Have you ever been up close and personal with a skunk? Not a good idea!!! My mother recalls her encounter with one as a girl. Living in a rural area near Grants Pass, Oregon, she was playing in a field with her siblings and their dog. Just imagine how rambunctious an unrestrained dog can be with several kids urging him on; and this one was joyfully running around, sniffing and digging when he happened upon a skunk’s hole. Oh, this was just too good to pass up so he investigated further—pawing away at that tantalizing mystery. I’m sure you can also imagine what happened next as the poor skunk finally had enough and let loose with it’s aromatic perfume! Mom says her dad was really upset because he had to take all of their clothes out and bury them—there was simply no way they could be salvaged.
I have my own skunk story. Our neighborhood, while well developed, remains home to a large variety of animals that are drawn to the brushy hillsides and nearby creek. When we moved here we put a wrought iron fence around our front patio and made sure the bars on the bottom were very close together to keep our little dog in and the rabbits out. Recently, our neighbor was out walking her dog at dawn and, as she passed our gate, noticed a skunk on our patio that seemed to be looking unsuccessfully for a way out. An old ranch-hand who’s dealt with many such critters over the years, she wasn’t intimidated and—lucky for us—knew exactly what to do. She moved over to a spot where she could not be seen and made enough noise to distract the skunk, causing him to move away from the gate. Then she quietly opened it and moved back away out of sight. Within a few moments a very calm skunk ambled out onto the sidewalk and scurried off into the bushes. Had my husband hurried out the door on his way to work and surprised our little visitor, we may have had to dig a hole somewhere for his clothes too! We definitely learned the importance of a secure gate with no gaps for unwelcome visitors to squeeze through. It was just a tiny gap—only about an inch more than the rest of the fence, but it was enough. Needless to say, that gap has been closed and the gate secured.
The Bible has a lot to say about gates; a subject most of us probably never paid a whole lot of attention to in years gone by, focusing instead on the heavier theological issues of sin, judgment, heaven and hell, forgiveness, grace, love, redemption, mercy, etc.; or just enjoying the wonderful stories of biblical heroes such as Noah, Moses, Esther, David, Jesus and his disciples. But since everything the Bible says has tremendous value, lets explore the more obscure topic of gates.
One summer, as a child attending Vacation Bible School, I recall vividly the scripture that was used each morning as the call to worship, Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.1 I also recall wondering what in the world that meant. How could gates have heads? It sounded beautiful as everyone recited the verses out loud, but it made absolutely no sense to my young mind. The implications of this verse are profound, and I
believe we will gain a clearer understanding of its meaning as we study more about gates.
Both gates and doors provide the security for enclosed spaces—if open, entry is possible; if closed and/or locked the interior spaces are secured from intrusion. Logically though, there is a slight difference between gates and doors, as gates generally lead into larger spaces and doors into smaller ones. For example, there may be a gate into a yard through which one must enter before reaching a door into a home or building. On a bigger scale, we can visualize the oft-visited gates around Buckingham Palace, the gates of an amusement park, or the gates of a city (i.e., Jerusalem or the Vatican)—all designed to provide or block entry. On the other end of the spectrum, there are tiny, microscopic gates on the cells in our bodies which are defined as molecules or parts of molecules that act in response to a stimulus to permit or block passage through a cell membrane.2 Consider just one cell in the body and realize that within it there are thousands of parts, including the chromosomes, which are composed of DNA—God’s blueprint for the entire body. Certainly, if viewed this way, even a tiny cell gate could be considered an entrance into a much greater dimensional space—entire volumes are written about cellular biology, something we can’t even observe without a microscope.
As we cannot easily see microscopic gates, neither is it an easy thing to observe gates that exist in the unseen spiritual realms; but that doesn’t make them any less real, as made evident in scripture by references to the gates of Sheol, death, and Hades or the gates of righteousness, heaven, the LORD, and the City of God.3 And, like the physical examples of cells or cities, spiritual gates also seem to enter into dimensions while spiritual doors enter into smaller places such as rooms or chambers.
The gate of a city as described in the Bible was often a fortified structure that was deeper than the wall. Deuteronomy 3:5 shows us that all these cities were fortified with high walls, gates, and bars, besides a great many rural towns. And Nehemiah 2:7-8 reveals that within major cities there were usually strongly fortified citadels with gates; Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let…a letter [be given] to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy. Yet, as in Exodus 27:16 and 38:18, we see that certain gates were only the thickness of a curtain, And for the gate of the court [of the tabernacle] shall be a hanging of twenty cubits…The screen for the gate of the court was woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and of fine woven linen. The length was twenty cubits, and the height along its width was five cubits, corresponding to the hangings of the court.
We know from Luke 23:45 that the curtain into the Holy of Holies was torn in two at the crucifixion. So here’s a thought to ponder; as the curtain was described as a physical gate; and as the physical reality is a representation or shadow of the spiritual reality; perhaps we can conclude that the physical rending of the curtain was a visual manifestation of the destruction of a gate that was erected to keep mankind from God after Adam and Eve sinned. Recall the words of Genesis 22:23, So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. So,
at the instant that the barrier gate was destroyed by Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, a new gate was opened—a gate of righteousness; a gate of redemption; a gate through which all people who choose Jesus may enter.
There is much legal significance attached to the concept of gates. Biblically, the gates of the city were where the elders met to conduct official business as well as the location of the courts and the execution of justice.
- Deuteronomy 16:18—You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment.
- Deuteronomy 21:19—then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city.
- Ruth 4:1—Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, “Come aside, friend, sit down here.” So he came aside and sat down.
It is also evident that if a public statement was to be made in a way that sent a very clear message, gates were a good place to do it. Consider the warnings and/or prophetic implications of these verses:
- Joshua 8:29—And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.
- 1 Samuel 4:18—Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.
- Judges 18:17—Then the five men who had gone to spy out the land went up. Entering there, they took the carved image, the ephod, the household idols, and the molded image. The priest stood at the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men who were armed with weapons of war.
- Joshua 6:26 and 1 Kings 16:34—Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, “Cursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates… In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the LORD, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun.
Gates are strategic in regard to the security of those within their walls—if one dwells within a gate there is a presumption of safety.
- Deuteronomy 14:29—And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
- Deuteronomy 15:17—If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother.
- Deuteronomy 31:12—Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law
- Deuteronomy 23:15-16—You shall not give back to his master the slave who has escaped from his master to you. He may dwell with you in your midst, in the place which he chooses within one of your gates, where it seems best to him; you shall not oppress him.
- Deuteronomy 24:14—You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates.
- Given the security that is implied by gates, it is not surprising that they are the point at which an enemy seeks to penetrate one’s defenses.
- Deuteronomy 28:52—They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the LORD your God has given you.
- Judges 16:2—When the Gazites were told, “Samson has come here!” they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They were quiet all night, saying, “In the morning, when it is daylight, we will kill him.
Throughout scripture, whether a reference is to the earthly or heavenly version of the city of Jerusalem, it is clear that it is near and dear to God’s heart. Both are gated, and an entire book could be written as to the spiritual significance—for example, Jesus referred to himself as the gate of the sheep,4 and Ezekiel prophesied His use of the Eastern Gate.5 Scriptural references to the physical gates of Jerusalem abound, with the most comprehensive information being found in Nehemiah. Even so, the exact location of walls and gates of Biblical Jerusalem are often in doubt due to the lack of strong archeological and historical evidence,6 and it appears that different names are used for the same gates in various historical and Biblical writings. Below are the Biblical references for the city gates (there are additional references for the gates of the temple that are not noted here).
- Sheep Gate7
- Fish Gate8
- Old Gate9
- Valley Gate10
- Dung Gate,11 probably same as Harsith Gate; sometimes rendered the Gate of Potsherds12
- Fountain Gate13
- Water Gate14
- Horse Gate15
- East Gate16
- Miphkad Gate or Inspection Gate17
- Ephraim Gate18
- Prison Gate or Gate of the Guard19
- Corner Gate20
- Benjamin Gate21
- First Gate22
- Joshua Gate23
- Foundation Gate24
Ezekiel 48:31-35 prophesies regarding the twelve gates of the heavenly Jerusalem, the gates of the city shall be named after the tribes of Israel, the three gates northward: one gate for Reuben, one gate for Judah, and one gate for Levi; on the east side, four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Joseph, one gate for Benjamin, and one gate for Dan; on the south side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Simeon, one gate for Issachar, and one gate for Zebulun; on the west side, four thousand five hundred cubits with their three gates: one gate for Gad, one gate for Asher, and one gate for Naphtali. And Revelation 21 not only confirms Ezekiel but also adds some wonderful details:
- The city has a great and high wall with twelve angels at the gates, and names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel written on them.
- The twelve gates are twelve pearls, with each individual gate being one pearl.
- The gates shall not be shut by day, and there shall be no night there.
- Those who follow His commandments will be given the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
Crystal Ross experienced an encounter with the LORD as He showed her three of the gates into His heavenly City of Light. When Linda Wright, co-pastor of The Shepherd’s Gate, read her account she was astounded because it revealed exactly what she had also been seeing. She reports that as she read of Crystal’s experience she would think, “Well, surely she’s not going to say this, or that;” but sure enough, the very next sentence would mirror her own experience.
As I looked left and then right I saw that we were standing near the middle of the East side. I observed three massive gates, each spaced a great distance apart. I wondered just how far and Jesus responded to my unspoken question aloud saying, “Almost 500 Earth miles between them.”
Before me was the most amazing sight I have ever beheld—Above me, so high that it’s top disappeared into celestial pink and cream heavenly clouds, was a gate made of a single pearl. This was not a gate comprised of pearls that were crushed up or laid together in some pattern to make a gate this massive…no! It was a solid single pearl making up this one gate. I wondered if the other gates were made of single pearls and I looked at Jesus for the answer and He replied again to my unspoken question, “Yes!!”
I stood there looking up. My vision had been supernaturally enhanced so that I could not only see down the entire length of the wall, from left to right, but also all the way up to the top of the wall—
the entirety of the massive single gate of pearl.
The waves of light emanating out from within the Gate of Pearl were tangible—a little like seeing the faint lines of a mirage shimmering ahead in the road on a hot summer’s day.
This gate had a round seal on it upon which was written, “The Gate of Judah”. The seal was situated on the middle of the Pearl, taking up ¼ of the width of the pearl. Inscribed in the middle of the emblem were etchings of glowing light, which spelled out the name, and underneath it was the inscription continued “…of the City of Light.” There was also an etching of an almost imperceptible figure of a lion with three small cubs at its feet at the base of a rock. The lion was facing towards the right with its left paw up on the rock and its right paw overshadowing the three cubs. It was looking in the direction in which the gate opened (from right to left). The mane of the lion seemed especially beautiful to me, with waved etchings that glowed and almost seemed to lift off the pearl, like love waves blowing in the gentle, celestial wind. The Lion seemed to be getting ready to roar with his mouth was open, as if ready to let out a full roar.
I glanced over at Jesus. He was smiling. He seemed to be enjoying me discovering all the details of the majesty of beauty of the City of His Light as much as I was. He broke into my thoughts asking, “Do you know why I brought you to this gate first?”
I answered, “No, why?”
Jesus replied, “It is because everyone I have created belongs to one of these tribes symbolically, even Adam and Eve. Everyone that comes to Our City of Light will enter through the individual gate to which they symbolically belong.”
This was an interesting fact to me, because for years I have felt a special kinship to the tribe of Judah. One of the verses I really like which talks about Judah is, “Send Judah first and the battle will be won.”
Then Jesus interrupted my thoughts again with this statement, “You are attached to the Tribe of Judah spiritually, and it is this very gate to which you shall come when you come home to stay.”
Another detail which surprised me was that the color of the pearl was not stark heavenly white or cream, but was a golden gossamer amber, much the color of a lion shining in the sun. It was not a solid golden color, but was like golden amber swirled with the mix of angel’s wings and celestial clouds. In a word, astonishing!!!
Jesus asked me if I would like to see the two other gates and I enthusiastically responded, “Yes! Let’s go!”
He took me to a gate on our right. It was exactly the same size as the Gate of Judah but the color was slightly different. On this gate was inscribed, “The Gate of Issachar.” And below that inscription, as on the Gate of Judah, it read, “…of the City of Light.” The color of the pearl was a very soft opalescent pearl/gray of the lightest shade, with the same swirling gossamer angelic wing pattern interspersed. The swirling pattern made it look as if it had been polished in millions of round swirls until it shone and glowed. The etched figure to the right of the name crest was a donkey standing with full packs on both sides. It was facing to the right, as the lion had been, but was standing on level ground.
Then Jesus took me back across in front of the Gate of Judah and over another gate which was labeled, “The Gate of Zebulun,” and it was just like the other two. The color of this pearl was tinted the tiniest, slightest, breathy color of azure blue; more like breath and wind than color. It was like looking at the color of the bluest sky on the brightest day. Like the others, it had the unmistakable swirls of angel wings and celestial clouds within the color of the pearl. The symbol to the right of the name crest was a large ship with a single mast sail. The sail appeared as if it had breath in it, and was facing towards the east in the same direction as the other gate symbols. The ship was sitting in the middle of a sea with mighty waves, and it was perched in a slanted fashion near the crest of the wave, as if having total mastery of it.
All of the gates were very beautiful, but I was partial to the Gate of Judah. The lion appeared very protective of the three little cubs and the color of it was like the burnished gold which decorates much in those realms—royal and lovely. As Jesus and I began walking we ended up supernaturally back at the Gate of Judah in just a few minutes.
Around the beginning of 2011, Paul Cox began experiencing new revelation through his gift of discernment regarding gates. In ministry sessions he and his intercessors started feeling and seeing gates around the people for whom they were praying. One young man was seeing the gates on every cell, not knowing of the biological truth of his vision. So, following the admonition of Hebrews 5:14 to train our senses, Paul began practicing his discernment of gates. When they manifested in a prayer session he would ask the Lord to close the ungodly ones and open the righteous ones. When he started feeling gates all over and around his own body, he also began closing those, and experienced physical healing when a long-standing bump one of his fingers disappeared overnight after a gate was closed. When I learned of this I began asking the LORD to close any ungodly gates around the people I prayed for, even though I didn’t always see or sense them; and over and over these people have reported that they can see gates closing in the spiritual realms—sometimes hundreds of them. Just today, after praying with someone regarding generational issues, I asked the LORD to close all ungodly gates that no longer had a right to remain open and to open the righteous ones; and then the person I was praying for invited the King of Glory to come in through those gates. I asked Jesus to show her what He had done and she was astounded by a vision of herself standing on dry ground at the bottom of a dam that was similar in size to Hoover Dam. As the floodgates were opened, she was engulfed in a rush of water with a current so strong it should have swept her away, but she was able to stand strong in the midst of it.
One evening in January 2011, as Paul and Donna Cox, my husband and I were praying for Donna because she was about to have surgery, Paul discerned a gate. As he explored it, he determined that was really two gates with one opening in each direction—one in and one out—and he thought it might have to do with past and future events. Doing further research the next day, I was led to information regarding Janus, the Roman god of gates for whom January is named. Interestingly, he is most often depicted as having two heads facing opposite directions; one head looks back at the last year while the other looks forward to the new, simultaneously into the future and the past.25
On that same evening, Paul then discerned that there were such gates in front of each one of us. We began asking the LORD what this could mean and it was revealed to us that they were unrighteous gates that had been opened by gossip that had been spoken against us. As we sought to understand this more clearly it became evident that three of us had gates opened by a specific individual while one did not; and that all of us had gates that had been opened by a second individual. So, it seems more evident than ever before that we must diligently guard our speech, heeding the admonition of James 3:5-6, Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. I’m certain that we have very little comprehension of the power of our spoken words to open and/or close gates—gates of righteousness as well as those of unrighteousness. Perhaps unrighteousness is able to come and go in generational lines via ungodly gates that have been opened by sin, so let us determine always to speak blessings rather than curses.
It appears obvious that, as in all things He created, God’s original intent was for gates to be good. Unfortunately the righteous purposes for which they were designed are often corrupted by evil as ungodly men demand their own ways. The ongoing struggle of good versus evil that is so evident today was evidenced thousands of years ago when the godly King Josiah brought all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; also he broke down the high places at the gates which were at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were to the left of the city gate. Then, as now, those determined not to follow God continued upon their evil path; Nevertheless, the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brethren.26 But we, like Josiah, have a mandate regarding gates:
- Psalm 100:4—Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise.
- Proverbs 8:34— Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at the posts of my doors.
- Amos 5:15—Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate.
- Zechariah 8:16—These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace.
- Matthew 7:13-14—Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
We are also instructed to enter into covenant, peace, and the joy of the LORD, all likely examples of the gates of righteousness. Look again at Matthew 7:13-14 and take note of the truth that we are called to choose the narrow gate—the difficult path. How sad that we live in a society that is so pleasure oriented that we are conditioned to look for short cuts and easy answers. How sad that many of us are so focused on our rights and/or entitlements that if we look honestly at our lives we might be surprised to see that we are on a broad way. Individually, and corporately as the church of the Living God, we must wake up to our responsibilities at the gates—we must make the righteous choices. Otherwise, we may soon find ourselves identifying too closely with the sorrowful lament over Jerusalem, Her gates have sunk into the ground; He has destroyed and broken her bars. Her king and her princes are among the nations; The Law is no more, And her prophets find no vision from the LORD.28 We can look to Jesus as our example—he made the tough decisions so we can be free. Rather than seeking sanctuary inside the gates of heaven, Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.29
Everything that exists around the throne of God is alive; and today those who are caught up into the heavens in much the same way as Ezekiel, the Apostle Paul or John the Revelator were, frequently report that everything they see is living. So it only makes sense that gates of righteousness, like everything else originally created by God, are infused with life. More than once, gates are personified in scripture:
- Isaiah 3:26a—Her gates shall lament and mourn.Isaiah 14:31—Wail. O gate! Cry, O city!
- Jeremiah 14:2—Judah mourns, And her gates languish; They mourn for the land, And the cry of Jerusalem has gone up.
- Psalm 24:7-10 begins to make a lot more sense to me than it did as a child in Vacation Bible School, and I often notice that my spirit is crying out, Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.30
1 Psalm 24:7-10
3 Genesis 28:17, Job 17:16, Job 38:17, Psalm 107:18, Psalm 118:19-20, Matthew 16:18, Revelation 21
4 John 10:27
5 Ezekiel 44:1-2
7 Nehemiah 3:1, 32: 12:39, John 5:2
8 2 Chronicles 33:14; Nehemiah 3:3, 12:39; Zephaniah 1:10
9 Nehemiah 3:6; 12:39
10 2 Chronicles 26:9; Nehemiah 2:13; 3:13
11 Nehemiah 3:13,14: 12:31; Jeremiah 19:2
13 Nehemiah 3:15; 12:37
14 Nehemiah 3:26; 8:3; 12:37
15 Nehemiah 3:28; Jeremiah 31:40
16 Nehemiah 3:29
17 Nehemiah 3:31
18 2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chronicles 25:23; Nehemiah 8:16; 12:39
19 2 kings 11:6,19: Nehemiah 12:39; Acts 12:10
20 2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chronicles 25:23; 26:9; Jeremiah 31:38; Zechariah 14:10
21 Jeremiah 20:2; 37:13; 38:7; Ezekiel 48:32; Zechariah 14:10
22 Zechariah 14:10
23 Joshua 8:29; 2 Kings 23:8
24 2 Chronicles 23:5
26 2 Kings 23:8-9
27 Deuteronomy 29:12; Isaiah 57:2; Matthew 25:21,23
28 Lamentations 2:9
29 Hebrews 13:12
30 Psalm 24:7-10