In Session 24 we touched on the subject of Watchmen / Gatekeepers and the importance of these roles as intercessors.
We covered the importance of keeping alert :-
Eph 6:18 – be alert 1 Peter 5:8 – be sober be alert 2 Cor 2:11 – don’t be ignorant of the schemes of the evil one Col 4:2 devote ourselves to prayer, keeping alert – Garden of Gethsemane – watch and pray.
We examined some of the Biblical types of gate/door keepers and the importance of their roles such as:
– to keep the garden fruitful,
– to protect the fields of harvest from the enemy,
– to sleep in the opening of the sheep fold
– to let the King of Glory in
– to keep the enemy out
We looked particularly at Daniel as role model interceding gatekeeper, and pondered Obed Edoms contentment to remain a door keeper after having had the Ark and all its blessings in his family. Even David said I would sooner be a door keeper in the house of the Lord.
There is much contention amongst scholars over teaching on intercessors being gatekeepers, just as there is over spiritual warfare. Whatever the reality, there can be a great deal learnt on how to pray in certain situations, from the practical roles of gatekeepers and doorkeepers as described in the Bible.
Just as we can learn from the roles of gate keepers to assist us in our intercession, we can also learn from the role of a great GATE REPAIRER. Nehemiah is probably well known for his leadership skills as the rebuilder of the the walls of Jerusalem, but consider this he obtained wood from the forest of Asaph to repair gates, the stones were already there. He knew the importance of gates, and his prayer life can teach us a great deal.
If we dare to scratch beneath the surface of the text, and look at some of the types/foreshadows in the book of Nehemiah AS WELL AS looking at the surface, we can learn how Holy Spirit works in repairing lives, communities and churches along with the intercessor.
The name Nehemiah means Yahweh Comforts
He is considered by some scholars as a type/reflection of the Holy Spirit. Indeed his name is derived from the Hebrew word :-
Nachan – the consoling breath or spirit of God OR the pity which becomes active in the interest of another. ie The very nature of Holy Spirit.
Read Nehemiah 1:3-11
This is an incredible prayer, typical of all intercessors who share compassion for the work of God in any area of life and ministry. There needs to be a time of weeping, mourning, fasting and identification with the state of affairs.
Note the identification of Nehemiah with the condition of the walls. He does not pile on guilt or shame, but agrees in compassion and identification to work with the people in the rebuilding process. Holy Spirit is so committed to working with us in the rebuilding process. He has such compassion and identification, its incredible.
This prayer and identification enables Nehemiah to move into phase two of all intercessors work. Doing something about the problem.
plus the following precis of Chapter 2
As he was serving the king he appeared sad. When asked why and what he wanted he was very skilful and precise in his answers.
v3 He appeals to the generational reverence Persians beliefs held.
v3 He doesn’t mention Jerusalem directly, as it was a threat.
v4 He prays in the middle of his answers
He asks for resources for repairing the gates – timber from the forests of Asaph
He asks for authority
He asks for protection
The Temple – the House of God had been rebuilt by Ezra and gang. The centre of Jerusalem had be re established as a place of worship, but the inhabitants were open to attack and intimidation due to the state of the walls and the lack of gates.
You could draw parallels to personal life after conversion, or maybe a church that is in a state of transition. Your local church can be well established as a House of God for its local congregation, worship and the Word being central to the development, but the boundary walls may be in disrepair or need of rebuilding to cope with a period of change / expansion. Or after conversion the Spirit lives central to your life. The boundaries God is establishing in our lives are undoubtedly being continually established and He incredibly chooses to use the rubble of our uniquesness and past to rebuild each one of us.
Note - walls being in ruin is not defeat. They may be rubble but they can still be used for rebuilding. In fact the rubble is the uniqueness of Gods creation in you, Gods creation of the constituent parts of His church. He just wants us and the church rebuilt, the materials for shaping are already in our midst. Holy Spirit adds one piece of wood to our gates – the Cross.
Nehemiah surveys the town by night and in secret over 3 days. He makes a plan. He knows it will take time. He identifies the problem and shows no sense of condemnation
v17-18 You see the trouble WE are in – let US rebuild the walls – WE will no longer be in disgrace. – he bears witness to the gracious hand of God
Just like the Holy Spirit he shows compassion, commitment to work, and companionship not you rebuild WE will rebuild and no longer be in disgrace. He witnesses to Gods plan and favour toward us.
When confronted by Sanballat a type/shadow of our enemy his retort
“The God of heaven gives us success. We his servants will start rebuilding but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”
What a response? What incredible truth and application to each of us when confronted with an enemy as we work with Holy Spirit in rebuilding our lives, and repairing our gates.
Our enemy, because of the cross, the letter of authority from the King, has no historic right, share or claim. Hallelujah.
The WISDOM of Nehemiah
He sets families in place to work on the gates and walls by their homes, so they will be motivated to work.
The whole family, daughters v12 and craftsmen perfume makers v8. They all worked NEXT to each other, for mutual protection and morale. A multitude of families, villages, and professions are listed. WHY? The only way to rebuild lives is by allowing other people to help alongside them.
GATES to be repaired
Sheep Gate – Ministry to the Flock – close to exit from the Temple – when working in prayer with Holy Spirit consider your personal ministry or the ministry of the church to the flock. Our lives are incomplete without a functioning gate, open to ministering at whatever level to the body of believers. Is this gate in your life in a good state of repair? Are you open or shut? Consider a ministry such as Prayerweek, a ministry to the flock worldwide, and how you may work with Holy Spirit in building this gate to open out to many more parts of the flock.
Fish Gate – Ministry to the Lost – bringing people into the city to enter the House of God. It is great to see new areas of evangelism being established in our local church new ventures, new workers. Holy Spirit is repairing this essential gate so people can entered the security of the City of God. What about your personal ministry to the lost, are you open to bringing fish into the temple, do you need to work with Holy Spirit on this gate in your life?
Old Gate – Jeshanah Gate – Gate of Restoration - Jeshanah was a city near Bethel, a city near the House of God. It is the ministry of every believer and church to bring people into restored relationship with Father. Take a look and see how Holy Spirit is working with us in prayer on the lives of prodigals. Take note, He is doing this around the world.
Valley Gate – opposite the valley of Hinnom, the place of Baal worship, child sacrifice, the word Hinnom means hellish. This gate allowed a view out onto the past. It’s a place where people come into the protection of the city from. Is your past, is the churches past outside the walls? Are you working with Holy Spirit to keep the gate shut? Indeed has the gate been repaired in your own life?
Dung Gate – a place to take rubbish out of the city. All souls need a place to get rid of rubbish. The ministry of Celebrate Recovery or Family Matters or any other may be likened to a gate that Holy Spirit is repairing to enable people to put their rubbish outside the city of God. Are you coming with Holy Spirit in prayer to offload the rubbish in your life? Do you have a place, a gate, a time daily when you decide to put the bin out?
Fountain Gate – where people daily exited and returned to get water. Approach,s the Kidron Valley. It is a type of our daily need for the Word of God. A place where the Spirit of life wells up within us, refreshes and cleanses us.
This gate is opposite the Pool of Siloam, by the Kings Garden – our daily access to the Word brings healing and access to the Kings Garden. What an incredible picture. Note the Pool is inside the walls, its in the place of safety within the body.
You could expand on these gates, their significance to your personal life, to the personal life of the church. Nehemiah saw gates in a physical city as extremely important. Holy Spirit sees gates in our lives and churches as points of entry which we can choose to establish, repair, open and shut to the works of God. Nehemiah saw prayer as essential to enlisting Fathers and the kings support for the work, you can learn from his prayer AND his actions.
THE ONE RESOURCE Nehemiah needed was wood for gates, and he set high priority in stationing people to repair the gates. In Chapter 7 we read he then appoints the gatekeepers and singers, choosing a commander who feared God more than most men do.
If we consider the importance of being alert and on the watch in our prayer life, what gates to our soul, our church, our nation are in a state of disrepair?
We have the resources, we have the authority, and we have Holy Spirit working with us. You cannot open a gate to the lost unless it is in place. You cannot open a gate to healing unless daily access to the Word is available. You cannot open a gate to unload your past if you don’t build a safe place to do so. You cannot close the gate on your past, unless we recognise we need to.
It intrigues me to think that God has raised a place of worship and the word in our fellowship, and now Holy Spirit is repairing, repositioning our gates.
Just think Celebrate Recovery – a safe place where we can get rid of our hurts, hang ups and habits, and invite the lost to do the same, it is a gate being REPAIRED.
The marriage course is a gate for people to repair that area of their life.
Prayer Surgeries and request cards provide a place for people to come into the Pool.
Home Groups are gates by which people can work together and enter the Fountain of the Word.
Street Evangelism and our Prayer Partnering are gates being repaired to minister to the lost.
24/7 Prayer is like the Sheep Gate, a ministry to the whole flock of God, opening up a way for people to come into the presence of Gods House.
Junior Church is a gateway for which sons and daughters, professionals and families are repairing for the security and safety of family life.
Just think about this Holy Spirit has placed people in these ministries who are working on the gates close to their own homes/hearts because HE knows that they will work more diligently for their safety.
I was intrigued to see the name (probably a Jew) Asaph as keeper of the Persian kings forest. Here a man of importance, respected for his skills, recorded by Holy Spirit in the Word of God as an agent to supply the wood for repairing the gates. God honours a probable member of the family of Asaph which we can read throughout the Old Testament as a key prophetic family in the life of Judah.
1 Chronicles 25:1-2
David together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals. Here is the list of the men who performed this service:
From the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah and Asarelah. The sons of Asaph were under the supervision of Asaph, who prophesied under the king’s supervision.
1 Chronicles 5:13
“Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voice in unison, as with one voice, in praise to the Lord and sang:
“He is good; his love endures forever.”
Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the Temple.
It was one of Asaph’s sons who prophesied to King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chron 20
Stand Firm ---- you will not have to fight this battle --- do not be afraid, do not be discouraged
And when the king led the people in praise, the Lord sent ambushes against the Ammonites and Moabites just as prophesied.
Rebuilding the Real You – Jack W Hayford
Nehemiah – Becoming A Disciplined Leader