Mark followed on from Stephen’s sermon last week on rebuilding broken walls by looking at ‘possessing the gates of the enemy’ (Gen 24:60) this morning.

Gates are often found in cities and towns and serve a dual purpose of keeping out enemies and letting people in. Gates separate areas, acting as boundaries. In Biblical times, gates were often the place where business deals were discussed and sorted (see the book of Ruth.) This verse in Genesis forms part of the prayer of blessing on Rebekah’s marriage, for if you possessed the gates of your enemy, then you were the master, in control (and having a large family was also perceived as a great blessing!)

Psalm 24 also looks at the imagery of gates: verses 7 and 9 say “Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” When a king arrived at a city, the gates would be swung wide open to allow him to enter in all his splendour and majesty. Jesus knocks at the gates of our hearts, wanting us to open up our lives fully to Him. This happens initially at salvation, and that doorway leads to everlasting life. As we progress in the Christian life, though, there is a need to keep on opening the doors of our lives to Christ, for there should be no secret gardens, no hidden rooms. Often it gets progressively harder to allow Christ into every area of our lives, for we like to be guarded and on the defensive. We need to allow Him full access, however, for this is the King of Glory, the Lord of hosts, who wants to come in! He is the captain of all the angel armies, Lord of everything on heaven and on earth. We need to give Him entrance to our lives.

Matthew 16:13-19 looks at the words of Jesus in telling us that He will build His church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Just as citizens are given the ‘key to the city’ as an honour, so too Jesus, the Key Keeper, gives us the keys to unlock the enemy’s territories.

Jesus is the Builder of His church; we are the bricks. The gates of hell will not be able to prevail against the Church (see also 1 John 4:4) As we open the gates of our lives to Christ, then we have the power and access to overcome all the enemy would throw against us; we can also plunder His kingdom so that the Light of the World may be seen and lives transformed and rescued!

On an interesting side-note, Psalm 24 has been the inspiration for a number of songs on this theme. You can listen to some of these by clicking on the links below:
Chris Tomlin, ‘King of Glory’
Godfrey Birtill, ‘Lift Up Your Heads’
Kutless, ‘Give Us Clean Hands’
(And that’s not to mention older ones by Graham Kendrick or Chris Bowater! Clearly this psalm’s imagery resonates with songwriters! How many more songs can you name?!)