My first blog on this topic, The Symbolism of the Ten Gates of Ancient Jerusalem - Part 1 , discussed the third chapter of Nehemiah. This chapter tells how Nehemiah rebuilt the ten gates and the walls of ancient Jerusalem that were destroyed by the Babylonians.
The description of the rebuilding of the ten gates is also a symbolic representation of the ten stages in the lives of Christians.
In Part 1, I wrote that the first gate, the Sheep Gate, represented Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of God. Passing through this gate symbolizes accepting Jesus as our savior who died on the cross for our sins. The second gate is the Fish Gate. This gate stands for the second stage of Christianity, whereby we become “fishers of men” and tell others about our faith in Jesus.
Now, let’s continue with the next gate that was rebuilt by Nehemiah -the Old Gate.
“Moreover the old gate repaired Jehoiada the son of Paseah, and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah; ... “ (Neh 3:6 KJV)
There are two theories why this gate was called the Old Gate. It might have separated old Jerusalem from the suburb of Bezetha, which was called “New Town”. Another theory is that it once belonged to the very ancient city of Salem, first built by Melchizedek.
Regardless of where the name came from, this gate represents the third stage in a Christian’s life.
After accepting Jesus and telling others about our faith in Him, we need to learn the “old paths”:
“Thus says the LORD, Stand you in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it, and you shall find rest for your souls. ...” (Jeremiah 6:16 KJ 2000)
A Christian can find the “old paths” and “the good way” in only one place - the Word of God. It is at this time that we need to become students of the Bible and begin to learn what it says to us. If we are going to follow the example and teachings of Jesus, we need to know what He said and did. Makes sense, right?
It is possible that the phrase “ask for the old paths” infers that at this stage we should also become active in a church with other believers, and together learn about the Word of God. We must remember that up until about the 15th century, ordinary Christians did not own a Bible. Bibles were very expensive and not translated for the common man. The church was where you learned about the Word of God.
The fourth gate that was rebuilt was the Valley Gate. In the Bible, a valley can symbolize sorrow, trials, and humbling experiences. By looking at the diagram, you will see that there is a long distance between the Valley Gate and the gates before it and after it. Often there is a "honeymoon time" at the beginning of our Christian lives, and then a period of suffering and trials than can continue for a long time. This stage, however, must be passed through in order to reach the next stage.
“... In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
We may not enjoy traveling through the valley, but it is a necessary part of our journey.
“Not only so, but wec also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4 NIV)
I hope you will stick with me in this series. Part 3 will begin with the Dung Gate.