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Ironside's Notes on Selected Books Ironside's Notes
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Nehemiah 3". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ isn/ nehemiah-3.html. 1914.
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Nehemiah 3". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/
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The Gates Of Jerusalem
The work at once began, and it is to be noted what a thoroughly individual thing it was. Nehemiah is the servant used to stir up the rest; but they are stirred up, and “To every man his work” is the motto that might well describe the busy scene. This chapter is like a page from the books of God’s record of service, and will doubtless be opened at the judgment seat of Christ, when each will be rewarded for his own work-and some who shirked, alas, will then suffer loss. For both the workers, and the shirkers are here mentioned, and here their names shall stand till the Lord Himself has pronounced His judgment upon all. Such records are deeply instructive, and deserve to be pondered with care that they may stir up our minds by way of remembrance.
In the New Jerusalem there are to be twelve gates (Revelation 21:12),8 and each several gate of one pearl; so that, look upon the city from which- ever standpoint one may, he will be reminded of the precious truth that Christ “loved the Church, and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). He came from heaven as a merchantman seeking goodly pearls; and having found one pearl of great price, He bought it, at the cost of all that He had; “though He was rich, for our sakes He became poor,” that we might be rich. And that heavenly city, of which Christ is the centre and the lamp for the display of God’s glory, has “a wall great and high,” speaking, as did the wall of the earthly city, of security and exclusion.
Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day seems to have had twelve gates also, though only ten are mentioned in this chapter; but in chapter 8:16 we read of “the gate of Ephraim,” and in 12:39 of “the prison gate.” The ten mentioned in the present portion remind us of the number that, it has well been said, sets forth responsibility towards God and man, of which the ten words in the law were the measure; while the twelve of the heavenly city (and note how many twelves there are in Revelation 21:0), as some have suggested, would set forth perfect administration, or governmental completeness, only to be known in the day that the kings of the earth bring the glory and the honor of the nations unto it.
I have thought there might be divine lessons for us in the names and order of these gates. That there is danger always of being fanciful, I realize. An insubject imagination, is only “evil continually” (Genesis 6:5), in the things of the Lord as well as in all else, and one would therefore seek to avoid it. But, in looking at these gates, it is not so much my thought to seek to give the interpretation of them as to make a practical application of truth which, I am convinced, is much needed in this Laodicean day. We shall therefore take them in their order, as we go through the chapter, noting likewise the interesting and instructive points brought out in connection with service as we go from port to port. We begin, then, with
The Sheep Gate
of which we read in the first verse: “Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel.”
This was priestly work indeed, for through this gate the beasts were led whose death and blood-shedding were to picture the one Offering of the ninth of Hebrews. They pointed on to the perfect sacrifice of that unnamed One of Isaiah 53:0, who was “led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He open-eth not His mouth.”
Thankful we are that for us it is not necessary to ask, as did the eunuch, “Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?” (Acts 8:34). The other Man is well known indeed to those of us who have been brought to trust the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all. In Him we have beheld the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
The Sheep Gate clearly speaks to us, then, of the Cross. It was at the Sheep Gate the Lord met the palsied man and healed him, as recorded in John 5:0, as it is at the Cross the helpless sinner finds life and peace. Here the remnant of old began to build the wall, priestly hands piling stone upon stone, and setting up the beams and bars. And here everyone must begin who has really to do with God, other than in judgment. The wall, we have already seen, speaks of holiness, which must shut out evil; but what evil is, we can never rightly know until we have understood in some measure the meaning of the Cross. It was there that all the iniquity of man’s heart was fully revealed; there too that the absolute holiness of God’s character was declared in an even more marked way than it will be made known in the lake of fire. In the Cross it was that mercy and truth met together, and that righteousness and peace kissed each other (Psalms 85:10).
“‘Tis in the cross of Christ we see
How God can save, yet righteous be.”
The most important truth of Scripture is, that on the cross the judgment of a holy God against sin fell upon His spotless Son, when He “suffered, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). There is nothing like the apprehension of this to give peace to a troubled soul. I have been awakened to see myself a lost, guilty sinner. Perhaps for years I have been going about to establish my own righteousness, and trusting that all would surely be well with me because of fancied merit in myself. I have deluded myself with the notion that God, who is love, must therefore allow sin to pass unpunished, or that my sin was, at any rate, of weight so light it would never sink me down to the pit of woe. But now all is changed. I have learned that I am a lost man! My sins, which once seemed like trifles, insignificant as molehills, now rise before my terrified vision as dark, shapeless mountains, which I fear will bury me beneath their awful weight in the nethermost depths of the abyss of divine wrath. I look on my right hand, but I find no helper. Refuge fails me. In my despair I cry out, “No man cares for my soul!” (Psalms 142:4); and in the hour of my deepest distress there comes to me One with feet beautiful upon the mountains, a messenger, one among a thousand, who tells me the good news that God, the God whom I have so grievously sinned against and so flagrantly dishonored, has found a ransom, and can thus deliver me from going down into the pit (Job 33:24). My sins and guilt have all been laid on Jesus…My judgment has fallen upon His holy head, and thus I can go righteously free.
Well does such a message deserve the name of “gospel!” Good news indeed! more welcome than cold water to a thirsty soul!
As of old, when Noah took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt-offerings upon the altar (Genesis 8:20), so now Jehovah has looked upon the work of His beloved Son and “smelled a sweet savor,” which is truly a “savor of rest” (margin); for sin is thus canceled, and God can be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Christ thus becomes the Door of the sheep, as He said: “I am the door; by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (Jno. 10:9).
Of all this, and more also, may the Sheep Gate remind us. A gate of judgment it is too; for of judgment, in Scripture, the gate often speaks. But here it is judgment falling, not upon the guilty, but upon the guiltless One who voluntarily stood in the place of the sinner. “He was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification; therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 4:25; Romans 5:1).
All thus justified are now the sheep of the good Shepherd who died, the great Shepherd who lives in glory, the chief Shepherd who is coming again. As His sheep, they have title to enter in through the gate into the city. It is saved souls, and they alone, who here on earth are gathered by the Spirit to the name of the Lord Jesus in separation from the world and its evil, and it is such alone who will be within that wall of jasper gathered around the Lamb in the glory.
Let me press it upon the reader-has all this been made good to your soul? Is your confidence for eternity based upon the work of Christ? Are you trusting alone in Jesus, who in those solemn hours of deeper than Egyptian darkness, “fought the fight alone,” vanquished Satan’s power in resurrection, and is now exalted at God’s right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour?
Oh, be persuaded! If you are resting on anything short of this, your soul is in peril most grave and fearful; for it is only “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, that cleanses from all sin” (1 Jno. 1:7). If, however, this is the ground of your confidence, if you are saved and know it, if the lesson of the Sheep Gate has been truly learned in the presence of God, I ask you to pass on with me now to
The Fish Gate
But on the way there is a small portion of the wall being built by the men of Jericho. Jericho was the city of the curse, but “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: as it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree.” So these happy Jericho men are now in the place of blessing, and serving in newness of spirit. Next to them builds, apparently alone, Zaccur the son of Imri, but God’s eye is upon him, and he shall find his name on the honor roll in the day of Christ. Then we read: “But the Fish Gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof and the bars thereof” (ver. 3).
The name of this port at once brings to mind the word of the Lord addressed to Simon and Andrew when He found them “casting a net into the sea.” “He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Precious it is to learn that, without a word as to delay, they “straightway left their nets and followed Him” (Matthew 4:17-20).
It is a weighty truth, often I fear forgotten in this pushing, restless age, that the great business of those already saved should be to bring others to Christ. Alas, alas, the indifference as to this among many of the people of God is most appalling! The Fish Gate is closed, or fallen in ruins, and there are no devoted “sons of Hassenaah” who are enough in earnest about the condition of the lost to build it up again. Is it not a shame, a crying shame, that it should ever be true of saints going to heaven, that they are unconcerned about sinners going to hell? And God has said, “He that witholdeth corn, the people shall curse him.”
Oh, the heartlessness of it! Souls perishing under one’s very eyes, and no voice raised to proclaim God’s message of love to the lost! Brothers, sisters, be honest with God! Face the question in His presence, What are you doing for souls? Will friends, neighbors, relatives, rise up in that day and say: “I lived beside him for years; he knew I was going to hell; he never warned me, nor told me of a way of escape.” I beseech you, don’t turn it aside with pious expressions as, “So much fleshly energy,” and “the need of building up the saints.” Words like these from men who lift not a finger to keep others from going down to eternal ruin, is disgusting indeed; yea, it is worse; it is actually wicked and abhorrent in the ears of Him who saith, “He that is wise winneth souls” (R.V.).
Build up the Fish Gate, brethren; go out after the lost, and bring them inside the wall, where, having been saved, they will be cared for and helped in the things of God.
I know all have not the same gift; all cannot preach to thousands. But surely it is not gift that is lacking so much as grace. It takes no special gift to distribute gospel tracts, or speak a loving word in season to needy souls. If you have “gift” enough to spend hours talking about the weather, or the various questions of domestic, business, or political life, you have all the gift that is needed to drop a tender, warning message in the ear of a careless one, or to point an anxious person to Christ.
Let none shirk this work, for the day of manifestation draws on apace. Then His eyes that are as a flame of fire will pierce into every hidden motive, every unworthy, selfish thought, and bring all to light. In verse 4 we read of three who repaired the stretch of wall adjoining the Fish Gate, and then we read of the Tekoites; and the Holy Ghost has noted that “their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord” (ver. 5). They will have to face this record at the judgment-seat of Christ; and I fear there are some God-made, and many self-made “nobles” among the people of the Lord to-day who manifest as gross indifference to the work of God.
That, on the other hand, mere fleshly zeal will not be owned of God, I quite admit; and this brings before us the need of enforcing the lessons suggested by the next five gates.
The Old Gate
“Moreover the old gate repaired Jehoiada the son of Paseah, and Meshtillam the son of Besodeiah; they laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, and the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.”
One would not try to be too insistent on the special meaning of this gate. I had thought of it as the old used in the new, the place of nature in the economy of grace; for our bodies, with all their marvelous members, belong to the old creation still; but He who will glorify them by and by finds use for them in His own service even now in the day of their humiliation.
But the suggestion of another that the old gate would be the port of entry for the old path seems a clearer and higher thought. It is in Jeremiah 6:16 that we read: “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 to your souls.” And so the Old Gate might speak of subjection to the revealed will of God-abiding in that which was from the beginning. This still impresses upon us the great truth that we are called to recognize in all things the Lordship of Christ, and to hold every power we possess at His command, serving with grace in the heart.
“Naught that I have mine own I call,
I hold it for the Giver;
My heart, my strength, my life, my all,
Are His and His forever.”
Evil is not in natural things themselves, but is in the abuse of them. Every talent we have is to be used for His glory. Woe to the man who hides one of them away, under pretense that nature, in this sense, is opposed to grace!
This is what the Holy Spirit presses upon us when He says: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). The child of God should remember that he has been bought with a price. His body is purchased with the blood of Christ. He is not called to “consecrate himself, as people put it to-day, but to gladly own that he is already consecrated by the death of the Lord Jesus. The blood and the oil have been placed on the ear, the hand and the foot-he belongs to Christ. The ear, to listen for His commandment; the hand to do His bidding; the foot, to run in His ways.
Can any one truly enter into this, and yet be careless in regard to service? Impossible. You are not only saved from hell, but purchased to be the bondman of Jesus Christ.
There is a depth of meaning in that word “present,” as noted above. Your body is His already. He might simply demand His own; but in grace He says, “I beseech you … present your body.” Have you done so? Have you, in other words, owned His claims upon you? If not, will you longer delay? O beloved, yield yourself unto Him, that thus you may bring forth fruit unto God. “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit” (Jno. 15:8).
I do not press it that the Old Gate was meant to teach this special truth, and I trust none will find fault over an application.
Whatever the meaning one more spiritually-minded may discern, the fact remains that “Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price.” It is this I seek to emphasize, for it is, with many, well-nigh forgotten. Vast numbers of Christians live as though their only thought was to enjoy the present scene, “on the east of Jordan;” pampering every whim of their blood-purchased bodies, and looking forward to going to heaven at last without having ever known the toil and conflict-yet the deep, hidden joy-of the servant’s path.
Especially is this often so of those in comfortable and easy circumstances. The willing workers of verse 8 might well rebuke such. “Next unto him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, of the goldsmiths. Next unto him also repaired Hananiah the the son of one of the apothecaries.” I question if goldsmiths’ and apothecaries’ sons had known much of downright hard labor, but here we see them hard at work helping to fortify Jerusalem. God has not forgotten that their soft white hands became hardened and sun-burned as they used trowel and mortar on the walls of the holy city.
Nor would I pass over the Gibeonites, Melatiah and the men of Gibeon (ver. 7) whether by these we are to understand descendants of the once wily deceivers who entrapped Joshua into disobedience, or Israelites indeed, dwelling in the ancient city. In either case, we may be reminded of what we once were, and what grace has made us.
After the goldsmiths and the apothecaries, repaired Rephaiah, the son of Hur, ruler of half of Jerusalem. He did not hire a servant to do the work for him, but though a man of wealth and power, he labored with his hands, and the Lord took note of his devotedness.
In verse 10 we read of a man whose sphere of labor was very circumscribed but very necessary. Jedaiah repaired “over against his house.” his is noteworthy. Many of God’s people can do little in a public way in His service, but they can each be concerned about maintaining the wall over against their own houses. And this is tremendously important. It is useless to talk of separation in the assembly, if there be not separation maintained at home. If the children are allowed to go into the world, or to bring the world into the home, depend upon it, the public testimony will avail for little. Godly words in the meeting and worldly ways in the house, will soon disgust neighbors and friends, and prove the undoing of the household.
Another edifying spectacle is afforded us in verse 12: “Next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.” It must have been a grand sight to behold this ruler and his daughters so zealously affected in a good thing. Our sisters have here a bright example of devotedness to the Lord. Would that it might be followed by thousands more!
Oft-times, one fears, where the truth is known that women are called upon to be in subjection, and not to lead in public work (after the fashion of the day), there is a settling down on the part of many sisters to a life of inaction and spiritual desuetude. But all work is not of a public character, as we have already had occasion to observe. There are many ways and abundant opportunities afforded godly women to labor, both in the gospel and in building up the wall of protection and exclusion of evil, without appearing on the platform and usurping authority over the man. Let there be but a willing mind, and it will not be necessary to bewail the lack of opportunities for women’s service in a scriptural way.
But if any are to be used of God, there must be not only this recognizing of His claims upon us, but also that lowliness of spirit that ever commends a servant. So we pass on to
The Valley Gate
“The valley gate repaired Hanun, and the inhabitants of Zanoah” (ver. 13).
This surety suggests humility-a willingness to take a lowly place that thus the Lord may be exalted. One fears it is a gate little used by many of us nowadays.
Pride is ever characteristic of fallen creatures, who have nothing to be proud of; for “what hast thou that thou hast not received?” Even in connection with service for the Lord, how this unholy thing creeps in, leading one servant to be jealous of another, instead of catching the Master’s voice as He says, “What is that to thee? Follow thou Me!”
What Cowper says of sin in general may be predicated of pride in particular:
“It twines itself about my thoughts,
And slides into my prayer.”
It is indeed the root-sin of all. By it Satan himself fell, and one “being lifted up with pride, falls into the condemnation of the devil.”
God has said, “To this man will I look; to him that is humble, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at My word.” It is perhaps only a truism to write that only as one walks humbly before Him, is he in a condition of soul to be safely used in service. I do not mean that God cannot overrule all things, and in a sense use even the basest of men. The devil himself has to serve. God used Balaam, and others equally ungodly. But in such cases it is to the condemnation of the very one used.
To go on preaching, and handling the truth of God while the heart is lifted up and the eyes lofty is one of the most dang3erous courses one can take, and certain to end in ruin and disaster.
We have much cause, as we contemplate our coldness and indifference, and the appalling power of the world over us, to be on our faces before God, instead of walking in pride, only to learn eventually that He “is able to abase” us, as in the case of Babylon’s haughty king. If we humble not ourselves, He must humble us in His own way, for it is part of His purpose to “hide pride from man.”
Keeping this, then, before our minds, we pass on to the solemn and much-needed lesson of
The Dung Gate
“But the dung gate repaired Malchiah the son of Rechab, the ruler of part of Bethhaccerem” (ver. 14). Humbling work this, for a ruler, but necessary labor surely.
The Dung Gate was the port whence they carried forth the filth, that the city might not be defiled. And so we read, “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” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
Real blessing there cannot be if this is forgotten; but if we have truly learned the lesson of the Valley Gate, that of the Dung Gate will be no difficulty. As saints and servants we are called, not to uncleanness, but to holiness. We are to cleanse ourselves; that is, to judge, in the presence of God, and turn away from all filthiness-let its form be the grosser one of the flesh, or the less objectionable (in the eyes of men) of the spirit.
In the first three chapters of Romans we have sharply delineated the naked hideousness of the filthiness of the flesh. In the first three chapters of 1st Corinthians and in the 2nd of Colossians, we have unveiled the filthiness of the spirit: a mind exalting itself against God and His Christ-a wisdom that is earthly, sensual, devilish. So we read elsewhere of the “desires of the flesh and of the mind,” in which we once walked. (See Ephesians 2:0.)
From all these things we are now called to cleanse ourselves. Body and mind alike are to be preserved free from impurity, for the glory of God.
“Flee also youthful lusts” is a much-needed word. In the world about us, men live to pander to the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life It should be otherwise with the Christian, and must be otherwise if he is to be a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Down with the bars of the Dung Gate, brethren; out with the filth! “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.”
Thus we pass on our journey round the walls, and come next to
The Gate of the Fountain
“The gate of the fountain repaired Shallun the son of Col-hozeh, the ruler of part of Mizpah” (ver. 15).
To the woman at the well, the Lord Jesus spoke of a fountain (not merely a well) of living water. Again in John 7:0 He cried, “He that believeth on Me … out of his inward parts shall flow rivers of living water.” The fountain of living water is a type, or symbol of the Holy Spirit who indwells all believers.
It has been asserted by many that until the Christian surrenders himself fully to God, he does not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is a mistake. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9); “After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise”(Ephesians 1:13)-sealed, too, “until the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30); “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts” (Galatians 4:6).
But that there is often in the experience of many what looks, indeed, like a “second blessing,” no observant believer can deny. What is really meant by it? Simply this: that though the Holy Spirit indwells all children of God in this dispensation, yet, in many, worldliness and self-pleasing are so characteristic, that He who should control us for Christ, and fill us with freshness and power as He ministers Christ to our souls, is become like a fountain choked with stones and rubbish, and thus the life is barren and the testimony powerless. Awakened at last to see the folly of such a life of uselessness to God and reproach to Christ, the saint humbles himself in self-judgment, the filth is put away, and now the once choked fountain is running over, and the Spirit of God in power takes control of the believer to use him for the Lord’s glory, and to make him a vessel of refreshment to others. There is a fountain of living water within, and out of his inward parts flow rivers of living water for others (Jno. 7:38).
“Be ye filled with the Spirit” is a word the importance of which cannot be over-estimated. May every child of grace go on to know more of it in power as he walks in obedience to the word of God! For there are two things that in Scripture are practically inseparable-I refer to the Spirit and the Word. A Spirit-filled Christian will be a Scripture-filled Christian.
In verses 16 to 25 we read of many persons who repaired that portion of the wall extending from the fountain gate to the water gate. There are fine shades and significant expressions used in several instances that we do well to notice. Of one and another we only read that they repaired such and such a portion. In verse 20, of Baruch we are told that he “earnestly repaired the other piece, from the turning of the wall,” etc. It is not for nothing God inserted that adverb. Three are mentioned in verse 23 who repaired over against their houses, and we can be sure every detail was precious to God. But passing on to verse 26 we reach
The Water Gate
“Moreover the Nethinim dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out.”
The Nethinim were servants, and it is meet that they should have the care of this gate, for water is very generally a type of the word of God. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word” (Psalms 119:9).
We do not read of any repairs being made here, only that the Nethinim dwelt over against the water gate. Possibly this port needed none. At any rate, we know that of which it speaks needs not to be repaired, for the word of God liveth and abideth forever. All vain man’s assaults upon it have left it uninjured and unchanged. We are called upon to defend it, contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the people of God, but it would be impiety to attempt to patch or improve it.
The water of the Word it is that Christ uses to wash His disciples’ feet and to keep them free from defilement (Jno. 13:1-16; 15:3). It is written: “Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the Word,” etc. (Ephesians 5:25, Ephesians 5:26).
It is remarkable that what in Ephesians is connected with the Spirit, is in Colossians linked with the Word. Compare Ephesians 5:18-20, with Colossians 3:16. Both alike are a source of joy and blessing. And we need not wonder at this similarity in effect, for of the Word it is said, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
In chapter 8 of this book (Nehemiah) we see all the people gathered together “as one man into the street that was before the water gate,” there to the reading of the word of God. The result is joy and blessing.
O fellow-believer, I beseech you, “meditate on these things, give thyself wholly to them,” and thus shall your profiting appear to all, as you “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” for “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Timothy 3:17). This, then, is the servant’s furnishing. He is to study to show himself “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
And this means far more than reading books, however helpful, written on the Bible. It necessitates diligent, painstaking study of the sacred Word itself. Other books may help, often, to lead out the mind on certain broad lines, but the Book must supersede them all if there is to be real growth in the knowledge of God.
By this alone will you overcome the wicked one, if “the word of God abideth in you” (1 Jno. 2:14).
Another company of Tekoites repaired between the water gate and that which next claims our attention, namely:
The Horse Gate
“From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his house” (v. 28).
The horse is used with striking frequency in Scripture as a figure of the warrior.
It is so described in Job 39:19-25, where, “He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha! and he smelleth the battle afar off.” In Zechariah 1:8, and in Revelation 6:0, we read of four symbolic horses, which speak of warrior powers; and when the eternal Word of God, clad in blood-dipped vesture, descends from heaven to the battle preceding the awful supper of the great God, at the beginning of the Millennium, He is seen in vision riding on a white horse, and the saints are seen similarly mounted.
The ass is the symbol of peace; the horse, of war. When the Prince of Peace rode into Jerusalem of old, it was on the ass. When He comes to judgment, it is on the horse.
The Horse Gate may speak, then, of soldier-service in a world opposed to God and His truth. It bids us “earnestly contend for the .faith once for all delivered to the saints “(Jude 1:3, R. V.)
The truth has been given to us at great cost, not only to the One who is Himself “the Truth,” but for its preservation, and recovery when lost at times, myriads of warrior-saints have suffered and died.
Alas that we, children of such glorious sires, should so lightly value what to them was dearer than life! We live in a day, not of open persecution, but of laxity and latitudinarianism. We are affected much by the spirit of the times; hence there are few among us who, like that mighty man of old, grasp the sword of the Spirit to defend the truth of God, and fight till the hand cleaves to the very weapon it holds. (See 2 Samuel 23:9, 2 Samuel 23:10). But God’s Eleazars will have rich reward in the day when many will be saved, but so as by fire.
Let me quote here the words of another, which might well be written in letters of living fire: “Renounce all the policy of the age. Trample upon Saul’s armor. Grasp the Book of God. Trust the Spirit who wrote its pages. Fight with this weapon only and always. Cease to amuse, and seek to arouse. Shun the clap of a delighted audience, and listen for the sobs of a convicted one. Give up trying to please men who have only the thickness of their ribs between their souls and hell; and warn, and plead, and entreat, as those who feel the waters of eternity creeping upon them.”9
And remember beloved, as you fight, that the day of testimony for God is fast passing away. It will soon be too late to stand for the truth, and too late to minister Christ to needy souls. “The night cometh when no man can work”(Jno. 9:4).
Of this we are reminded as we pass on to
The East Gate
“After him repaired also Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the east gate” (v. 29).
The gate of the sunrising points on-does it not?-to the morning without clouds, when He shall come down upon the mown grass, and as clear shining after rain.
Having shone forth as the Bright and Morning Star, and as such gathered His redeemed to Himself in the clouds, He will be manifested to Israel and the nations that are spared as the all-glorious Sun of Righteousness, with healing in His wings. This is the special character in which He is presented to Israel and the earth, but the two are only different aspects of His one coming again.
For that glad morning weary saints all along have waited and longed, straining their eyes to catch the first glimpse of the Bright and Morning Star. Wicked servants have said, “My Lord delayeth His coming;” but He “is not slack, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” It is high time to be aroused from our lethargy, for already the long-expected midnight cry is ringing through the world, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him!” The shout of the Lord, the voice of the arch- angel, and the trump of God, will soon resound through the vaulted heavens, announcing the return of the long-absent One, and ushering in the morning. But for many it will be the beginning of the darkest night earth has ever known.
Oh, let us be up and doing while it is called to-day, that we may not be ashamed before Him at His coming. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
Only a small part of the wall remains to be noticed, but among the workers upon it there is one we must not cursorily pass by. Meshullam, the son of Berechiah repaired, we learn, “over against his chamber” (ver. 30). Here was a man who probably had no house, no real home. He was but a lodger; but even so, he was faithful to Him who appointed him to glorify God in that narrow place. He went to work with energy and repaired over against his one little room. And thus he becomes a bright example for every one in like circumstances, bidding such remember that “he that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much.”
The Gate Miphkad
is the last in order. “After him repaired Malchiah the goldsmith’s son unto the place of the Nethinim, and of the merchants, over against the gate Miphkad, and to the going up of the corner” (ver. 31).
The word Miphkad, according to the dictionaries, means review, or appointment (for judgment). It was doubtless the gate where controversies were tried, after the Eastern fashion. How solemn is this! For it is when the Lord comes that “we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ.” That will be the gate Miphkad for the believer. There will be the last great review. Every detail of the saint’s life will come up for inspection. It may be then that
“Deeds of merit, as we thought them,
He will show us were but sin;
Little acts we had forgotten,
He will tell us were for Him.”
Oh, the unspeakable solemnity of it! All our ease-loving and self-seeking brought to light then! All our pride and vanity manifested! Everything put on its own proper level! All our works inspected by Him who seeth not as man seeth. How many of us will wish we had been more true and real in our work down here. Things we valued highly on earth, how lightly will they weigh up there!-as the very small dust of the balance; yea, lighter even than that-altogether, lighter than vanity!
And those things we have neglected and foolishly ignored in the days of our pilgrimage, how much more precious than gold will they appear in the light of that judgment-seat!
O beloved, shall we not seek to be now what we shall then wish we had been; let ns do now what we shall then wish we had done; turn now from what we shall then wish we had judged? The Lord grant that His people be awakened to the reality of these things, and the importance of living for eternity!
And thus we have traveled round the wall from one part to another, and have, I trust, been blessed in doing so. We might close our meditations here, only that God does not end in this way, for in the last verse we come back again, having made the circuit, to that with which we began-
The Sheep Gate
“And between the going up of the corner unto the Sheep Gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.”
It is as though God would not have us turn away without reminding us that the Cross with which we began will be before our souls for eternity. After all has been gone into at the judgment-seat, we shall turn from it to the Judge Himself, who is our Redeemer and Bridegroom. We shall see Him as a Lamb that had been slain. At His once-pierced feet we shall fall in adoration, and forever sing praises “unto Him that loveth us, and hath washed us from our sins in His own blood.”
We shall never get beyond the Cross. It will be the theme of our praises throughout all the ages to come. Oh, to ever live in the light of it now! It speaks of sins forever put away, and also of a world under judgment, for the, rejection of God’s Son. Our place, then, is outside of it all. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:13, Hebrews 13:14).