In this article I am going to discuss the spiritual importance, function and responsibilities of “gates and walls.” The book of Nehemiah presents a model of how a person, family, church or nation’s name, ministry, security and identity are compromised or even destroyed if the “gates and walls” are not protected, maintained and operated at maximum efficiency.
According to Dr. Ronald E. Cottle in his book Studies in Nehemiah, “the task of Nehemiah was to rebuild the gates. He also built the wall, but he did so to sustain the gates. The gates provided the continual functions of life in the city. One entered and exited through the gates. Commerce occurred with the gates as a focal point. The leaders of the city made judicial decisions at the gates (Deut. 16:18; 17;8; 21:19; 25:6,7). At the gates prophets also frequently delivered their messages (Prov. 1:21;8:3; Isaiah 29:21; Jer.17:19, 20; 26:10). Nehemiah wanted to restore the gates, thereby, restoring a government for the people of God” (Pg 17).
Now let us take a look at how gates relate to government and leadership:
“Gates are the place of controlled access. Sit in the gate of your family. Sit in the gate of your thought life. Sit in the gate of your heart. Sit in the gate of your city. Sit in the gate of your church. Control what comes and goes according to Scripture. The Psalmist says in 69:12, ‘They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards.’ The people who sat in the gate were the elders of the city. They were the ones who made governmental decisions and granted authority. Everyone was welcome to attend the meeting of these leaders at the gate” (Cottle 114).
As senior pastor of this ministry and church I am responsible before God for what I allow to be taught in this ministry or in this church fellowship from my assistant pastors, my local intercessors, etc. They do not teach what I do not approve of unless they are a person who is either naïve, immature, very impatient or an “Absolom” (one who is outright rebellious with aspirations of assuming inappropriate attention, glory and leadership). If one thinks something is in error and they want to correct it, their responsibility is to come to me privately and convince me. I ministered for eight years in Africa under the authority of an apostle even though I too was ministering in the office of an apostle/prophet. My responsibility was to faithfully represent God and the authority He placed over me. We would gather every 3 months for leaders meetings and I would sometimes differ with his teachings yet I would not attempt to correct him in public, for the Scriptures instruct that I am supposed to go to my brother or sister privately if I have ought against him/her (Matt 18:15-35). I did not want to embarrass him or cause him to loose respect neither did I want to usurp his position or authority for I was placed in this position to enhance and support his leadership. I knew God had placed me under him not only to help him but also that I might learn, grow and mature. Moreover, I recognized that I did not yet fully understand the totality of truth, so I needed to come to my leader humbly and amenably as Scripture admonishes. When we join together in Christ, we can reason together and grow in understanding of the Truth. Sometimes I was correct, at other times I was not. If an assistant pastor, an intercessor etc., cannot follow God’s protocol for church order but insists on violating established hierarchy they will be dismissed. There are lines of control and authority placed on earth by God for checks and balances, and for protection.
1 Peter 5:5 reads, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
A violation of protocol is extremely dangerous not only to the person themself but to the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 5:6-7, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump…” Please read 1 Samuel 13:4-14 and chapter 15.
1 Samuel 15:23, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”
Saul got himself into deep trouble with God because of his self righteousness, impatience and lack of humility. He not only continued to defy Samuel’s instructions but he gave excuses and lies to try and exonerate himself by putting the blame on the circumstances, on Samuel or on the people. God did not accept any of Saul’s excuses but instead lifted the anointing from him and gave it to another. The heart of Saul’s disobedience was his arrogance. Saul did not want to be under the authority and the control of Samuel. God is a God of order and control. Saul did not want to be under godly control; he wanted to be in control himself. People often do not want to come under godly control and order, choosing instead to be in control of their own “carnal” lives.
Gates are controlled access. Yes, there is Godly control established in this world by God to protect people. There are lines of control in the nation, church, home and places of employment. Without control there is sabotage, conspiracy, rebellion and destruction. Godly parents are the gates for the protection of their children and they are supposed to control what influences their children’s lives. When an immature, rebellious child does not want to have godly control exercised over him/her for personal development and instead they want to be a wild horse or ass and insist on their own way, they run away or sometimes move out. When members of a congregation do not want to be developed in the ways of God, which means being discipled, corrected, instructed etc., the person runs away from the church or stays at arms length because they want to be left alone in their stubbornness. If they leave a God-ordained church that is operating in correct teaching and order, they complain that there is too much control. However, the reality is that the person wants to be in control of their own life rather than allowing God to use His servants to bring them under Kingdom order and thus allowing God finally to be in control of their lives. Yes, the struggle is perpetually man’s will against God’s will. This is the constant struggle for all Christians to one degree or another throughout their earthly lives. I demand that my assistant pastors and intercessors submit to proper protocol not because it is my personal leadership, but because it is God’s leadership. Without me being responsible to control the gates of what is allowed to govern the people instead of a healthy nurturing of God’s people, there will be leaven and constant anarchy brewing until confusion, frustration and separation result.
Dr. Cottle elaborates on this issue, “You can open and shut gates depending on what is coming in or going out. Proverbs 23:7 says, ‘For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…’ The word thinketh is our word shaar. In Hebrew the word heart includes the mind. So you can open up the gates of your mind or close the shaar of your mind. What you set your mind on will come through the gate of your heart and set your character. You have control over what you allow through your gates” (113). The Bible tells us to be “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ...” (2 Cor 10:5).
In Genesis 19:1 we read, “And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground.”
Now, remember the function of the gates. They were places where decisions were made concerning cultures, values and beliefs. The governmental decisions were made here. Apparently Lot, was giving his approval to all the homosexual activity, all the immorality and lifestyle of the people of Sodom. We must all remember that God will hold parents responsible for the laxity; the irresponsible freedoms and latitudes they give their children. God will hold husbands responsible for the Ahab mentality, in which he allows his wife to become a Jezebel and make decisions contrary to the Word of God and conspire, complain and gossip against servants of God. God will hold wives responsible if they go along with the immoral and/or amoral decisions of the husband instead of being faithful to God and refusing to comply with those decisions. God will hold nations responsible for not enforcing the standards of morality and loyalty to Jesus Christ. He will hold church ministers responsible for not sounding the alarm or raising their voices against the culture’s steady decline of morality and fostering of idolatry (religions, cults, humanism etc.). Again, we are the gates where thoughts, decisions and judgments are initiated or rebuffed, corrected and rebuked.
Dr. Ronald E. Cottle states, “Gates are the place of controlled access. Sit in the gates of your family. Sit in the gate of your thought life. Sit in the gate of your heart. Sit in the gate of your city. Sit in the gate of your church. Control what comes and goes according to Scripture…If we build the gates, God will secure the walls. The gates represent three things for which we are responsible. First, these are controlled access: we are guardians and protectors of our cities, homes, churches and families. Secondly, gates represent government and authority: we must exercise authority over the spiritual quality of our cities, homes, churches, families and heart. Finally, gates represent business and pleasure centers of the city. These are social functions which must be ordered and influenced by the church. Social exchange is necessary for all of us. If we do not provide it, the world will” (114-116).
Nehemiah 1:3-5 reads, “And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven. And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments.”
Notice what Nehemiah did! He cared enough about the kingdom of God to get involved. He listened and watched how the people of God and the name of God had become a “reproach,” a source of ridicule and contempt. This shame was happening because the gates of Jerusalem were burned down and the walls were broken, thus allowing the enemies of God to plunder and torment the people living in Jerusalem.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in America the “Jesus gates” have been burned down in the nation and in the church. Consequently, every sort of immoral and amoral evil is constantly being imagined and practiced in the spirit, soul, and body of man.
Man is a tripartite being. Man is a spirit with a soul in a body. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 reads, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When Adam directly disobeyed the known word of God and sought knowledge (forbidden knowledge and power, - self reliance) then death started, both spiritually and physically, in the human race. With spiritual death, Adam and Eve did not enjoy constant fellowship with God but instead were separated from God. In physical death, the aging process began with all the ramifications of the impurities in the blood which results in diseases and eventually physical death.
Zechariah 12:1 reads, “The burden of the Word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.”
As Dr. Dwayne Lusk states in the Syllabus and Study Guide for the class Spirit, Soul And Body, “Eth-the forming of the spirit of man, does not refer to the creation of the spirits of men once and for all, but denotes the continuous, creative formation and guidance of the human spirit by the spirit of God”. (Christian Life School of Theology, BT825, 2)
“A. Spirit-the part that makes us God-conscious. The highest part by which alone we apprehend and worship God.”
“B. Soul—the part that makes us self-conscious. The seat of desires, affections, emotions, and passions. Gives us intellect which aids us in the present state of existence, and the emotions which proceed from the senses.”
“C. Body—the part that is world-conscious. Gives us the use of the five senses, i.e., sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing.” (2)
Man is a spirit person, “made in the image of God.” When man rebelled what I call his “God Fellowship Spirit” died. It is the Holy Spirit that makes it possible for you and I to have constant fellowship with God. Man’s human spirit is now severed from God. Although the human spirit is “dead” to God, and alienated from Him, it still remains full of activity. This is where some people are called “spiritual” because they are more open to seeking intercourse with the spirit world apart from the Holy Spirit thus becoming “mediums” and “witches” capable of exercising occult powers, such as clairvoyance, astral projection, etc. The soul of man cannot please God. It is out of the soul of man that religion, secular psychology, philosophy, atheism, hypnotism, psychic forces, humanism etc., originate. Since man is a spirit being, if he is not “born again,” he opens himself up to evil spirits which influence him. It is out of the soul of man where all thoughts are self centered and all actions and re-actions result from emotions, passions, feelings and desires. The things of God are spiritually discerned and thus sound foolish to man unless man’s spirit is “born again”. The soul man cannot discern the “things of the Spirit” because he relies on his intellect and emotions. Men who are not “born again” or are carnal (immature) Christians are classified as “soul men.” It is the spirit part of man that must be “born again” and the soul part of man which must be continually saved (sanctified). Men and women of God, we need to “transform our mind with the word of God.” (Romans 12:2). We as Christians need a transformed mind to discern the difference between soul and spirit. If our mind is not renewed, we constantly are being led astray by people’s philosophies, theories, religions and doctrines of demons. People start to rely on their “psychic power” which is not from the Holy Spirit but belongs entirely to their fallen nature.
Religious men who are “soul men” place Christianity, Islam, Buddism, Jesus Christ, Muhammed, Budda etc., on the same playing field. There is no distinction between the real God and other man-made religions and gods (idolatry).
Jessie Penn-Lewis in Soul & Spirit, defines three classes of Christians.
1. “The spiritual man - dominated by the Spirit of God, indwelling and energizing his renewed human spirit.
2. “The soulish man - dominated by the soul, i.e., by the intellect or emotions.
3. “The carnal man - dominated by the flesh, in fleshly habits or desires, i.e., the power of the flesh.” (22)
Within the spirit of man lies communion, conscience and intuition. Within the soul of man lies the will, reasoning and emotions. Within the body of man is blood, bones and flesh. It is time to rebuild the gates of the church with the inspired Scriptures so our will can serve Jesus Christ, and the shame that the church is suffering from, its own ineptitude, can be reversed to see God’s glory.
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