We are on day 13 of blogging through the Bible using the Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan
In this chapter Abram rescues Lot who has been captured by some kings, using 318 men. (I love the odd little details you sometimes get!)
After the battle the mysterious Melchizedek King of Salem comes to meet Abram. This King who is a High Priest seems to be a christophany – an appearance of Crist pre the incarnation. Psalm 110 makes him a Messianic figure and Hebrews declares Jesus to be our high priest in the order of Melchizedek forever.
Abram gives him a tenth of evrything as a freewill offering – so the practice of tithing predates the law.
I love chapter 3 – it’s genius! Nehemiah gets the small group of people (think church plant like us) to start building. Part of the genius is that each build near where they live – so he plays on their vested interest. As the names of people involve build up you get this sense that individual people matter to God and can play a great part in the task at hand. And you get this sense that in the early stage, everyone has to get stuck in – the dung gate is repaired by the ruler of the Beth Hakkerem district v14, a goldsmith repairs a section, merchants another, the high priest another. Everyone gets stuck in, during this the early stage when they are small to get it done. The only shameful bit is v5 the nobles of Tekoa wouldn’t put their shoulders to it.
I labour that because we, The Gateway, are small, we have had a tough time, some opposition, some leaving and some stepping out of the game. My little david was commenting negatively about the numbers – and Jan taught him that scripture about not despising the day of small beginnings.
God has reminded us of His promises to us to be a gateway for the gospel to go to the nations, we have a great core team that is knitted in heart and that will give us the security to grow. But we need to rebuild the walls, we need to get stuck in. Janet is getting exhausted teaching the kids every week, Andy is leading most weeks. Like Nehemiah to rebuild we need to get stuck in, the goldsmiths, merchants and rulers all building the walls, rather than just waiting to use their gift. Soon as we grow, it’ll be about serving your gift, but for now some walls need building to give security and allow for growth. Maybe you can serve with kids, worship, youth or the international café. This will be a great Church – a gateway for the gospel to go to the nations! Let’s build some walls!
The order of the work is interesting too
The sheep gate – where the sheep for sacrificing were brought in. That signifies Jesus the lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sin. The cross is the start point and the place we start building from. It’s all about Jesus!
The fish gate came next – Jesus told the twelve “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. We are called to tell our friends and families about Jesus. Is the fish gate crumbled in your life? If it is you will find the enemy entering time and again through it. Rebuild it, be a witness!
The old gate came next – symbolising truth – Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing new under the sun. At a our church, we are aiming to restore the truth, doing church like it tells us in the Bible. The whole Women bishops thing this week has been about being modern not being true to scripture. Newfrontiers stands worryingly fairly lonely in its holding on to Paul’s teach that governmental authority in the church, elders, is a male calling, while releasing women to do everything else – because we see deaconesses at work in the New Testament and prophetesses and all sorts.
The next gate was the Valley gate – which is about humility – having a high opinion of others, honouring and preferring others and the highest opinion about God.
Then there is the fountain gate – Jesus told the Samaritan women that the water I shall give you is a fountain welling up to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is river bubbling up within. Are you filled with the Spirit, are you ongoing getting filled – He is the source of power and refreshment and joy. If those are lacking then the fountain gate in your life needs rebuilding!
The water gate came next.Nothing to do with Nixon and Chuck Colson, but a symbol of the word of God. Interestingly that isn’t mentioned and didn’t need repairing! It just need reinhabiting!
The east gate came next facing the rising sun and is the gate of hope. The gate of anticipation of what is yet to come. If you have got pessimistic about your own life, the church or God ever changing our nation, this gate needs repairing.
The horse gate is about warfare, because horses are symbolic of warfare in Scripture. We are in a spiritual war and the devil attacks especially when we arise with disunity, disinformation, ridicule and so on. Be aware of his schemes and don’t allow him to try and prise apart the living stones that we are glued together by the Spirit of God.
Then came the Inspection gate – where judgement happened. Every now and again you need to stop and look at yourself. I took some time for a day of prayer to seek God and evaluate what has happened and got fresh encouragement from God.
Then chapter 3 finishes back at the sheep gate – because the cross is the beginning and end of our life in God.
The parable of the sower – the farmer is scattering seed – come on folks let’s scatter gospel seed wherever we can!
The most quoted bit of Isaiah is here to “You will be ver hearing but not understanding…” You’ve got to remember that the gospels were written to churches to be used among believers and non-believers and that Scriptures gives comfort when evangelism is hard and persecution is starting.
The mission of God continues to spread – at a time of prayer and fasting Paul and Barnabus are sent off on mission. What great things still happen at days of prayer and fasting/feasting!
They first go to Cyprus where Paul ends up cursing a sorcerer
They move on to Psidian Antioch whete Paul preaches in the synagogues. Some become disciples, bit the Jews stir up trouble so they have to leave and go solely to the Gentiles – “all who were appointed for eternal life believed”. We have no idea who will get saved – only God knows, but we are called to scatter seed and share the Gospel widely. Who will you talk to this week?