eph. 5:23). The assembled Church will then enter and joyfully praise the Lamb of God forever in heaven.