Wednesday, June 7th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible Kingcomments
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Nehemiah 3". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ kng/ nehemiah-3.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Nehemiah 3". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
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This chapter radiates warmth and enthusiasm. The whole population responds to Nehemiah’s call to build. Each is satisfied with his place, without being jealous of another. Hardly anyone avoids his task, no one grumbles about his task. Because of this there is care for every part of the wall. How impenetrable is a church with such collaborators.
The Spirit takes us by the hand and goes with us along the wall. We are allowed to watch with Him the progress of the building. We see people busy. We are not inspectors, but students. The Spirit is the Inspector. He says what the people are called, what they are doing, where they are doing, why they are doing it. He shows who’s diligent and who’s doing nothing. He sees the motives that lead a person.
Everything that is done is recorded. Not to have a nice evening later with a slide presentation or a video presentation and to talk about the performances. There doesn’t have to be anything wrong with that. But what is recorded here, is recorded on indelible paper, in the register of God. Impeccably the Spirit records the names of the employees and their activities.
The enumeration of the workers is reminiscent of the enumeration at the end of the letter to the Romans (Romans 16:1-Nehemiah :). It is also reminiscent of “the right seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). There each one will “receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Corinthians 3:8). This also applies to us. That is why it is so instructive to walk with the Spirit of God. Of every worker in God’s kingdom, in which each has his own task and field, is now recorded what he is doing.
However, we are not all working on our own, for our own little kingdom. We do not work alongside each other when we are working together towards the same goal: the rebuilding of the wall. Shoulder to shoulder they are busy, which is so nicely indicated by the recurring words “next to”.
Nowhere is it more important than in the church of God to have the right person in the right place. For this purpose “God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired” (1 Corinthians 12:18). To this end the necessary gift has been given to each member by the Spirit (Romans 12:6-Ruth :). Service is not only serving with the Word. Service is being engaged in the work that the Lord has ordained for each person. It is about doing His will. He rewards according to the faithfulness with which one is engaged and not according to the gift one possesses.
Everyone has a personal and unique share in the restoration of the wall of Jerusalem. No one does the same work, no one imitates another. Each has a share that is different from all the others. We see this in the disciples of the Lord, in the co-workers of Paul, in the warriors of David.
There is work enough. Everyone can get to work, no one needs to be unemployed. Those who have nothing to do may ask themselves whether it is because of laziness, jealousy, or pride. If you’re lazy, you don’t want to work. He who is jealous only wants a certain work, but that has already been assigned to someone else. He who is proud does not want work that he considers to be beneath his dignity. Everyone has a work that suits him and is given the grace to do so.
Building the wall is not an afterthought, but a necessity. A wall is intended for separation, it is a means of defense against external attacks by the enemy. This also makes the wall a means of security for society within the wall. The presence of the wall allows the inhabitants of the city to concentrate on the values of the city. The values of the city are determined by the temple, the house where God dwells. The wall also makes the city a whole.
The wall is not meant to isolate the city from her surroundings. Separation does not equate to isolation. It is beautiful to see how in this wall there are no less than ten gates. This makes it possible to enter and to leave. It is necessary that the gates are guarded. In the new Jerusalem guarding is no longer necessary (Revelation 21:25; Revelation 21:27).
The ten gates are:
1. The Sheep Gate (Nehemiah 3:1)
2. The Fish Gate (Nehemiah 3:3)
3. The Old Gate (Nehemiah 3:6)
4. The Valley Gate (Nehemiah 3:13)
5. The Refuse Gate (Nehemiah 3:14)
6. The Fountain Gate (Nehemiah 3:15)
7. The Water Gate (Nehemiah 3:26)
8. The Horse Gate (Nehemiah 3:28)
9. The East Gate (Nehemiah 3:29)
10. The Inspection Gate (Nehemiah 3:31)
Eliashib – the Sheep Gate – Two Towers
The account of the building begins at the Sheep Gate in the northeast and runs counterclockwise to the north (Nehemiah 3:1-Judges :), west (Nehemiah 3:8-1 Chronicles :), south (Nehemiah 3:14), and east (Nehemiah 3:15-Jonah :) to end up again at the Sheep Gate in the northeast.
The first to be mentioned as someone preparing to start the building work is the high priest Eliashib. His name means ‘God restores’. The fact that he is mentioned first is unfortunately not because of his devotion to the work, but because of his position. He is not faithful. A comparison with the building of the next gates shows that he does not provide the doors in the Sheep Gate with beams and bolts and bars (Nehemiah 3:3; Nehemiah 3:6Nehemiah 3:13; Nehemiah 3:14Nehemiah 3:15).
By omitting the beams and bolts and bars, the door is only a symbolic barrier. Everyone is free to open it, and those who wish to do so will not encounter any resistance. But that is not the purpose of a door. People who have nothing to do in the city must be stopped by it. The door may only be opened to people who belong in the city and who keep to the rules of the city.
Is this negligence perhaps due to the fact that he is a blood relative of Tobiah (Nehemiah 13:4) and that his grandson married a daughter of Sanballat (Nehemiah 13:28)? Those who have family ties with enemies of God are particularly exposed to the danger of not being so concerned about separation. This is an understandable difficulty. Therefore, we must take care that family relationships do not affect the position of separation before God.
The Sheep Gate
The first repair work is done at the Sheep Gate, by the priests. Through this gate the sheep are brought into the city to be sacrificed in the temple. In this way we are immediately reminded of the most important reason for the existence of the city and the temple: the worship of God. All believers are priests. Restoration of the wall is first and foremost necessary for the progress of priestly service. It is said only of this gate that they consecrate it, i.e. they separate and dedicate it especially to God.
The Sheep Gate is also a reminder of the Lord Jesus. He is the true Sheep Gate. He says of Himself: “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7). And a little further on He says: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9). Our personal life can be compared to a city. We can admit all possible sins in our lives, we can even enjoy sin. As long as we are of the world, we do the same. But enjoying sin gives a bitter aftertaste and the end is death. Then we must resort to the city of God.
The Sheep Gate is the entrance we must have. The real restoration of our life begins when we are saved from judgment by the Lord Jesus. As a result, we are allowed to “go in”, which is to come into the presence of God in faith to approach Him as priests (Hebrews 10:19). We may also go “out”, that is to go out into the world to testify of the Lord Jesus and to work for Him. We will also “find pasture”, which is rest and food.
We can also see the local church as a city. If there is no wall around it, if the separation of the world is bad, then the thoughts and actions of the world can find their way in unhindered and unrestrained. Anyone who is concerned about this development should start by rebuilding the Sheep Gate. The Lord Jesus must once again be given His place as the One to Whom we owe our salvation and through Whom we may come into the presence of God. Through Him we may also do our service in the world and with Him we will find rest and food.
The builders at the Sheep Gate are the high priest and the priests. Priests are people who are used to the presence of God. They know His holiness and His goodness. Such people are needed to present the Lord Jesus as the door of the sheep. Whoever knows God, who knows what is His due and what His desires are, will gladly point out the door that leads to that God.
Near the gate there are two towers: “Tower of the Hundred [and] the Tower of Hananel”. A tower is a watchtower, where a guard can see far outside the city what the city is approaching. This is reminiscent of vigilance. The gate is only allowed to open for sheep. For wolves the door must remain closed. Paul warns that after his departure “savage wolves will come in …, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). What we must be especially careful of are “the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
The name ‘Tower of the Hundred’ is remarkable in connection with the shepherd and the sheep. It recalls the parable the Lord Jesus pronounces about a shepherd who had a hundred sheep, of which he lost one (Matthew 15:3-Judges :). The intention is that all one hundred sheep should be brought to safety and not just the one lost sheep. From this tower the whole flock is watched over. No sheep should be missed.
The Men of Jericho – Zaccur
The men of Jericho
The subsequent people we see “next to” are the men of Jericho. The name Jericho evokes memories. It is the first city that Israel conquers when it enters the land. When Israel enters the land and comes to Jericho, the city is surrounded by a thick wall. The gate is closed. The city is completely closed for the Israelites. The wall around that city has to be demolished. This is done by faith (Joshua 6:1-:; Joshua 6:20; Hebrews 11:30). God pronounces His curse on that city and on everyone who will rebuild it and set up its gates (Joshua 6:26). What God has said is fulfilled (1 Kings 16:34).
The men we are now watching are from the city of the curse. However, they want nothing more to do with it. They are aware of their origin, but there has been a change in their lives. Isn’t it wonderful that they are not building on the wall of Jericho, but on the wall of the city of God?
Every builder for God has been a builder for the world. We have built our own territory where we had the power and made everything our own. For the people of God, we kept the gates closed. However, God has broken down the self-built walls of our hearts and all around our lives, and we have come to faith. Now we may take our place in building the wall around His city.
Next to Jericho’s men, Zaccur is at work. Zaccur is the abbreviated form of Zechariah. He is a Levite and is one of those who have signed a covenant made with the LORD to be faithful henceforth (Nehemiah 10:12). This indicates that his heart is turned toward the LORD, and his mind is such that he wants to do what is pleasing to God.
Levites, like priests, are connected to the temple. They help the priests to perform their service. Zaccur realizes that there can never be a holy service in the temple that is pleasing to God, if the city is not surrounded by walls. That is why he participates in the rebuilding of the wall.
The Fish Gate – the Sons of Hassenaah
The Fish Gate
This is the second gate we encounter. The Fish Gate is known in the days of the first temple as one of the main entrances to Jerusalem (Zephaniah 1:10; 2 Chronicles 33:14). It owes its name to the merchants who bring in their fish for the fish markets from Tyre or Lake Galilee (Nehemiah 13:16).
The Fish Gate is reminiscent of the gospel. The Lord Jesus turns His disciples into “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). Through the preaching of the gospel, people are brought into the city of God through the Fish Gate. The gate speaks of supervision. Care must be taken to ensure that a biblical gospel is brought. Only through the preaching of a Biblical gospel people come to repentance and new life.
If the preaching is adapted to people’s tastes, only feeling or reason is addressed. The conscience remains untouched. People who believe because of the benefit the gospel gives them (cf. John 6:26; John 2:23-Lamentations :) do not belong in the city of God. Those who work at the Fish Gate must see to it (cf. Matthew 13:47-Galatians :).
There are also people who offer the gospel as merchandise. They suppose that “the fear of God is a profit [source]” (1 Timothy 6:5), a matter of financial gain. These are the bread preachers; they preach because it is their profession, not because the Spirit urges them to do so. Following a theological education is open to everyone. One does not have to be converted. On the basis of their diploma they moderate the right to participate in the building of the Fish Gate. The city of God is not waiting for such builders. They must be excluded from the building site.
The sons of Hassenaah
The sons of Hassenaah are mentioned among those who have returned from exile (Ezra 2:35; Nehemiah 7:38). In number, it is the largest group that has returned from Babylon. They are rebuilding the Fish Gate. We do not hear how many sons are at work. However, it is mentioned that they meticulously finish every part of the gate. Of them it is mentioned that they provided the Fish Gate with beams and bolts and bars. This is what is neglected by Eliashib when building the Sheep Gate (Nehemiah 3:1).
Meremoth – Meshullam – Zadok
Some work in groups such as the sons of Hassenaah (Nehemiah 3:3). Others work alone, such as Meremoth. Yet those who work alone also know they are connected with the others. The words “next to” indicates that well.
Meremoth doesn’t have to rebuild his piece of wall from the ground up. He is busy with “repair work”. The part of the wall he has taken care of is still standing. But that piece is damaged, its function has been damaged. Maybe it’s a piece of wall with holes.
Repairing is as important as rebuilding. Maybe we think our wall is still intact, while a closer inspection would show that there are some holes here and there. Then we need to work like a Meremoth to repair the damage. We may have allowed in our thinking ideas about the functioning of the church that we do not derive from God’s Word, but from the world. Expressing and implementing those ideas will make a hole in the wall. Repair is necessary.
We come across his name again and again. It is possible that Meremoth will finish his work sooner, because it is only repair work and he does not have to rebuild from the ground up. In any case, he is so diligent that after this work he starts working on another part of the wall (Nehemiah 3:21). His name is also mentioned among those who sign the covenant (Nehemiah 10:5).
Like Meremoth we also encounter Meshullam twice during the building of the wall. After first completing a piece for others, he goes to work “in front of his own quarters” (Nehemiah 3:30).
Like Eliashib (Nehemiah 3:1) Meshullam is connected to Tobiah through family ties. His daughter is married to a son of Tobiah (Nehemiah 6:18). That does not plead in his favor. Such a connection is wrong. Scripture is clear about this (Ezra 9:1-Leviticus :; Ezra 10:1-Leviticus :; 2 Corinthians 6:14). Yet the Spirit records his commitment to rebuilding. Perhaps he has realized that his consent to this marriage is wrong, making him useful to God. His name also appears in the list of those who sign the covenant (Nehemiah 10:20).
The name Zadok is worn by several people. The only thing known about this Zadok is that he is the son of Baana. Zadok means ‘justice’. Baana means ‘son of suffering’. Whoever does justice must count on the suffering that comes with it. On the other hand, there is the “blessed” that Peter, guided by the Spirit of God, pronounces to all who suffer in this way (1 Peter 3:14).
Tekoa is located south of Bethlehem. The place is known as the abode of Amos, the prophet (Amos 1:1) and of a wise woman (2 Samuel 14:2). People from that city have now come to Jerusalem to help rebuild the wall. In doing so, they are siding with God like an Amos and showing true wisdom like the woman.
Unfortunately there are people among the Tekoites who do not help to build the wall. This is not because they have become ill or something like that. The reason is that they find themselves too great for this kind of work. They are people of prestige. This work doesn’t suit their position. They can put others to work, but they don’t allow themselves to be put to work. Giving orders to others, fine, but receiving orders, ho way. They don’t like the idea of obeying a ‘master’.
Too often it turns out that a prominent place in the world prevents people from cooperating in God’s kingdom. They do want to talk and rule, but don’t roll up their sleeves and bend their necks under the work. They do not cooperate in something where man loses his importance and only God’s honor counts.
Paul does not feel too good to work with his own hands and provide for his own needs and the needs of others (Acts 20:34). And is not the Lord Jesus the perfect example? He, Who is the Master of all, is in the midst of His disciples as One Who serves (Luke 22:24-Hosea :). The lesson He teaches is that everyone who has been given a prominent place in the church should learn from Him what serving means.
The Old Gate – Joiada and Meshullam
The Old Gate
The third gate in the wall is the Old Gate. It can also be translated as “gate of the old [city]” or “gate of the old [wall]”. In any case, the gate reminds us of the past, of the glory days of the city.
For us, the rebuilding of this gate is also important. In the work on the wall of the city of God to protect what is of God, we have to go back to what was from the beginning. God has given us His Word to show how the church came into being and how she functions in the beginning. We see this in the book of Acts. For the problems that hinder the functioning, He has given directions through His Spirit in the New Testament letters. These instructions have lost nothing of their present-day relevance. It is not for nothing God’s eternal and lasting Word.
In the time of Nehemiah there is only the memory of the glory of the past. Solomon’s days do not return. It is the same for the time in which we live with regard to the church. We can think with melancholy of the glory time of the beginning of the church, but that time does not return.
However, God has not changed. He has foreseen how the church would go. He has given us the letters of the New Testament. In them we find everything that is necessary to be able to come together as a church and to live together in the last days. It is not necessary to invent new ways of fellowship that are not based on Scripture. It is even wrong. We are allowed to restore and enter the Old Gate. We may ask about the “old paths” and find “rest for your soul” (Jeremiah 6:16).
Joiada and Meshullam
Two builders are working on the Old Gate. Fellowship in building this gate is indispensable. You cannot put the ancient principles of the church into practice on your own. At least two are needed: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” the Lord Jesus says with a view to the local church (Matthew 18:20).
Of the two builders, nothing is revealed except their names and those of their father. As a result, the emphasis is placed on the work they do. Important is what they do, not who they are. This also applies to us.
Melatiah and Jadon
In some cases the father is mentioned by a name. Sometimes it goes even further back in the ancestry and the names of even more ancestors are mentioned. This is not the case with Melatiah and Jadon. They tell us where they come from. The education that each undergoes is not only determined by his family, but also by his environment.
From a spiritual point of view it is not only important that someone is converted and becomes a child of God. That is the most important thing, but it is also important in what spiritual climate a person grows up.
As an extra peculiarity we read under whose authority they are. It seems that they are not directly accountable to Nehemiah, but that with the permission of the governor they help to rebuild.
Uzziel and Hananiah
The next builders introduced to us are men whose professions we also know. Uzziel means ‘power of God’. He is a goldsmith. Hananiah means ‘Yahweh has favored’. He is a perfumer.
A goldsmith works with the most precious metal and has to be accurate. A perfumer works with all kinds of oils and fragrant spices. A goldsmith decorates people and materials. A perfumer provides means of care for the body, making it smell good and also help in healing sick parts of the body.
From a spiritual point of view, such people are indispensable. They are the ‘fine’ workers, with an eye for detail. They are capable of decorating and caring for the members of the church. We recognize them in the shepherds and teachers.
There is a piece of wall to which they don’t have to do anything. The Broad Wall has remained intact. This wall has defied all attacks. In the lives of believers or churches there can be weak spots as well as strong spots. Some truths are unknown. Then there must be upbuilding, education, or else the devil will use ignorance to penetrate. Other truths, on the other hand, are well known and one is well able to defend that truth against attacks (1 Thessalonians 5:1-Exodus :).
We come to Rephaiah, which means “Yahweh healed’. He occupies a prominent position. He is in charge of overseeing half of the area that belongs to Jerusalem. It is an area outside Jerusalem. He knows that area and will have known its dangers. This will have been an extra incentive for him to make Jerusalem a safe area.
Those who have special responsibilities outside the city of God and therefore know social life well will not withdraw from their part in the building of the wall. They know better than many others the dangers from social life that threaten the life in the city of God, the church.
Jedaiah – Hattush
A special feature of Jedaiah is that he “repairs opposite his house”. This important characteristic is also found in Nehemiah 3:23; Nehemiah 3:28Nehemiah 3:29; Nehemiah 3:30. Repairing opposite his own house is about caring for his own family. Every father’s first concern should be to separate his family for God. Anyone who wants to be faithful personally will be aware of this. The blessing for the church of families dedicated to God cannot be overestimated. A church is as strong as the families of which it is made up.
The name Jedaiah means, among other things, ‘one that invokes the LORD’. Jedaiah is a worshiper. Prayer is the foundation on which he builds his house. Is the wall of our family prayer or the prayer for our family in ruins? Shouldn’t repairs be started there?
Maybe we started the first years of marriage this way, but we no longer pray as husband and wife and as a family. Now there are often harsh and bitter words, there is an unpleasant atmosphere, the children no longer feel the security of the past. Perhaps the children have felt this for a long time and have become indifferent to spiritual things.
Then let us go back to the wall of prayer. Let us begin and end the day again by calling upon God. Maybe husband and wife should tell each other that they have not prayed together anymore. Then let them get down on their knees and find each other again before God.
Hattush is just another one of those people whose only thing we read is his father’s name. But he’s in God’s memorial book. It is written of him with indelible ink that he also contributed to the construction of the wall.
Malchijah and Hasshub – the Tower of Furnaces
Malchijah and Hasshub
Both men come from families who came with Zerubbabel from Babel (Ezra 2:6; Ezra 2:32). They repair a second part of the wall. Probably it does not mean that they have already done a first part, but that the wall is divided into several parts and that they are working on the second part.
Not everyone is called to start a work of the Lord. Some may be called to continue a work. One is no less than the other. In this example we see how much we complement each other. Not only are we doing a work together with others, but we are also ensuring the progress of a work that the Lord wants to uphold.
The Tower of Furnaces
It is not inconceivable that the Tower of Furnaces is located in the bakers’ street. That is the street from where Jeremiah gets one loaf of bread a day when he is in prison (Jeremiah 37:21). In the tower are several furnaces where bread is baked for the city. It is a beautiful work to restore that tower.
It is important that there is a tower in the wall where food is prepared for the inhabitants of the city. This tower serves on the one hand as a lookout and thus speaks of vigilance in view of an approaching enemy. On the other hand, this tower speaks of food supply for the inhabitants of the city.
Shallum and His Daughters
His prominent position (cf. Nehemiah 3:5) did not prevent Shallum from getting his hands dirty and taking part in the building of the wall. He is not only socially a colleague of Rephaiah (Nehemiah 3:9), but also spiritually he has the same interest. He does not visit the parties with his colleague where good business can be done. They are not looking for better facilities in their own district. Together they are convinced that they serve their district best if they help to ensure the safety of the city of God.
A Christian who, as a highly educated official, is responsible for many disciplines, serves his business best if he is first and foremost committed to the city of God.
As a peculiarity it is mentioned that his daughters also help to build the wall. This is the only time we read of women helping. Women have their own task in the building, which cannot be done by men. There are women who serve the Lord with their goods (Luke 8:2-Leviticus :), who prophesy (Acts 21:9), who struggle in the gospel (Philippians 4:2-Leviticus :), who are servants of the church (Romans 16:1-Exodus :).
In addition to himself, Shallum does not consider his daughters too good to play their part in this heavy work. We do not read of anyone who is working together with his sons. The only time there is talk of someone working on the wall with his children is here.
There’s no indication of the age of these daughters. The impression is that they’re young women. There may be an application here. There are complaints here and there that there is not much youth. It is also not easy for a young believer to have no one in a local church in their own age group. For these daughters, however, the absence of other young people did not prevent them from helping their father with the building. If young people see their parents faithfully doing their part in rebuilding the wall around the city of God, they will join in.
If there is sincerity, the Lord will bless that faithfulness. It will attract others who also want to live with and for the Lord.
The Valley Gate – Hanun and the Inhabitants of Zanoah
The Valley Gate
We’re approaching the fourth gate, the Valley Gate. We have also looked at it before (Nehemiah 2:13-Ezra :). That gate has also been destroyed and must be rebuilt.
Spiritually speaking, the Valley Gate speaks of humility, humiliation, humbleness. If we are going to boast, the Valley Gate will be destroyed. That happens when we start using the things God has given us to make ourselves important. That’s what the people of Jerusalem have done, that’s what the church is doing now. In the church in Laodicea we find the spirit of pride in full (Revelation 3:15-Esther :). It is a representation of the spirit that is everywhere present in the church. The rebuilding of the Valley Gate can begin when we humble ourselves, both toward God and toward one another (1 Peter 5:5-Joshua :).
The third gate, the Old Gate, is reminiscent of what is from the beginning (Nehemiah 3:6). Rebuilding that gate is important. Equally important is that the rebuilding of the Valley Gate follows. If we think of God’s ideal (‘the Old Gate’), of how He wants the church to be, and we see how far we have deviated from that, it will bring us to the rebuilding of the Valley Gate. It will lead us to humble ourselves.
Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah
The Valley Gate is restored by Hanun, which means favored, and the inhabitants of Zanoah, which means rejected. In these names we find what is needed to restore the Valley Gate. We may be engaged in the awareness that we stand in the favor or grace of God (Romans 5:2). We are gifted or made pleasant in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).
When we realize something of the grace that has been given to us, there is no room for any boast of our own. We will not glory in our “arrogance”, which is called an evil boasting (James 4:16). We will not boast of our gifts while we are blind to the sin found in the church. That boasting is not good (1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 5:6). On the contrary, there will be besides the awareness of being gifted, also be the awareness that everything that is our own must be rejected by God. This does not only concern our sins and iniquities. We will see this for ourselves as well. But precisely all our righteous deeds “are like a filthy garment” (Isaiah 64:6).
These men are also building a large part of wall, no less than a thousand cubits. It is possible that the wall has not been torn down to the ground here and that more can be repaired in the same time than the time needed for other parts to be repaired from the ground.
The Refuse Gate – Malchijah
The Refuse Gate
The fifth in the row of gates is the Refuse Gate. Through this gate all the garbage of Jerusalem is brought out to the garbage dump in the valley of Hinnom. There it is burned.
From a spiritual point of view it is understandable that the Refuse Gate follows the Valley Gate. If we have to humble ourselves, it is accompanied by confession of sins. By confession, sins are removed and we are cleansed. We must “cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1). All filth must be removed from our lives.
The rebuilding of the Refuse Gate does not seem at first sight to be a pleasant occupation. It stinks there. Nevertheless, it is important that the Refuse Gate also starts to function again. This means that what does not belong in the city of God must be removed from it. We can apply this to our personal life as well as to our collective life.
The restorer of the Refuse Gate is called Malchijah, which means ‘king of (appointed by) Yahweh’. He is an official. Yet he is not ashamed to do this humble work. We build the Refuse Gate if we remove sin from our own lives. We build the Refuse Gate when we help our brother or sister remove sin from their lives (Matthew 18:15). We can only do this by identifying with him or her (Galatians 6:1). We build the Refuse Gate when we get rid of sin out of the church (1 Corinthians 5:13).
We only build the Refuse Gate in the right way if we look to the Lord Jesus and are at work in His mind. In the name of Malchijah we recognize the Lord Jesus, Who is not ashamed to do the least work, slave work (John 13:1-Esther :). Above all, we see that in Him when He takes our sins upon Himself on the cross and is made sin on our behalf. There He has received the judgment of the sins of everyone who believes, and so has removed them.
The Fountain Gate and Shallum
After the Valley Gate and the Refuse Gate follows immediately, as the sixth gate, the Fountain Gate. The restoration of this gate was undertaken by Shallum, in daily life official of the district of Mizpah. The usual, necessary work being done on it is mentioned again. But in connection with the restoration of this gate, some details are also mentioned. There is talk of “the wall of the Pool”, of “the king’s garden” and of “the steps that descend from the city of David”.
The Fountain Gate is reminiscent of water that rises in freshness from a fountain. This is reminiscent of what the Lord Jesus says in John 4 and John 7. There He speaks of a fountain of living water “springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14) and of “ rivers of living water” (John 7:37-Malachi :).
Just as in spiritual application there is a connection between the Valley Gate and the Refuse Gate, so there is also a connection between the Refuse Gate and the Fountain Gate. When the wrong has been removed from our lives, when we have cleansed ourselves of it by confession, there will be room to enjoy the living water. The Lord speaks about this with the woman at the well of Jacob (John 4:10). There will also be room for the Holy Spirit, Who fills our hearts with the glory of the Lord Jesus (John 7:39).
In order to ensure the supply of water, the pool must be protected. The connection with the fountain must be maintained. If the supply is hindered, the life of the inhabitants of the city will be over.
The pool is at the king’s garden. The water belongs to a garden, a court, which belongs to the king. This reminds us that drinking this water, which speaks of being busy with God’s Word, brings us into the presence of the Lord Jesus. To be with Him in the Spirit is the greatest joy for the believer.
If we have been in His presence like that, we may go down the steps of the city of David. What we have enjoyed we may share with others who live outside the city. In it we can see those who are believers but do not have an eye for the church of God as His city. In this way we will be a refreshment for other believers who, as it were, do not prefer to live in the city.
Nehemiah the Son of Azbuk
We come to Nehemiah the son of Azbuk. This man also controls an area in daily life. He is official of half the district of Beth-zur. Also in this verse some details are mentioned. With the part of the wall he builds, three places are connected: “the tombs of David”, “the artificial pool” and “the house of the mighty men”.
This Nehemiah ensures that “the tombs of David” – i.e. of David and his descendants (2 Chronicles 32:33) – are protected. As mentioned earlier (Nehemiah 2:3), when we think of a tomb in which God-fearing people are buried, we may think of the future. These believers have not received in their lives what God has promised. But they have died believing that God will fulfill His promises. This Nehemiah ensures, as it were, that this faith is preserved.
He also takes care of the protection of “the artificial pool”, possibly an extra water supply next to the waterworks mentioned in the previous verse. It is important to have sufficient water in reserve to be able to drink from it when the enemy lays siege to the city. Whoever learns biblical texts by heart will build such a pool. Sometimes you do not have a Bible at your disposal. Then it is life-saving to know the Word of God and to know a text that you can apply to the situation that arises.
Also “the house of the mighty men” needs to be protected. This has probably been a residence of the heroes of David. The memory of people who fought in faith for their king when he was still being persecuted should remain. Hebrews 11 is such a ‘house of the mighty men’. The believers introduced to us there form a “great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (Hebrews 12:1). Their example calls for imitation. Above all, we may look to the Hero, the Lord Jesus, Who has gone all the way before us in faith (Hebrews 12:1-Leviticus :).
Rehum – Hashabiah – Keilah – Bavvai
After the priests mentioned in Nehemiah 3:1, we now meet Levites. They too are busy helping to rebuild the wall. They work under the leadership of Rehum, the son of Bani. The usual service of the Levites is to help the priests with the sacrifices. For their usual work it is therefore important that Jerusalem as the city of the temple is well protected again.
Levite service in the spiritual sense takes place, among other things, when the believers are taught from the Word of God. The Lord Jesus should always be central to this. And if He is seen, it will make hearts happy and thankful. As a result, priestly service will be performed: believers will offer sacrifices of praise and thanks to God.
The officials who together have oversight over the whole area around Keilah are also present at the building work. Keilah did not show its best side in David’s time. It is a city “with double gates and bars” (1 Samuel 23:7) which is under heavy attack from the Philistines. Then David comes. He defeats the Philistines and liberates the inhabitants of the city. However, there is no gratitude. They are willing to deliver David to Saul (1 Samuel 23:12).
Hashabiah and Bavvai
Another spirit is found here with Hashabiah and Bavvai . With their part in the rebuilding, they ensure that Keilah also gets a positive mention in Scripture. This is how it can be in the life of a believer or a church. Things may have happened in the past that we are now ashamed of (cf. Romans 6:21). People who know us from the past may remind us of them. It is to be hoped that these people will also notice that we have changed by the grace of God.
On our way around the wall we arrived at Ezer. In the meaning of the name ‘Ezer’ the word ‘help’ is enclosed. Think of the stone Samuel sets up between Mizpah and Shen: He “named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us”“ (1 Samuel 7:12).
As Official of Mizpah, Ezer is not too dainty to be of help. His help consists of building the next part of the wall. This part of the wall is important from a tactical point of view. It is opposite the ascent of the armory. It seems that this part of the wall also forms a corner in the wall. This means that the armory has to be protected by the wall in two directions. A difficulty factor which Ezer does not avoid.
Building a corner is always more difficult than building a straight part of the wall. Protecting the armory is often more difficult than protecting other objects. The armory can be compared to the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-Proverbs :). If we leave the armor house unprotected, if we don’t put the armor on, we are defenseless.
A man who had to stay in an environment hostile to God told me that he put on the armor of God every morning. He did so by memorizing the armor (Ephesians 6:14-Job :) and reciting it every morning. In this way he protected the armory and therefore himself. He was able to repel the enemy’s attacks with the weapons God had given him.
We arrived at Baruch. His name means ‘blessed’. His special characteristic is that he is “zealously”, repairing. This extra mention indicates that his degree of zeal is special. The Spirit, in every mention of names, notes certain peculiarities, things which make some more striking than others.
There is, also in the work of the Lord, a distinction in quantity and quality. All the differences are due to causes which are not mentioned here, but which will become visible before the judgment seat of Christ. Behind all the deeds of men there are motives.
Meremoth is one who builds in front of the house of another, in front of the house of Eliashib the high priest (Nehemiah 3:1). He does this as an extra work, because he did restore another part of the wall first (Nehemiah 3:4). Eliashib helps to build the Sheep Gate (Nehemiah 3:1), but it seems that he neglects his own house. It is to Meremoth’s credit that he takes on a task that is actually for Eliashib himself. He does not say: ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ (Genesis 4:9). Instead, he makes an extra effort in favor of his failing brother. He makes an effort to do what the other is failing to do. This does not diminish Eliashib’s responsibility, especially since he is so prominent among the people.
It is to be wished that there are also men in the church who want to make extra effort for those who fail in their own family. It is necessary that such men have their own house in order. In 1 Timothy 3 are the conditions to be met by someone who aspires to be an overseer (1 Timothy 3:1-Judges :). The work of an overseer is called “a fine work” (1 Timothy 3:1). This fine work which the overseer aspires is nothing less than the keeping of God’s flock (Acts 20:28; cf. 1 Peter 5:1-Numbers :). It is a work because it requires an investment of energy.
The aspiration to be an overseer should not be to want to be something, but to want to do something. It is not extending to a position of authority, but to the task of a servant. Service is done for God (He is the commissioner) and to the church (cf. Ezra 7:10; Nehemiah 2:10).
The motive for this aspiration can be nothing more than surrender to and love for the Lord Jesus and the desire to serve Him in dependence and obedience.
Here we meet priests again (Nehemiah 3:1). Since Nehemiah 3:15 we are on the eastern side of the wall. If we look closely, we can already see the temple. It is as if, as we approach the temple, we meet more and more temple servants. We have already passed the Levites in Nehemiah 3:17. We have passed the house of the high priest. Now we are at priests again. In Nehemiah 3:26; Nehemiah 3:31 we will find more temple servants busy and in between, at the Horse Gate, another number of priests (Nehemiah 3:28).
The priests we find busy here, live in “the valley”, that is the Jordan Valley. It will have been a joy for them to be able to work so close to the temple. The prospect of being able to perform their service in the temple again will have encouraged them.
Benjamin and Hasshub – Azariah
Benjamin and Hasshub
This is the second time that people are building in front of their house. The names of these builders are Benjamin, which means ‘son of my right hand’ and Hasshub, which means ‘caring’, ‘concerned’. The right hand is the hand of strength and represents protection and guarding. What protects a house? How do we take care of what has been entrusted to us in our home (family)? When it comes to the material side, we can arrange all conceivable insurances for all kinds of calamities, such as fire and theft. We can implement all kinds of protective security measures, such as alarm systems and security services. However, none of this offers a certain level of protection.
But there are far worse enemies than those who can cause us material damage. These are the enemies who are constantly trying to harm us mentally. How can we protect ourselves from them? How do we erect a protective wall against them?
From Benjamin, the son of Jacob, we read that he will dwell by the LORD, and there he will live safely (Deuteronomy 33:12). Only God is our security. How rich is a house that finds its security in the protection of the Lord, where one trusts in the Almighty and knows himself secure in His arms. This is not about the certainty that sickness, poverty, suffering or death cannot affect our house, but that living with the Lord will always save us from evil, strife and fear.
If we no longer trust in the power of the Lord, that part of the wall will be in ruins. If we notice how our families are increasingly falling apart because the protection is gone, we must seek it again. The power of the Lord is always available to those who call upon it.
Azariah is busy “beside his house”. It seems that the part of the wall opposite his house is still intact. It is rather meaningless to start next to your house and leave the part in front of your house open. Azariah means ‘Yahweh has helped’. He is not satisfied with the fact that the wall in front of his house is still standing. He also wants the open part next to it to be closed. With the help of the LORD he excludes, as far as it depends on him, any risk that the enemy can even come near his house. It is important to keep the enemy as far away as possible.
Any interest in the enemy out of curiosity may give him the opportunity to attack. We shouldn’t give him that chance. Our interest should only be in the Lord Jesus and the things in which He is central. To the extent that we have to concern ourselves with the enemy as a task of the Lord, for example in order to be able to warn others of his wiles, we may count on the protection of the Lord.
Where Azariah has stopped, Binnui continues to build. He builds “as far as the Angle and as far as the corner”. The name Binnui means ‘someone who builds’. His father is Henadad, one of the returnees from Babylon (Ezra 3:9). His sons helped build the temple. Here we see a son helping to build the wall. His father gave him a name that has to do with building. It seems that Henadad is involved in everything that has to do with building for God. Binnui lives up to the name his father gave him.
What name do we give our children? I mean, what expectation do we have of them? If we seek for ourselves a position, honor and prestige in the world, we will wish the same for our children. In our minds we give them the name of a great scientist, of a famous athlete, of a celebrated musician or of any other celebrity. But if our interest is in God’s house and city, in the glory of God in all things, we will wish that it will be the same with our children. Then we will pray that they will be in the service of the Lord Jesus in His kingdom.
Palal – Pedaiah
Palal is busy near the king’s house on the side of “the court of the guard”. It is very likely that Jeremiah was locked up there (Jeremiah 32:2; Jeremiah 32:8Jeremiah 32:12; Jeremiah 33:1Jeremiah 37:21; Jeremiah 38:6Jeremiah 38:13; Jeremiah 38:28Jeremiah 39:14). He was locked up there because he warned about the coming of the king of Babylon. He also pointed out that surrender was the only possibility of salvation. But the king and his counselors did not want to hear about it. Jeremiah lost his freedom and Jerusalem was conquered and destroyed.
Maybe Palal is thinking about this when he is working on the wall at “the court of the guard”. His name means ‘judge’. A judge knows when the law has been broken and which punishment belongs to the transgression. He will agree that God has done justice by placing the guilty Jerusalem in the hands of the Babylonians. They have earned this judgment. Jeremiah is liberated, the people have been taken into captivity.
Will that not have made him a praying builder? We can imagine that he prayed: ‘Lord, give that your people will now faithfully serve you, listen to you, so that the city will not have to be destroyed again’. Such a prayer also suits us, who live in days in which the decay of the church increases hand over hand. If we can then experience restoration by God’s grace, we should never forget how much we have failed as a church.
Next to Palal, Pedaiah is busy. Pedaiah means ‘Yahweh redeemed’. This fits nicely with the ‘judge’. God is righteous when He judges, but He redeems those who bow under this judgment. Pedaiah represents someone who is conscious that he is redeemed to dedicate himself for the safety and security of all who are to the city of God.
The Temple Servants – the Water Gate
The temple servants
In between all the activity a remark is made about the temple servants. They live on the Ophel, a height just before the Water Gate on the south side of the temple. Temple servants, also called Nethinim, are always mentioned in plural. They are connected to the service in the temple. Their tasks lie on the terrain of all kinds of simple work. Most likely, they are descendants of the Gibeonites, who joined the people of God by deceit (John 9:3-Ezra :). Joshua curses them for this and determines that they will never cease to “being slaves, both hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God” (Joshua 9:23).
In connection with the name Pedaiah, we see how the LORD has delivered them from the curse. They have conformed to the judgment of Joshua and therefore the curse has become a blessing for them. The wall also serves to protect and preserve them for the service that has been imposed upon them.
The Water Gate
The Water Gate, the seventh gate mentioned in this chapter, is not part of the wall, but, like the Ophel, lies within the wall. It does not say that the Water Gate is being restored. However, it does say that the gate is on “the east” of the wall and close to “the projecting tower”.
At the Fountain Gate (Nehemiah 3:15) we have already seen that the water speaks of the Word of God (Ephesians 5:26). There the water is in action, a well which springs up. That is the Word which does its work and works (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Here the water also represents the Word of God, but more in its immutability. This is a clear application of the fact that the Water Gate does not need to be restored. Nothing needs to be improved on the Word. It remains eternally in all its perfection (Psalms 119:89; John 1:1; Revelation 19:13).
This gives hope for the future, of which the east side speaks. The east side is the side where the sun rises. When the Lord Jesus appears as “the Sun of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2), He will fulfill everything God has promised in His Word. It is as if “the projecting tower” emphasizes that. The watchman in that tower looks eastward to be the first to see the Sun of righteousness rise.
This group of builders was also mentioned earlier (Nehemiah 3:5). Here they are working on a second part. It is possible that the Tekoites have to do a second part because the notables find it beneath their dignity to help.
We can apply this to all the work that is done for the Lord. In the work for the Lord the burdens are sometimes divided unevenly because there are some who do not perform their task. In that case a great deal has to be done by the few. If each member fulfils his or her function (1 Corinthians 14:4-1 Kings :), no member is overburdened. Unfortunately, practice is different. Some believe that they can do nothing. They hide behind incompetence or no time. But the Lord has given every believer a task. Apologies are pretexts, not valid excuses, and in fact disobedience to the Lord.
The Horse Gate – the Priests
The Horse Gate
We’ve arrived at the eighth gate, the Horse Gate. The Horse Gate isn’t being repaired itself. It is mentioned as the starting point for a number of priests to rebuild the wall in front of their house. In almost all cases where the horse is mentioned in Scripture, they are war horses. The horse is praised for its fearlessness, speed, endurance, and strength. A wonderful description of it is given by the LORD Himself in His answer to Job (Job 39:22-Hosea :).
The mentioned characteristics of the horse are necessary to persevere in building. The end of the wall comes in sight. Sometimes the view at the end can give an extra boost of energy. We think about what already has been done and do everything we can to finish the work. Sometimes the last part can become just too much. If we measure the work still to be done by our strengths, we can become discouraged (Nehemiah 4:10).
If we are in danger of becoming discouraged, it is important to remember that for the qualities mentioned, we should not rely on ourselves or a creature, but on the Lord. In some psalms the great power of the horse is mentioned to remind us of the greater power of God (Psalms 20:8; Psalms 33:17Psalms 76:7). If we call upon Him, He will give us the strength and endurance to achieve victory and reach the end goal.
More than anything else, this applies to the priestly service. In Christianity there is the confession of the general priesthood, but often not its practice. How important is it to hold on to this truth, which is so important to God, and to put it into practice. God wants us to praise Him continually – and not just occasionally (Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 2:5).
It is possible that the impediment to perform this priestly service is caused by the absence of the walls in front of the priests’ houses. By giving up the separation of the world – tearing down the wall – much has penetrated into the families of the believers, which does not exactly encourage priestly service. How many hours are they watching TV or surfing the internet or spending on social media? And when people are watching and surfing, what do they see?
Let believing men and women, for they are both priests, inspect the walls in front of their homes. By not being vigilant, have thoughts entered the heart and changed the view of the Bible or the Lord Jesus? With honest self-examination it will then be established that the priestly service before God has diminished, the worship of the Father has disappeared and the dedication to the Lord is hardly present anymore.
Let the Horse Gate come within sight again. Seek the power of the Lord to resume the building of the wall. Listen to the encouragement of Nehemiah: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses” (Nehemiah 4:14).
Zadok – Shemaiah and the East Gate
Zadok is also busy in front of his house. Zadok means, among other things, ‘sincere’, ‘honest’. Has the wall of sincerity been knocked down around our house? Are we honest in our dealings with others? When we’re married, let’s apply this to our marriage. Do we remember our promise of faithfulness to each other on our wedding day? Have we remained faithful and honest? Does this also apply to the desire for our partner’s companionship that must be greater than that of anyone else in the world? Or do we covet the company of someone whose wife or husband we say, “He suits me better, is more sympathetic to me than my own”? The sacred wall of honesty then lies in ruins and must be rebuilt.
Perhaps the husband should confess to his wife or the wife to her husband that dishonesty has come into his thoughts or perhaps even into practice. The debris must be cleared away before it can be rebuilt.
Zadok is the son of Immer, which means ‘talkative’. There is no part of the body that damages so much as the tongue. The wall of honesty often becomes a mess because of the talkativeness. To be critical on each other, on the brothers and sisters, bring down the wall. How do we talk about each other and with each other? Maybe we should confess this, also to the children who have heard how we have talked about our brothers and sisters.
Shemaiah and the East Gate
We’ve arrived at Shemaiah. It is mentioned of him that he is “the keeper of the East Gate”. The East Gate, the ninth gate in this chapter, is a special gate. Through that gate the glory of the LORD left the temple and Jerusalem (Ezekiel 10:18-Psalms :; Ezekiel 11:23). Because of the sins of Jerusalem God’s glory could no longer dwell there. But He did not leave to stay away forever. The prophet Ezekiel sees in a vision the glory of the LORD returning in the new temple (Ezekiel 43:4).
This great perspective is connected with the name of Shemaiah. His name means ‘Yahweh hears’. No matter how much God’s people are in decay, no matter how much God’s visible glory has had to retreat into heaven, there comes a moment when He returns. Faith cries out, ‘How long, LORD? It seems to have been for so long. But God listens to the cries of His people. The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” (Revelation 22:17). The Lord Jesus answers: “Yes, I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22:20).
Hananiah and Hanun – Meshullam
Hananiah and Hanun
We don’t know much more about these builders than their names. There’s a connection in their names. Hananiah means ‘Yahweh has favored’ and Hanun means ‘favored’. Of Hanun one particularity is mentioned: he is the sixth son.
Six is the number of man (Revelation 13:18) and his work (Exodus 20:9). Everything that man is and does bears the stamp of sin and weakness. Man is a creature favored by God. By choosing sin, man has cut himself loose from God. In his pride he boasts of his qualities. It is therefore foolish to hold that man high and trust him on the day of the visitation (Isaiah 2:22).
But every ‘Hanun’ can become a ‘Hananiah’. He who acknowledges his sinfulness, pride and rebellion against God receives forgiveness of sins. He may see in the work of the Lord Jesus, Who as Man has answered perfectly to what God asks of man. He, as Man, has borne the sins of all who believe in Him. Whoever accepts in faith that He has also done it for him, comes into the favor of God (Romans 5:2).
Through repentance to God, the connection with God is restored. By faith in the Lord Jesus, someone in Him is made pleasant to God (Ephesians 1:6). This is the true grace (or favor) in which one must stand (1 Peter 5:12). ‘Hananiah’ and ‘Hanun’ are united. ‘Hanun’ can truly fulfill the purpose for which God created him, that is to serve Him. Together with ‘Hananiah’ he can be used to build the wall.
Meshullam first helped restore another part of the wall (Nehemiah 3:4), but he does not neglect “his own quarters” or ‘“cell” as it also can be translated, his own living space. Meshullam may live alone in a cell. The application is obvious. Many young people leave the parental home to study in another city. They go and live on their own. They are responsible for the decoration of their cell and their behavior in it. They go and live on their own. They are responsible for the decoration of their cell and their behavior in it. Does it breathe the Christian atmosphere or do they see an opportunity to cleanly throw all the biblical values and norms of home overboard? Many young people have demolished the wall behind which they have been safe at home.
With Meshullam it is different. Although he has his own cell as his home, his life is a testimony of complete surrender. As a result, he lives in a sacred atmosphere. His name means ‘surrendered’. He is the son of Berechiah, which means ‘Yahweh blesses’. He who lives in surrender to the Lord is blessed by Him. The blessing of the Lord does not depend on whether my house is large or small, whether the work is impressive or insignificant, but whether everything is used and done in submission to Him. The blessing then comes from the Lord, “who makes rich” (Proverbs 10:22).
We all build on the wall. No one should think he is too small. The smallest hole in the wall is in danger of being penetrated by the enemy. If we allow a hole to form or exist, the whole church is in danger.
Malchijah – the Inspection Gate
Just a little bit more and the tour around the wall is complete. We stop for a moment at Malchijah, a goldsmith. Malchijah means ‘Yahweh is King’. He knows the value of precious metals. To protect the material and the profession, he helps to build the wall.
Furthermore, his work is connected to “the house of the temple servants and of the merchants”. He has an eye for the work that the “temple servants” do. However humble it may be, it is important that this work can be done. By building the wall he makes sure that the enemy cannot enter the city through their house. A temple servant can underestimate his work so much, that he tries to get some prestige through other channels. But if the temple servant is connected to ‘Malchijah’ and lives by the meaning of that name and does his work, the enemy will not succeed in getting into the city of God through him. The wall is well built there.
Also “merchants” can only trade well if they do so in accordance with the rules that apply in the city. It is difficult, but not impossible, to do business honestly. The enemy has made special provision for businessmen to influence the life in the city of God. But on the businessman associated with ‘Malchijah’, who lives and acts according to the meaning of that name, he will not get a grip. The wall there is well built.
The Inspection Gate
The Inspection Gate is the tenth gate mentioned in this chapter. The work is almost done. It is not unusual at the end of a work, at the end of a year, at the end of a life to look back at that work, that year, that life. From a spiritual point of view it is important to look back regularly. Later we often see better how we have worked than in the time of that work itself.
At the end of his life Paul draws up the balance sheet. When the time of his departure has come, he can say: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6-Judges :). At the same time, he knows that the final ‘inspection’ will be done by the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:1-Deuteronomy :), when we will all be revealed “before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
That ‘inspection’ before the judgment seat takes place in “the upper room”, in heaven. But also on earth we already find an ‘upper room’, a place of fellowship with the Lord Jesus. There the Lord Jesus is with His disciples to celebrate the Passover with them (Luke 22:12). On that occasion He instituted Supper, which we are still allowed to celebrate every Sunday. Then we think of Him and His work of redemption on the cross. We proclaim His death. But we cannot do this without judging ourselves, investigating, ‘inspecting’ (1 Corinthians 11:28). If we discover that there is something of sin in our lives, we must first condemn it. We have to confess it to God, and if people are involved we have to confess it to them as well.
After the ascension of the Lord Jesus, the disciples are back in the upper room (Acts 1:13). There they wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. ‘Inspection’ of the Word makes it clear that the event with Judas is foretold in Scripture (Acts 1:16). Scripture also tells the ‘examiners’ that someone else must take the place of Judas (Acts 1:20). Examination of the Word shows what must happen until the promise is fulfilled. More than ever we can apply this to the promise of the coming of the Lord Jesus.
Goldsmiths and Merchants – the Sheep Gate
Goldsmiths and merchants
In this verse no name or names are mentioned, but two professions: goldsmiths and merchants. They make sure that the last hole in the wall is closed and the wall forms one whole. The goldsmiths work with precious metal. They work very precisely. The result of their work is always admired. Merchants work in such a way that they get the greatest return from a business.
When rebuilding the wall, it is important to work accurately to the end. In order to persevere in rebuilding the wall, it is necessary to recognize the value of this work. It is also important to work in such a way that it yields the greatest profit for the Lord Jesus. He has given each of His own talents, with the task: “Do business until I come back” (Luke 19:13).
The parable of the pounds (Luke 19:11-Daniel :) and of the talents (Matthew 25:14-Amos :) deal with what the Lord has entrusted to us during His absence on earth. On His return, He will ask us what we have done with it. Has our life brought profit to Him?
The Sheep Gate
After the walk along the wall around the city we’re back at the Sheep Gate, where we started in Nehemiah 3:1. The Sheep Gate reminds us of the Lord Jesus as the door of the sheep and he reminds us of Him as the good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep (John 10:11). In this way He will be with us forever. Forever and ever we will worship Him for that.