When I was in high school, we often encounter fights with competing schools. Rivalry was intense during my time. There were times they would be so daring to come to our school gate. I can still remember saying to them, you cross the line on this gate you’ll get hurt. Life is always dealt with choices.
You either choose left or right, down or up, right or wrong, far or near, inside or outside, black or white, in or out, hot or cold. And God made it a rule that if you sit in between, when you are neither hot nor cold, you are considered out. God clearly said in Rev 3:16, “I will spue thee out.”
In Matthew 7:13 (actually, let us all stand and read this verse with me) “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: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Here Jesus speaks about gates. As we just read, God has the narrow or strait gate and Satan has the wide or broad gate to destruction. I will be talking about gates. I am amazed in my reading of the Bible how many times the word gate or gates appear from Genesis to Revelation. The word gate or gates is mentioned 352 times. And so there must be some significance to this word.
One of the great miracles that were performed in the N.T. is found in Acts chapter 3. It was when Peter and John went up to the temple to pray when they saw a lame man from birth begging for alms by the gate of the temple called Beautiful. And as he saw Peter and John, he beg for alms, in which Peter said in v6 “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ … rise up and walk.”
Instead of receiving alms of money, God gave him pair of legs. How about that? Amen. If you know you are saved, this is actually a picture of our condition before. We were crippled with sin. But Jesus gave us a pair of legs to walk in his righteousness. The lame was healed and pretty soon he was jumping, leaping and praising God, v8 says.
But there must also be some significance why it was called gate Beautiful. I believe it is indicative of the way that God envisions gates to be something of importance to us. I can see that God has a fondness in scripture for gates. He loves gates so much that there’s an amazing verse in Psalm 87:2 that says, “The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.”
So much so that in the Old Testament one of the promises he gave to Abraham says, ‘thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.” Over and over again you will read in the Bible these words, “put the battle in array before the gate” or “turn the battle to the gate.”
God must always be thinking about gates. He loves the gates of Zion. The gate is mentioned more than any other part of the temple in the tabernacle. Zion- in the Bible is indicative of a place where God dwells. It could mean the Holy of Holies. In another instance, it refers to the City of Jerusalem. One day we will have our own Zion, the New Jerusalem.
I. Gate illustrates choice
If you come to think of it, there’s a difference between a wall and a gate. You can’t go through walls. Walls will either keep people in or people out. But gates lets people in and lets people out. It can swing in either direction. It illustrates choice. As I said last Sunday, God has always been an advocate for choice, because choice exposes our hearts and our motives. In a gate, you don’t only have the access to go in but you can also choose to leave. God says I love the fact that there are people who chooses me. They don’t have to but you choose to. You don’t have to obey His commands but you chose to. God will never force anyone.
You don’t have to praise God but you choose to. We don’t have to go to church but we choose to. You don’t have to serve me but you chose to. You don’t have to give your tithes and offerings but out of your love you choose to. You don’t have to glorify God but you choose to. You don’t have to be conscious and mindful of God but you choose to. And it is very special to God seeing that, yes, you could choose not to but you chose to.
And Joshua understood this principle, he said in Joshua 24:15 says- if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve…. but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Anyone here who has made the decision to receive the grace of God by the death, burial and resurrection for your salvation in Jesus Christ, made that choice not because you have to but because you choose to.
Perhaps, this will be your first time to hear this from anyone ever. And I could be wrong.
But I believe that God being God He also makes choices. He can choose to make Himself blind to what you are going to choose. I said that because God gets so excited and so delighted when you choose Him. He would not be so if He knew it already. He loves your choice. Think about this when He created man. He formed him in His image out of dirt. He breathed the breath of life into man.
And then He puts him in a garden. Then God did something for choice. In Genesis 2:9 this is what it says- And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And in God’s wisdom, He gave the law in v17 that says, But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Here He placed the tree in the open because He wants to see whether man would choose to obey or not obey His commands. Have you ever wondered why God did not put the tree of knowledge of good and evil behind battalions of angels to guard it with flaming swords? It was because it was special to God to see them choose to obey His command. Obviously, they didn’t and that’s how and why we are considered fallen. This is how sin entered into man.
Romans 5:12 says, “… as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” This reinforces my belief that God can choose not to know if He wants to. He chose not to know what Adam and Eve would choose. That’s why in His redemption plan, all over the gospel, He said “whosoever will.”
God must be saying I love the fact that when you choose my will and honour me above all, it thrills my heart. I love gates because gates represent choice. God loves choice. I thought about this, God loves the fact that you chose to be here than to be where the world lures you today. You could have been in the park today, on the beach, or anywhere. But you are here because you chose to be here. And that pleases God. And you know what happens when He is pleased. God being not a debtor, He will reward you for it.
We do it out of choice. And God loves it especially when He allows trials in your life, especially when you had a tough week, especially when things seems to be going wrong, you chose to be here in God’s house -wanting to honour Him and still say, the Lord is good and His mercy endureth forever.
In the book of Numbers chapter 35, there’s an amazing story about gates. God loves gates that the Bible says God spoke to Moses and said- I want you to build me six cities. And v15 tells us that these are going to be called cities of refuge both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.
These cities were geographically established in Israel so that, wherever people are, if they have accidentally killed someone, like for example- they were swinging an axe while working and axe head flew off and hit someone in the head, under the old law it was an eye for an eye. Meaning, you have the right to go and kill that person as the avenger of blood based on a law called eye for an eye, even if it was an accident because it caused death to your own blood.
And God said to Moses, I want you to build cities of refuge so that if they have made a terrible mistake, they could run as fast as they could to the city of refuge, entering by the big gates of the city, 24/7. You can also see this in Joshua 20:1-3 that says, The Lord also spake unto Joshua, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses: That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.
The avenger of blood cannot touch them there in that city of refuge, a place of protection, a place of comfort, and a place of safety. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 91:1-2 -He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 46:1 says- God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.Proverbs 18:10 -The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
Later on I will bring you to a story of the death of Abner in 2 Samuel 3 where king David said that Abner died like a fool that has some relevance to us today in N.T. times. The Bible says, we all have sinned…wilfully or accidentally. And for this God says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” And sadly, there is not one of us here who has not sinned. Therefore, we all deserve death.
II. Gate Implies Care
But God provided a City of refuge. Yes, we deserved judgment in hell but if you will run to our city of refuge- His name is Jesus Christ. Run through the gate of the cross- His death, burial and resurrection, you will be safe for eternity. Folks, I have not a doubt that many in hell will realise they were fools for rejecting Christ like the story Abner I will share with you soon. When you can choose: you can choose His grace, you can choose His forgiveness, you can choose new life where the Bible says in John 6:37-“… him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. And Jesus would say I don’t care who you were, what you’ve done, I don’t care what people have said about you, I don’t care what foolish religion you grew up with, you can run into the city of refuge and here I will protect you.
You will be so protected that He says in Isaiah 54:17 –“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” Your past will have no more authority, have no more influence in your new life here in the city of refuge. You are safe in the city. If you choose to remain within the city of refuge, you are guaranteed safety. But if you wonder outside the city, you are on your own.
Come to Christ! And when you are in Christ, stay in Christ! Be faithful to Him. Come to the refuge of His words in church. Come to His holiness. Stay in His righteousness. It’s awesome to be in the City of Refuge in Christ. He is our Shepherd. But there is always a hitch. God keeps the gate open 24/7 because if He shuts it -no one can anymore come in. He wants people in to get refuge. 2Pet 3:9 says, He is not willing that any should perish.
It must be open. But while it’s open, sadly, many will be tempted to wonder outside the gate of the city of refuge. Remember that your freewill or your freedom to choose is still intact in you. There is no protection outside. If you fall into a cliff, no doubt, He could rescue you but that would not be without pain.
As this warning was real in the times of Moses, it is real now in your new life with Jesus.
Once you enter into Christ- be careful that you don’t slip back into the old life. You are now in the new life, 2 Cor. 5:17. He bought you out with His precious blood. You’re safe as long as you are in Christ. We may not be perfect until that day but Jesus already has bought us our perfection.
You don’t have to go back to the old stuff that you know is going to destroy your life, destroy your family, destroy your character, hinder His favours, and most importantly put a blemish in the name of Christ that you carry, naming yourself a Christian. You cannot go back outside the gate without understanding that the avenger of blood is waiting outside to destroy you.
III. Gate Insures Conservation
Let me now give you the amazing story of the man named Abner that David said- died as a fool. This will fit in with my message about gates in the city of refuge. I cannot give you a thorough detail of the story because we do not have the time but I will give you the important facts that are relevant to my message.
At the time, there was conflict between Saul and David where, if you remember, even if David refused to fight against Saul because he recognized him as God’s anointed. During this conflict, Abner was actually Saul’s Commander-in-chief that later on depicted to David’s side because of a fallout that he had with Saul’s son Ishbosheth.
In 2nd Samuel 2:18-24 we find in that He was being pursued by a man named Asahel. Asahel is the brother of Joab, who happens to be the Commander in Chief of David.
Somewhere in this conflict, Abner apparently killed Asahel with a spear on his 5th rib and died. Abner did not really intend to kill him but it happened out of heated circumstances, perhaps as Asahel refused to follow orders.
Later, we find that Abner took refuge at the gates of the city of Hebron as he was pursued by Joab, who is now his brother’s avenger of blood. Remember that Hebron was one of the 6 cities of refuge. There Joab, David’s Commander-in-chief catches up with Abner at the gate of the city of refuge and kills Abner, to avenge the death of his brother, 2 Sam. 3:27.
What is most striking are the comments made by king David as he mourned the death of Abner, in vs32-34 where the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth? Thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters: as a man falleth before wicked men, so fellest thou.
In plain words, David was saying, “Abner, you died like a fool! You were right there inside the gate of the city of refuge. All you could have stayed right in. Nobody had you tied up! You could have been safe there, but you died like a fool!” Folks, don’t let that same thing happen to you! Nobody has you tied down this morning. All you have to do is walk into the refuge and be saved. Our Refuge is Jesus. He is waiting for you!
I could imagine how Joab, this mighty warrior, standing outside the gate, as v27 tells us, speaking to Abner in a friendly way. Verse 27 says Joab spoke to Abner quietly or softly, trying to lure him, trick him to come outside the gate. Folks, temptation won’t scream at you. It will always appeal to your soft side. Just like Satan pleading you to come back to him. “Mate, come back. Come back. Come on, you’re ok. It doesn’t hurt. God is love. He’ll protect you. Don’t worry. It’s harmless fun. You don’t have to be in church. There’s more fun outside.”
And so, cut the story short, Abner yielded, went outside the gate of the city of refuge and there his life was destroyed. There’s no doubt, our young people are always hearing the voice of peer pressure, inviting you to enjoy a life out from Christ. Beware, it could look like fun but it could be death. Don’t trust in your abilities. Don’t in your sleekness. Trust only in Jesus. Stay within the bounds of His words. Lean upon Him all the time.
Once you are in Christ- you need to remember that satan and his demons will not rest. They’re out there busy trying to lure you out for some fun. The enemy could use the most influential person there is to you. It could be from a brother, a sister, some best friend or it could be your own parents who are devotedly lost in their religion. Satan knows whom he can use to lure you back, and it will be those most influential to you. You need to stay in Christ.
In Christ, he might allow trials and disappointments in your life but they are to grow you and position you for blessings. Choose the strait and narrow gate. I am now in my mid 60’s, all I can say is this, it is sweet to trust in Jesus. It doesn’t matter how long you have lived in the city of refuge you better stay in that city, cling to Jesus faithfully for blessings and favours where you could sing “The longer I serve You the sweeter it goes.”
I’ve made up my mind that I’m going to live in Christ within the boundaries of His words. I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. The Bible teaches that hell is a real place. He said in Matthew 16:18, I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, which means that if people go to hell- it will not be because a loving God sent them there. They chose not to get in through the gate of the city of refuge to be safe.
People trust in their religion. They trust in their good works. If it was through all this that man can be saved, Jesus then didn’t have to die on the cross for your sins and mine. The fact is we cannot save ourselves because we all are sinners. God the Father chose His son, Jesus, a sinless man to pay for our sins. Come to Him. If you are not 100% sure where you will spend eternity, please, let me invite you to make sure of it. The Bible can tell us you can be sure.
1John 5:13, He says, These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Revelation 21 gives us a glimpse of heaven. If you choose Jesus, up there in heaven- there will be 12 pearly gates with twelve foundations, named after the twelve Apostles. This is the reason why I don’t believe that apostleship continues today, as the Apostolic church believed. Up there, the gates are still open. The only difference is its surrounding are now safe.
No one makes it to heaven by accident. It is by appointment when you have come to Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Lord. By His grace, I’m no longer afraid to die. I’m not afraid what the future holds because I have put my life and my future and my entire hope in hands of my Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ. How about you? How sure are you? If you come today, we will show you the sure Word of God so that you can be sure of your destiny in eternity.
Stop running your life your way. Choose the strait and narrow gate inviting Jesus in your life. If you will come to Him and ask Him by faith, He will save your soul and take you to Heaven when you leave this world. Isn’t that what you really want? If you want to choose Jesus, I invite you to come to Him right now. He will give you LIFE! Choose the gate in the City of Refuge! Don’t be embarrassed to leave your seat and to come to Jesus this morning.
If you know you are saved, come anyway and thank Him for Him for His protection inside the gate. Don’t wander outside the gate. If you have wandered, please come back before destruction strikes you. Let us all stand……