There are many famous gates in the world built to celebrate military victories or to proclaim national prestige. Obvious ones include the Brandenburg Gate, the Golden Gate (known as the Gate of Mercy in Jerusalem) and Napoleon’s Arc de Triomphe at 49.5 metres high. Not to be outdone by France, North Korea’s Pyongyang's Arch of Triumph finished in 1982 is three metres taller! However, at 54 metres high, the Buland Darwaza built in 1576 AD by Mughal Emperor Akbar is the highest gateway in the world. The pictured gate makes no pretences or grand claims but is simply evocative of ‘secret gardens’ and of things that are beyond. Every gate is there for a reason but not every gate is noticed nor is the reason for it being there always understood.
- ‘Still round the corner there may wait a new road or a secret gate’ – J R R Tolkien
- ‘If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody’ – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- ‘My life choices are not supposed to be the gateway to somebody else's. That's my journey’ – Drew Barrymore
The gate to a city was historically a very important place. It would be set in a fortified wall and would be vital for the security of the city. To be a Gatekeeper was an official paid role, opening at the start of the day for the bustle of traders and closing at sundown to secure the citizens. Gates were often given names for they were meeting places, symbolising authority, used for observation, for giving announcements and by those in power to watch their soldiers march past on formal occasions. So you might have ‘Fountain Gate, ‘Sheep Gate’, Valley Gate, ‘Fish Gate’, ‘Royal Gate’ or ‘Dung Gate’ for a few evocative examples.
- ‘Gates are set before us in life but the challenge is knowing which ones to pass through’ - Anonymous
- ‘The key to heaven's gate cannot be duplicated’ – Douglas Horton
- ‘No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief’ – John Calvin
The Golden Gate in the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount is thought to be the gate through which Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey that first Palm Sunday. Originally built by Solomon, it was closed in 810, reopened in 1102 by the Crusaders and was walled up by Saladin after regaining Jerusalem in 1187. Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt it together with the city walls, but walled it up in 1541 and it stayed that way. Many Christians’ understanding from the Bible is that the Lord Jesus Christ will once more pass through this gate when he returns.
- ‘Then the man brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, the one facing east, and it was shut. The Lord said to me, “This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it. The prince himself is the only one who may sit inside the gateway to eat in the presence of the Lord. He is to enter by way of the portico of the gateway and go out the same way”’ – Ezekiel 44:1-3
- ‘Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – he is the King of glory’ – Psalm 24:9-10
- ‘Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones’ – Isaiah 62:10
- ‘The Gateway to Christianity is not through an intricate labyrinth of dogma, but by a simple belief in the person of Christ’ - Norman Vincent Peale
- ‘Humility is the gateway into the grace and the favour of God’ – Harold Warner
Psalm 1 has been described as ‘the gateway to the rest of the Psalms’. True enough, in a condensed form, it contains the highs and lows of life and the blessings of walking with God. Gates feature quite often in the Psalms:
- ‘Lord, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death, that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation’ – Psalm 9:13-14
- ‘Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name’ – Psalm 100:3-4
- ‘Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes’ – Psalm 118:19-23
- ‘He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat’ – Psalm 147:13-14
What gates have you passed by in life and which have you passed through? Are you a wise ‘body and soul’ gatekeeper for what you allow or invite in will affect and shape you in more ways than one! Jesus made some extraordinary claims about himself, none more so than this recorded by John:
- ‘Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out’ – John 10:1-3
- ‘I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture’ – John 10:9
Many have either not noticed this gate or have shown a distinct lack of interest to their great loss. Consider these four last gates and you’ll notice one stands out from the rest:
- ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it’ – Matthew 7:13-14
- ‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city’ – Revelation 22:14
- ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me’ – Revelation 3:20
This final gate stands apart for it is one we can all choose to open for an eternally different outcome as famously depicted by the artist by William Holman Hunt in 1851 – as has often been said, ‘the handle is on the inside’! What lies beyond the gate for you?!
TAGS – choice, future, hope, perspective, light, heaven, hell