Standing At The Gate

 

 

 

 

 

The Bible speaks about a few different Gates.   And today I’d like us to consider Three of those Gates.

 

First of all, the bible speaks about the “gates of hades”, in  Mathew 16, verse 18.   In that verse, Jesus said;  “..And upon that rock I will build My church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.”   Another way of saying that would be..  “the gates of hades will not prevent me from building My church”.  In other words, Jesus is saying that even His upcoming death, cannot stop Him from building His “church”,  His assembly of the saved.  The “gates of hades”, are the “confines of death”.  and those confines  could NOT stop the Son of God, from accomplishing, what He came to accomplish.   The “gates of hades” are no match for the power of God, and of the resurrection to life.

And not only are the “gates of hades” no match for Christ’s resurrection, but they’re no match for our own resurrection either.  That’s a guarantee, and a promise, from God!

We’re told, in  1 Corinthians 15, verse 22 thru 26;  “For as in Adam all die, even so, in Christ, shall all be made alive.”  (And that’s talking about spiritual life and spiritual death.  Just as Adam died spiritually, the day he sinned, so do we all die spiritually, the day we sin.)  But the scripture goes on, and says;  “Even so, IN CHRIST, all shall be made alive.” 

And those two words are so important..  IN CHRIST.  It is only IN CHRIST that we are made alive spiritually.   So then..  “In Christ, shall all be made alive.  But each one in his own order: Christ the first fruits, and afterward, those who are Christ’s at His coming.  Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;  When He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under his feet.  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

“In Christ” the gates of hades have no power at all.

 

Next, the bible also speaks of the “narrow gate”.   In  Mathew 7, verses 13 & 14,  Jesus said;  “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate, and narrow the way, that leads to life, and only a few find it.”    

If we were to have two gates set before us, one wide spacious gate, and one narrow small gate, and we had to go through one or the other, which one would you choose to go through?   This isn’t a hypothetical question.  It’s a real life question.  And God tells us that most people, the majority of people, will inevitably choose to go through that wide and spacious, and comfortable gate;  Where there’s plenty of room.  But the problem is, that gate, only leads to destruction.   Few people are there indeed, who make it their personal choice, to squeeze through that small, narrow, tight gate, that leads to life.  I suppose it’s simply too much trouble.  Too much effort on our part.

But thank the Lord of heaven, that He has provided that narrow little gate!  Thank the Lord every day, for giving us the opportunity, to put forth some effort.  For troubling us that little bit.  Thank the Lord!

You know, we can think of that narrow little gate, in a couple of different ways.  I think that it’s most commonly thought of as the narrow gate to heaven.  We go through that gate, and we’re in heaven.  And I think that’s one way it’s depicted by Jesus in those verses.  But another way that Jesus depicts it, is as a narrow WAY.  The “gate” is also a “way” to heaven.  So not just a gate to pass through, but a way that must be traveled, in order to get where you want to go, so that you can enter in.

“Narrow is the WAY that leads to life, and few there be that find it.”   “Narrow is the way”   Narrow is the path, that we must travel, if we want to enter heaven, through that small little gate.   We’re told in  2 John verse 9;  “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”   The doctrine of Christ, is obviously “the narrow way”.   And if we don’t abide in that narrow way, then we don’t have God.  And if we don’t have God, then guess what?   If we don’t God, then we’re not going to fit through that narrow little gate!  We’ll be carrying to much baggage.  Namely, the baggage if sin!  And sin doesn’t fit through that gate.

To me, I think it’s kind of like that illustration that Jesus made of a camel going through the eye of a needle.  With man, it’s impossible to get through there, but with God, all things are possible.  I think it’s pretty much a given, that without God, you’ll never squeeze yourself through that narrow gate.  But with God, I think we’ll slide through that gate like butter.

 

Now, our third “gate” that the bible speaks of, is actually referred to in the plural sense, as “gates”.   And we sometimes refer to them as “pearly gates”.   A vision was given to the apostle John, in  Revelation 21,  beginning in  verse 10.  And here’s the description of the vision;  “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,  Having the glory of God:  And her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;  The city had a great and high wall, with twelve gates inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, and twelve angels at the gates.  There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west.”     

And then we’re told in  verse 21;  “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls;  Every several gate was of one pearl:  And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.”   What a vision, of the heavenly city, referred to as “Jerusalem”, and of the “pearly gates”.  

And there’s twelve gates in this vision.  Not just one little narrow gate.  But there’s a reason for that difference.  You see, those two different illustrations, are revealing to us two different truths.  The first truth is, that the pathway to heaven is indeed narrow.  There’s no room to veer off to one side or the other.  Thus the analogy of “abiding in the teaching of Christ.

But the second truth that’s illustrated, is that once we pass from this life in a saved condition, then the entrance into heaven is as free and easy, it’s as if there were twelve gates, so that ALL the saved will have easy access, to God the Father in heaven.  Twelve gates, representing the twelve tribes of Israel.  And of course the twelve tribes of Israel, is an analogy, meaning ALL of the saved!  No one who has been abiding in Christ, will be left out.  Easy access is granted to all who would come.

And isn’t that what the Lord’s invitation says, in  Revelation 22, verse 17;  “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And the one hearing, let him say, “Come!” And the one thirsting let him come; the one desiring, let him take freely the water of life.”   

But then a warning is given in the next two verses..  “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”   

So then again, we must ABIDE in the teachings of Christ, and then that easy and free access is guaranteed!   A narrow way, and a narrow gate, but then in the end, twelve pearly gates, enough for everyone who chooses.

 

So those were the three “gates” from the bible that I wanted to talk about.  But now there’s one more “gate” that’s not necessarily mentioned in the bible, but it’s a “gate” nonetheless, that we should be thinking about.  This “gate”, is the “Gate of the Year”.  And since this is the start of a new year, we can call it, “The Gate of the New Year”.

As we begin a new year, we’re kind of passing through a new gate.  And it’s not always evident what lies ahead.  But we really have no choice, the gate is before us, and it’s open wide, and we’ve got to go through.   And I don’t know that we’d want to stay exactly where we are, even if we could.  So here we go, through “the Gate of the new year”.

 

Let me tell you about a poem, written over a hundred years ago.  Because it talks about “The Gate of the Year”.  And maybe you’ve already heard this poem, or heard about it;   But if you have, it won’t hurt to hear about it again.

 

“The Gate of the Year” is the “popular name” given to a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins.  The title given to it by the author, was “God Knows”.   But the name “The Gate of the Year” was given to this poem, because of the words of the first line of the poem.

Minnie Louise Haskins  was a woman who first studied, and then taught, at the London School of Economics in the first half of the twentieth century.

The poem, written in 1908, and privately published in 1912, was part of a collection titled, The Desert. It caught the public attention, and the popular imagination, when King George VI quoted it, in his 1939 Christmas broadcast to the British Empire. The poem may have been brought to his attention by his wife, Queen Elizabeth 

In The book The Servant Queen and the King She Serves[2] published for Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday, its foreword being written by the Queen, says that it was the young Princess Elizabeth herself, aged 13, who handed the poem to her father.

The poem was widely acclaimed as inspirational, reaching its first mass audience in the early days of the Second World War. Its words remained a source of comfort to the Queen Mother, for the rest of her life, and she had its words engraved on stone plaques and fixed to the gates of the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the King was interred. The Queen Mother was also buried there in 2002, and the words of “The Gate of the Year” were included in a reflection in her funeral‘s order of service.

The poem was also included in the closing moments of the 1940 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Frank Borzage film The Mortal Storm, starring Margaret SullavanJames Stewart and Robert Young.

And so let me read to you the poem..

“God Knows”  by Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957)   Also called “The Gate of the Year”

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”  (Isn’t that a lot like this new year that we’re facing?  We’re facing a lot of unknowns)

And so..  I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills, and the breaking of day, in the lone East.

 

So heart be still;

What need our little life, Our human life to know, If God hath comprehension?

In all the dizzy strife, Of things both high and low, God hideth His intention.

God knows.  His will Is best.  The stretch of years, which wind ahead, so dim to our imperfect vision, are clear to God.

Our fears are premature; In Him, all time hath full provision.

Then rest: Until God moves to lift the veil from our impatient eyes,

When, as the sweeter features of Life’s stern face we hail, Fair beyond all surmise.
God’s thought around His creatures, Our mind shall fill.

 

Kind of a nice little poem isn’t it?  It sure makes you think about your life, and about God.  And it sure makes you think about putting your life, in God’s hands.  That’s no doubt the best thing we could ever do, don’t you think?

 

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills, and the breaking of day, in the lone East.”

 

And so that’s our lesson for this morning.  Three gates of the bible, and the Gate of the New Year.  And all of them, in the trustworthy hands of God.

 

 

 

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.