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Thursday, June 23 2011
The Strait Gate
The Old City of Jerusalem has numerous gates - some very ancient, others relatively modern (only a few centuries old). Each were given a name, or names, to signify something about them, whether a utility or commercial purpose (e.g. the Fish Gate, the Dung Gate) or a destination (e.g. the Jaffa Gate, on the west side, facing Jaffa, or the Damascus Gate, on the north side, facing Damascus).
One of most well-known and oldest existing gates is the Mercy Gate (see also Christ's Mercy Seat), as it is generally known to Jews. In other times, it was known as the Beautiful Gate, and thereafter as the Golden Gate by later Christian-professing people. It is also known as the Eastern Gate, in reference to its location, on the eastern wall, at the center of the eastern side of the Temple Mount, facing the Mount of Olives (see the Fact Finder question below).
The Jewish belief is that the Messiah (see Israelite Monarchy - The Messiah) will enter Jerusalem / the Temple through the Mercy Gate (usually referring to Ezekiel 44:1-3), which although they didn't recognize Him, has already been partially fulfilled. The Messiah's "triumphal entry" into the city and His clearing the Temple area of the peddlers and money changers was logically through that direct gate:
"19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 19:42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 19:43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 19:44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation [in referring to that Temple, see What Did Jesus Christ Say About Those Stones?].
The photograph below shows the Mercy Gate, or Golden Gate, as it appears in modern times. The gate is now sealed, as it has been since Muslims under Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) blocked it in 1541 with the specific intent to prevent the "Jewish" Messiah's entrance (they also built a cemetery in front of it). They, like most of the people of Judah, believe that the prophesied Messiah will be a mere human who cannot pass through stone. That's a correct assumption, but the Messiah has already passed through it back when it was open (as we read in the verses above), and when He returns, nothing physical will be able to prevent Him from entering Zion - from which all the world will learn how to truly worship and obey God, so that they too can enter (see Anti-Zion Is Anti-Christ).
"4:1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. 4:2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4:3 And he shall judge among many people [see Moriah: Separating The Wheat From The Chaff], and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Micah 4:1-3 KJV)
"Blessed are they that do His Commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city"
The Messiah's famous "narrow way" (i.e. narrow road) teaching actually begins with first entering through the right "gate" - the point of the lesson is that going a long way isn't worth anything if it's the wrong way.
"7:13 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: 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it [see What's Your Angle?].
Luke (see The Gospel By The Gentile) recorded the same lesson, but with the warning that not only must we enter through the right (i.e. righteous) gate, we must do so when the opportunity is given to us. Just as in due time it opens, so too in due time it will be closed, "When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door." The present sealing of the gate is a prophetic object lesson.
"13:22 And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 13:23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved?
The ultimate meaning of those physical gates of the Old City is the spiritual gates of the coming New Jerusalem (the only Biblical mention of the famous "pearly gates" is on earth - see What Will Heaven Be Like?).
"21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 21:11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; 21:12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 21:13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Revelation 21:10-14 KJV)
The gates of the New Jerusalem are open to "they that do His Commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."
"22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." (Revelation 22:14-15 KJV)
Fact Finder: Why did the LORD (see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM') command the Israelites to construct the Tabernacle and the Temple with the entrance facing east?
This Day In History, June 23
79: Titus (see Titus Vespasianus) succeeded his father Vespasian as Roman Emperor. It was Titus who was in command of the Roman military forces that destroyed Jerusalem in 70, as prophesied by Jesus Christ (see What Did Jesus Christ Say About Those Stones? and Jerusalem In Flames).
1180: The Genpei War in Japan began with the First Battle of Uji.
1298: Albert I, a Hapsburg, son of Rudolf I, became the new king of The Holy Roman Empire after deposing German king Adolf of Nassau.
1305: The Treaty of Athis-sur-Orge between King Philip IV of France and Robert de Bethune, count of Flanders, was signed. Strongly opposed by the Flemings (Flanders today composes the northern area of Belgium), the treaty involved the French for 20 years in military attempts to enforce it. Signed after Philip's victory over the Flemings at Mons-en-Pevele in 1304.
1314: The 2-day battle of Bannockburn began. A decisive battle in Scottish history; under the leadership of Robert I the Bruce, the Scots defeated the English under Edward II (1282-1327), regained their independence, and established Bruce on his throne. The battle was fought for possession of Stirling Castle, then the last stronghold of the English in Scotland. The Scots regard the battle as the culmination of their Wars of Independence, while the English regard it as a lamentable defeat. In 1964, on the 650th anniversary of the battle, an equestrian statue of Robert I the Bruce was unveiled on the site by Queen Elizabeth II.
1501: Pedro Cabral returned to Portugal after a voyage during which he claimed Brazil for Portugal.
1532: Henry VIII and Francois I signed a treaty of alliance against Emperor Charles V.
1565: Turgut Reis, commander of the Ottoman navy, was killed during the Siege of Malta (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).
1611: During his fourth voyage, English explorer Henry Hudson was set adrift in Hudson Bay (as it was later named after him) by mutineers on his ship Discovery. He was never seen again.
1683: English pioneer William Penn signed a friendship treaty with the native people in Pennsylvania (named after William Penn).
1700: Russia gave up its Black Sea fleet as part of a truce with the Ottoman Empire.
1713: Amidst an impending war with France, the French residents of Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine) were given an ultimatum to declare allegiance to Britain or leave. Some left, to various locations, including the French territory of Louisiana (named after King Louis of France) where they became known as "Cajuns" (a southern pronunciation of Acadian; the term "Dixie" originated from dix, the French word for ten).
1757: The Battle of Plassey. 3,000 British troops under the command of Robert Clive defeated a 50,000 man India army under Siraj Ud Daulah.
1758: During the Seven Years War, British and Hanoverian armies defeated the French at Krefeld in Germany.
1794: Empress Catherine II of Russia granted Jews permission to settle in Kiev.
1848: Workers in Paris rose in an insurrection known as the "June Days."
1868: Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for the "typewriter."
1887: The Canadian Rocky Mountains Park Act created the nation's first national park, Banff National Park.
1914: During the Mexican Revolution, Pancho Villa captured Zacatecas from Victoriano Huerta.
1940: Adolf Hitler (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion) made a victory visit to Paris after his invasion armies conquered France to bring about "regime change" for the French people.
1967: Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, reaffirming the Church of Rome's law on celibacy (listen also to our Sermon Constantine's Papacy).
1972: During the Watergate criminal investigation, U.S. President Richard Nixon and White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman were recorded (by Nixon's own Oval Office recording system) discussing how to use the CIA to obstruct the FBI investigation of the White House.
1985: 329 people died when Air India flight 182, a Boeing 747, was brought down by an on-board bomb off the Irish coast.