Our Open Gate

By David Stahl

If you ever visit the Old City of Jerusalem and you want to enter inside the city you will have to enter through one of eight gates.  It may be through the Dung Gate (you can guess why it was called the Dung Gate) one not so popular today, but was very busy in the days of Jesus  or it may be through; the Lion Gate, the Jaffa Gate, the Kings Gate or one of four other gates.  Now there is a ninth, but it is purposely  closed.  It has been closed since the Ottoman Turks walled it up in 1530 AD. The ninth gate, the Eastern Gate, is blocked up and shut up waiting for the arrival of the Messiah, but at the time of Jesus the Eastern Gate was wide open and often was the busiest gate for commerce and transportation.   You see not only were the gates of Jerusalem places of entrances and exits in and out of the Old City, but they were also places of authoritative decisions. The “elders” sat in the gates and made decisions that affected the city.  We can see this in Proverbs when Solomon is talking of the virtuous woman, “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.”  (Proverbs 31:23). Important agreements and commercial transactions were also made in the gates,  but did you know our bodies also have gates through which truth and error, good and evil, enter into and exit our lives. We too are “elders” at our own gates and must make wise and responsible decisions for our lives.  We have the ear gate, an eye gate, a mind gate, a feelings gate, a memory gate, a relationship gate, and a spirit gate. The enemy (used as a general term and not always the devil) of our soul is to be kept out and only that which has been carefully screened and deemed safe or good is permitted to enter. We must guard these gates lest an enemy try to penetrate our defenses. We must monitor our gates diligently to allow only that which is edifying into our lives. Gates all throughout the Bible have been a place of decision more than they have been a portal to enter into a city. We can go in and out of a city, but it is the decisions that we make will foretell our success or failure in life and in God.  These narrow, limited, and restrictive decisions of life we make that leads us to purpose and completion in life and in God.  Most church denominations teach we are to be free, no chains, great liberty in God, but my friend that is not what Jesus taught. Did you know you cannot come to purpose in life if you have not found your purpose in God?  Oh you may make a bunch of money, have a trophy wife, have a big house and fancy car, a good job, but all of this will never bring you to purpose in God.  Some of the most successful people in God like Mother Theresa have lost their lives so that others might find theirs.  Did you know Mother Theresa was known as the “Saint of the Gutters?”  Now many people today want to identify with the word “Saint” millions, but not too many people want to identify with the word “Gutters.” I believe Mother Theresa was one of the richest persons in the world even though she had no money to call her own. Did you know you must die to be called a “Saint.” It is when we lose our life for the sake of Christ we shall find it.  My friend purpose is only found in losing our lives for Christ’s sake so other may find theirs. Jesus taught the disciples, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25  He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”  (John 12:24-25)  Please notice “losing it” comes first and “keeping it” comes second. The condition to be fruitful in God is to die and abide alone not liberty and freedom to do what we want to do.  I wonder why we have missed this critical truth today?  Well that is easy no one want to die to their selfish, self-seeking ways it is easier to go and do things for God than become something in God.  They say we cannot save our self and others too, one must die.  This is what Jesus was teaching the disciples and make no mistake my friend they all died (some a horrible death) spreading the Gospel message so that others  like us may live. Now Jesus was not talking about going to heaven, but He was talking about entering into the life that God has for us now here on earth.  In Matthew we read,  “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14)  The word “strait”  here has nothing to do with direction, but with confinement. The word “strait,” Strong’s #4728, means narrow from obstacles standing close about.  Jesus was saying we enter into the life of God through the hard, narrow, restrictive  decisions in our lives.  Truth as a mirror reveals our heart and we choose a path to walk either towards God or away from God. We decide to be limited and restricted in areas of our lives that will bring us to completion and purpose.  Jesus continues, “For wide (the unrestrictive, unlimited, and open way) (notice not the narrow or “strait” way, but the broad way) is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction.” In God you cannot do what you want to do and say what you want to say and come to purpose and completion. This is the broad way, the wide gate (or wide decision ) that leads to destruction and Jesus said, “and many there be which go in thereat.”  Now they are not going into the life of God as some misguided teachers teach, but they are going into destruction.  And also notice Jesus did not say they were going to hell, destruction is not hell, but we can end up in hell (and we can have hell on earth in our relationships and our lives) if we do not enter into the narrow way of walking with the LORD in the way He wants us to go. This gate topic is a huge deal in our lives.  As we look closer at this topic we learn the open gate is really our heart. In Proverbs we read an important verse and if applied correctly would change our lives forever.  Solomon writes, For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.” (Proverbs 23:7)  In the Greek text this verse is translated as, “For as a gate open wide so is he.”  Our heart is the gate in which life’s decisions pass through and whatsoever we open our gate (our heart) to we will become that.  If we open our heart to hatred, strife, and division we will become that and we will know it because out of our mouth speaks our heart.  But if we open our heart as it swings wide open to love, joy, peace, and etc. then we will become that. We become what we open our heart to.  In Matthew that is what Jesus was saying, “ Enter ye in at the strait gate:”  Another name for the “Eastern Gate (the ninth gate of the Old City that is closed awaiting the triumphant return of the Messiah in victory, but was open in Jesus’ time) often is called the Strait Gate.  Jesus knew of this gate because it was the gate in 30 AD where He entered Jerusalem before His crucifixion and He knew it was straight from the gate to  the temple in the shortest amount of time. Jesus knew of the Old Testament passage and also knew death comes before glorification,  And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east.5  So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.”  (Ezekiel 43:4-5)  The Word of God is full of examples of the critical importance to our gate.  In Psalms David said,  “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door (Strong’s #1802, leaf, lid, gate) of my lips”  (Psalms 141:3).  This is  one verse we drilled into the lives of our children.  In the Book of Revelation  Jesus says,  “Behold, I stand at the door (Strong’s  #2374, portal or gate) and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  (Revelations 3:20)  Here Jesus is knocking on our heart (gate) trying to get our attention so we will open wide our heart to Him.  Again whatsoever we open wide our gate (our heart) to we will  become that and make no mistake there we will find our treasures.  Let us take heed to what we open wide our gate if not our lives will be filled with sorrow, despair, and destruction is behind the door.