G AT E K E E P E R S O F T H E
T E M P L E
An Examination of the Role of Gatekeeper in the Old
Testament and its Lesssons for the Christian Life
Today
F. Wayne Mac Leod
Light To My Path Book Distribution
Copyright © 2016 F. Wayne Mac Leod
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the
written permission of the author.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2007
CONTENTS
Title Page
Copyright
Preface
1- The Gatekeepers
2- Guarding the Entrance
3- Protecting Temple Property
4- Temple Finances
5- The Gatekeepers and the Worship of Jehovah
6- A Position of Honour
7- A Picture of Work of the Lord
8- Lessons to Learn from the Gatekeepers of the Temple
About The Author
S
PREFACE
ome years ago, I was studying French in the province of Quebec in
Canada. To help with the learning process, my wife and I attended
a French church. At that time, we did not have enough knowledge
of the language to communicate or even understand the pastors sermon. I
remember feeling quite lost and useless in that church.
The believers met in a local school, and so the hymn books were brought
each week and placed on the desks so that people arriving would be able to
sing. When the service was over, the pastor would gather up those hymn
books and take them home with him. I remember watching him gathering
up the books after the Sunday service. I realized that this was a task I could
do –one that didn’t require that I have a good knowledge of the language.
From that point on, I made it a point to help gather up those hymn books
after church.
What I have never forgotten was the sense of fulfilment and joy I felt in
gathering up those books. I felt as if the Lord had given me a ministry in a
church where I could not communicate verbally. I had a deep sense of
serving the Lord. Somehow, I believe He smiled as I joyfully performed
this task each Sunday.
The roles God calls us to do are not always visible. Sometimes they go
unnoticed. No ministry is unimportant, however. Each part played in the
Christian life is a vital one and needs to be done with a heart of joy and
gratitude to the Lord. The function of the gatekeeper was one of those
duties. People would walk past these men at the entrance of the temple and
hardly notice them. Their role, however, was significant in the overall
functioning of the temple.
Not only was their role essential, but it also has much to teach us about
God’s expectations of us as believers in the church today. I trust that this
study will help us to see the significance of the role of gatekeeper and what
it teaches us about God’s expectations as we seek to live out our Christian
life today.
F. Wayne Mac Leod
T
1- THE GATEKEEPERS
his is a study about the gatekeepers of the temple. I admit it is an
obscure topic. I believe, however, that there are no unimportant
roles to play in the work of the kingdom of God. I am convinced
that these individuals teach us something significant about God and our
walk with Him.
In the most basic terms, the gatekeeper was one who stood at the doors
watching over what came in and out of the temple. The Bible and its
various versions use different terms to describe these workers. Consider the
references below from the English Standard Version of the Bible:
[10] For a day in your courts is better than a thousand
elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my
God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84)
[21] Zechariah the son of Meshelemiah was gatekeeper at the
entrance of the tent of meeting. (1 Chronicles 9)
[4] I brought them to the house of the LORD into the chamber
of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which
was near the chamber of the officials, above the chamber of
Maaseiah the son of Shallum, keeper of the threshold.
(Jeremiah 35)
The ESV version of the Bible uses the terms “doorkeepers,” “gatekeepers,”
and “keeper of the threshold,” to refer to this function in the work of the
temple. The KJV Bible adds the word “porter.”
1 Chronicles 23:2-6 tells us that the role of gatekeeper was not given to just
anyone:
[2] David assembled all the leaders of Israel and the priests
and the Levites. [3] The Levites, thirty years old and upward,
were numbered, and the total was 38,000 men. [4] “Twenty-
four thousand of these,” David said, “shall have charge of the
work in the house of the LORD, 6,000 shall be officers and
judges, [5] 4,000 gatekeepers, and 4,000 shall offer praises to
the LORD with the instruments that I have made for praise.”
[6] And David organized them in divisions corresponding to the
sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. (1 Chronicles 23)
From this passage, we see that King David organized the Priests and
Levites into divisions, each with their various responsibilities. Of the thirty-
eight thousand priests and Levites, four thousand were gatekeepers. Notice
that the gatekeepers were selected from the priests and Levites. The task of
keeping the gates was a function of the Levitical priests of the day. This is
confirmed in 2 Chronicles 34:12-13:
[12] And the men did the work faithfully. Over them were set
Jahath and Obadiah the Levites, of the sons of Merari, and
Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to
have oversight. The Levites, all who were skillful with
instruments of music, [13] were over the burden-bearers and
directed all who did work in every kind of service, and some of
the Levites were scribes and officials and gatekeepers. (2
Chronicles 34)
Notice the phrase, “and some of the Levites were scribes and officials and
gatekeepers.” The implication here is that the role was given only to those
God had chosen to be His priests. They were responsible for what came in
and out of the temple of God.
1 Chronicles 26 tells us that the decision about who would be responsible
for the various gates around the temple was determined by lot:
[12] These divisions of the gatekeepers, corresponding to their
chief men, had duties, just as their brothers did, ministering in
the house of the LORD. [13] And they cast lots by fathers’
houses, small and great alike, for their gates. (1 Chronicles 26)
From 1 Chronicles 26:17-19, we learn about the number of gatekeepers
required to be on duty at the temple every day:
[17] On the east there were six each day, on the north four each
day, on the south four each day, as well as two and two at the
gatehouse. [18] And for the colonnade on the west there were
four at the road and two at the colonnade. [19] These were the
divisions of the gatekeepers among the Korahites and the sons
of Merari. (1 Chronicles 26)
Six gatekeepers worked on the east gate. The north entrance only required
four. In the south, four Levites were stationed at the door and another four
at the gatehouse. Six more men were positioned at the west—four at the
road and two at the colonnade. In total, twenty-four men guarded the
various entrances to the temple every day.
In 1 Samuel 2:22, we have a reference to the sons of Eli and their sin. It
appears that they were having sexual relations with the women “who were
serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.”
[22] Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons
were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who
were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. (1 Samuel
2)
The task these women performed is not clear from the passage. We should
not, however, confuse them with the gatekeepers. The gatekeepers were
chosen from among the Levites and given the role to watch over what came
in and out of the temple. The women described here likely performed many
necessary tasks connected with keeping the entrance of the temple clean
and presentable, but they were not gatekeepers in the conventional sense of
the word.
We have a New Testament reference to a servant girl in the courtyard of the
high priest’s home in Matthew 26:69. It was this servant girl who asked
Peter if he knew the Lord Jesus. She was not an official guard or gatekeeper
but, like the women of Eli’s day, carried out her responsibilities at the
entrance to the priest’s home.
The gifts of God’s people supported the gatekeepers and provided for their
basic needs. This is evident in Nehemiah 12:47:
[47] And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of
Nehemiah gave the daily portions for the singers and the
gatekeepers; and they set apart that which was for the Levites;
and the Levites set apart that which was for the sons of Aaron.
(Nehemiah 12)
These daily portions of food and provisions were stored in chambers in the
temple and used as needed by the priests and gatekeepers.
[4] Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed
over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was
related to Tobiah, [5] prepared for Tobiah a large chamber
where they had previously put the grain offering, the
frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil,
which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and
gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. (Nehemiah
13)
From Jeremiah 35:4, we understand that some gatekeepers lived in
chambers in the temple:
[4] I brought them to the house of the LORD into the chamber
of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which
was near the chamber of the officials, above the chamber of
Maaseiah the son of Shallum, keeper of the threshold.
(Jeremiah 35)
Notice the reference to the “chamber of Maaseiah, the son of Shallum,
keeper of the threshold.” It appears that he had a room in the temple where
he could stay. This is not to say that all gatekeepers lived in the temple.
These men would have their own homes. We do understand, however, that
some rooms were set aside as lodging for gatekeepers and temple officials.
We understand then that some of the Levites were given the responsibility
to be gatekeepers. Each day twenty-four of these Levites were stationed
around the temple watching what came in and out. These gatekeepers were
supported by the gifts of God’s people and exercised an essential role in the
everyday functioning of the work that took place in the temple. In the next
chapters, we will examine the roles these men played in greater detail.
For Consideration:
Why would the temple of God require gatekeepers? What kind of things do
you suppose these men would be keeping out of the temple? What kind of
things would they not allow to leave the temple?
How important was the role of the gatekeeper? Would this have been a
highly sought-after job?
What kind of tasks go unnoticed? How important are those responsibilities?
For Prayer
Take a moment to thank the Lord for individuals in your family, work or
church who faithfully perform ordinary and unnoticed duties that make life
easier for everyone.
Ask the Lord to help you to see the importance of the role He has given you
to play.
O
2- GUARDING THE
ENTRANCE
ne of the responsibilities of the gatekeepers of the temple was to
keep watch at the entrance. There are many reasons why we
might want to guard a property. The first reason has to do with
protecting what is ours. The temple of Solomon was richly decorated with
gold and silver. There were many valuable articles housed inside its walls.
It would be natural for the people of God to protect this from anyone who
wanted to profit from its wealth. This, however, was not the primary reason
for the gatekeepers.
As mentioned in the first chapter, the gatekeepers were priests. If the
concern of the gatekeeper was merely to protect the wealth of the temple,
they could have hired soldiers to watch the doors. The gatekeepers were
Levitical priests for a reason. Their responsibilities were spiritual and
rooted in their understanding of God and His purposes.
The God of the Jews was holy. Speaking to His people through Moses, the
Lord said:
[44] For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves
therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile
yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground.
[45] For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of
Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am
holy.” (Leviticus 11)
This holiness separated God from all that was sinful or unclean. Notice in
the passage above that a person could be defiled by touching an insect that
crawled on the ground. A quick examination of the book of Leviticus shows
us that many things could make a person unclean. Unintentional sins
(Leviticus 4) or deceiving a neighbour (Leviticus 6) would require an
offering for forgiveness. Beyond this, however, a person was impure if he
or she touched any form of human uncleanness (Leviticus 5:3), had a bodily
discharge (Leviticus 12, 15) or skin disease (Leviticus 13). The Law of
Moses required that those who entered the presence of God first be cleansed
of any impurity. To enter the presence of God in an unworthy manner, was
to show great disrespect to God and His temple.
1 Samuel 2:22-25 recounts the story of the sons of Eli, the priest. They
defiled themselves through sexual relations with the women who served at
the entrance of the tabernacle. When Eli heard what his sons were doing, he
rebuked them, but they refused to listen. 1 Samuel 2:25 tells us that God put
Eli’s sons to death. He did so because they defiled the temple and the holy
name they represented through their actions.
Leviticus 15 contains the requirements of God for men who had an
emission of semen or a woman who had her menstrual period. The chapter
concludes with the following warning:
[31] “Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from
their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling
my tabernacle that is in their midst.” [32] This is the law for
him who has a discharge and for him who has an emission of
semen, becoming unclean thereby; [33] also for her who is
unwell with her menstrual impurity, that is, for anyone, male or
female, who has a discharge, and for the man who lies with a
woman who is unclean. (Leviticus 15)
There were severe repercussions for entering the tabernacle without first
being cleansed of bodily discharge. Those who did so defiled the tabernacle
and dishonoured the name of their God. Leviticus 15:31 warns of death to
those who showed such disrespect.
The gatekeepers restricted access to the temple. They did so to protect those
who entered, but more importantly to show respect and honour to the
temple and the God they served. 2 Chronicles 23 is an account of the
reforms that took place under Jehoiada, the priest. Of significance is a
reference in 2 Chronicles 23:19 to the posting of gatekeepers at the gates of
the house of the Lord:
[18] And Jehoiada posted watchmen for the house of the LORD
under the direction of the Levitical priests and the Levites
whom David had organized to be in charge of the house of the
LORD, to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, as it is written in
the Law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, according
to the order of David. [19] He stationed the gatekeepers at the
gates of the house of the LORD so that no one should enter who
was in any way unclean. (2 Chronicles 23)
2 Chronicles 23:19 states that Jehoiada posted gatekeepers at the gates of
the house of the Lord so that “no one should enter who was in any way
unclean.” It was the heart of Jehoiada to respect the holiness of God. The
gatekeepers at the various entrances of the temple were to watch out for
anything that might offend the God of Israel.
Writing in Psalm 24, David says:
[3] Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy
place? [4] He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up
his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
[5] He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the
God of his salvation. (Psalm 24)
David speaks here about the “hill of the Lord.” This is a reference to the
temple that was located at a high point in the city of Jerusalem. He asks the
question, “who shall stand in his holy place?” In other words, what kind of
person can come into the temple to worship the Lord God? David answers
this question in verse 4 but telling us that it is the person who has clean
hands and a pure heart. The one who had not given his soul to what is false
or sworn deceitfully can enter the holy presence of God. It is this person
alone who can expect a blessing from the Lord (verse 5).
As we enter the presence of God, we must respect His holiness. Sin and
uncleanness are repulsive to Him. No one can stand before Him who has
not cleansed of his or her impurity. The sacrifices offered day after day on
the courtyard altar sought to purify those who had defiled themselves.
The gatekeepers were a reminder to Israel of her obligation toward a holy
God. They restricted access to the temple to anyone who was not clean.
They were to be zealous for the honour of God. Nothing was to pass by
them that would defile the temple. Nothing unclean was to blaspheme the
name of their God.
For Consideration:
Why were gatekeepers necessary at the entrance of the temple?
What do we learn here about the holiness of God? Do we understand or
respect this holiness today in our churches? How important is it to
recognize God’s holiness?
How did the gatekeepers remind the people of God about their obligations
as they came to worship?
What kind of impurities can we bring to the worship of God today? How
can we be cleansed of these impurities?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord that, as a holy God, He is separated from all uncleanness
and impurity.
Ask the Lord to search your heart to see if there is any impurity you need to
confess to Him.
Ask the Lord to give you a greater respect for His holiness. Pray that He
would help you to live a life that honours this quality in Him.
W
3- PROTECTING TEMPLE
PROPERTY
e have seen that the gatekeepers were stationed around the
temple watching out for anything that might offend a holy and
righteous God. The responsibility of the gatekeepers did not
end there. We discover that they also had the responsibility to watch over
what entered the temple doors.
People came to the temple regularly with offerings. They brought grain and
financial gifts for the Lord and the work of the temple. The gatekeepers and
priests depended on these contributions for their wages. These donations
were placed in storerooms in the temple and guarded by the gatekeepers.
We have the names of six gatekeepers tasked to care for the storehouses at
the gates in Nehemiah 12:25:
[25] Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and
Akkub were gatekeepers standing guard at the storehouses of
the gates. (Nehemiah 12)
From 1 Chronicles 9, we learn that it was the chief gatekeepers who were
entrusted with the care of the storehouses and treasures of the temple.
[24] The gatekeepers were on the four sides, east, west, north,
and south. [25] And their kinsmen who were in their villages
were obligated to come in every seven days, in turn, to be with
these, [26] for the four chief gatekeepers, who were Levites,
were entrusted to be over the chambers and the treasures of the
house of God. [27] And they lodged around the house of God,
for on them lay the duty of watching, and they had charge of
opening it every morning. (1 Chronicles 9)
These men lived on site while performing their duties, assuring the safety of
the donations. The donations were not the only articles these men guarded.
1 Chronicles 9 goes on to say:
[28] Some of them had charge of the utensils of service, for
they were required to count them when they were brought in
and taken out. [29] Others of them were appointed over the
furniture and over all the holy utensils, also over the fine flour,
the wine, the oil, the incense, and the spices. (1 Chronicles 9)
It is evident from these verses that the responsibility of the gatekeeper was
to watch over the utensils used for sacrifices and other priestly duties. These
utensils would be stored and taken out as needed by the priests. The
gatekeepers would assure that what went out came back and was safely
stored. They also watched over the furniture of the temple, making sure it
was kept safe and in good order. 1 Chronicles 9:29 tells us also that the
supplies needed by the priests such as flour, wine, oil, incense and spices
were also under the responsibility of the chief gatekeepers.
At times repairs would be required. We have a record in Nehemiah 3:29 of
a man by the name of Shemaiah, the keeper of the East Gate. He was
responsible for repairing the city wall in the days of Nehemiah.
[29] After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his
own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the
keeper of the East Gate, repaired. (Nehemiah 3)
The gatekeepers were not always faithful in their duties. The temple was
defiled at times. This may have been because the gatekeepers were lax or
negligent in their duties. Such was the case when Josiah came to the throne
of Israel. The temple of God was in disrepair. To restore the worship of
Jehovah God in his nation, Josiah issued an order to the priests and keepers
of the threshold:
[4] And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the
priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to
bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for
Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned
them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried
their ashes to Bethel. (2 Kings 23)
It was the task of the priests and gatekeepers of Josiah’s day to remove all
defilements from the temple. Notice how the gatekeepers and priests
removed vessels made for Baal, Asherah and the hosts of heaven. This was
an indication that the gatekeepers had not been doing their duty. All these
pagan articles were carried outside the city and burned.
During that reign of the evil Queen Athaliah in Judah, a priest by the name
of Jehoiada determined to restore order to the nation and return it to the
worship of God. To do so, he planned a rebellion against the Queen. His
idea was to replace her with the rightful heir to the throne, the young king
Joash. 2 Chronicles 23:4-6 detail his purpose for the priests and Levites in
this overthrow of the evil queen:
[4] This is the thing that you shall do: of you priests and
Levites who come off duty on the Sabbath, one third shall be
gatekeepers, [5] and one third shall be at the king’s house and
one third at the Gate of the Foundation. And all the people
shall be in the courts of the house of the LORD. [6] Let no one
enter the house of the LORD except the priests and ministering
Levites. They may enter, for they are holy, but all the people
shall keep the charge of the LORD. (2 Chronicles 23)
Notice the function of the gatekeeps in this time of evil. They were to guard
the gates of the house of the Lord so that no one would enter except the
Levites and priests who were holy before the Lord. With gatekeepers in
place, Jehoiada proceeded to anoint Joash as king. When Athaliah heard
about it and came to see what was happening, Jehoiada ordered the soldiers
to kill her. With the evil queen out of the way, Jehoiada and Joash went on
to restore the worship of God in the nation. The gatekeepers had a role to
play in the removal of an evil queen and the restoration of the worship and
service of God.
These verses show us that gatekeepers were not only responsible for
guarding the entrance to the temple, but they also had the care of temple
offerings, utensils and furnishings. Defilements did not always come from
outside the walls of the temple. If what was already in the temple was not
kept secure and in good repair, it hindered the worship of God. Imagine that
offerings could not take place because the utensils required had been lost or
misplaced. Imagine that the offerings of God’s people were spoiled because
they were improperly stored. While the role of gatekeeper may not have
been as noticeable as that of the High Priest, it was nonetheless a vital
ministry.
When defilements did enter the temple, the gatekeepers were involved in
cleaning and restoring the purity of the building and articles of worship so
that the name of God might be honoured. Their work assured that the
worship of God in the temple would be unhindered and that the name of the
Lord was held in high regard.
The God of Israel deserved the highest praise. This meant that He could not
be worshipped carelessly. All the articles used in the adoration and praise of
His name were set aside, kept clean and secure so that nothing would defile
this worship. The service of the gatekeepers was itself an act of worship.
For Consideration:
Can we disrespect God by misusing or abusing what belongs to Him?
Explain.
How can caring for what belongs to God be an act of worship? What has
God given you to care for today?
What kind of defilements enters the church of our day? What do you need
to deal with personally?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to show you if you have been slack in caring for what He has
placed under your responsibility.
Ask God to show you if there are any defilements in your life or church that
need to be removed.
Ask God to give you the grace to be a good gatekeeper over what He has
given you personally.
W
4- TEMPLE FINANCES
e have seen that the gatekeepers were responsible for temple
property. They watched over this property to assure it was in
good condition and accessible to the priests. This ensured the
proper functioning of temple services.
The gatekeepers were not always faithful in their duty. In the days of King
Jehoash, the house of God was in great disrepair. King Jehoash had a
burden to see the temple restored and commanded the priests of his day to
take the offerings of the people and repair the temple:
[4] Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the holy
things that is brought into the house of the LORD, the money
for which each man is assessed—the money from the
assessment of persons—and the money that a man’s heart
prompts him to bring into the house of the LORD, [5] let the
priests take, each from his donor, and let them repair the house
wherever any need of repairs is discovered.” (2 Kings 12)
The king reprimanded Jehoiada, the priest for his neglect of the temple. He
also commanded that all money received as donations be handed over for
repairs:
[7] Therefore King Jehoash summoned Jehoiada the priest and
the other priests and said to them, “Why are you not repairing
the house? Now therefore take no more money from your
donors, but hand it over for the repair of the house.” (2 Kings
12)
What is essential for us to note in 2 Kings 12 is what Jehoiada did in
response to the king’s command.
[9] Then Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in
the lid of it and set it beside the altar on the right side as one
entered the house of the LORD. And the priests who guarded
the threshold put in it all the money that was brought into the
house of the LORD. [10] And whenever they saw that there was
much money in the chest, the king’s secretary and the high
priest came up and they bagged and counted the money that
was found in the house of the LORD. [11] Then they would give
the money that was weighed out into the hands of the workmen
who had the oversight of the house of the LORD. And they paid
it out to the carpenters and the builders who worked on the
house of the LORD, [12] and to the masons and the
stonecutters, as well as to buy timber and quarried stone for
making repairs on the house of the LORD, and for any outlay
for the repairs of the house. (2 Kings 12)
Jehoiada put a chest at the entrance of the house of the Lord. When money
was donated to the temple, the “priests who guarded the threshold”
(gatekeepers) would bring the money and put it in the chest. When the chest
was full, the king’s secretary and the high priest would bag the money and
give it to the workmen for the restoration of the temple. It was the
gatekeepers who were responsible for seeing that the money donated to the
service of God was placed in that chest.
Later, under the leadership of king Josiah, further repairs were required in
the house of the Lord. Listen to the command of King Josiah in 2 Kings
22:4-5:
[4] “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the
money that has been brought into the house of the LORD,
which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the
people. [5] And let it be given into the hand of the workmen
who have the oversight of the house of the LORD, and let them
give it to the workmen who are at the house of the LORD,
repairing the house. (2 Kings 22)
Notice the phrase “count the money that has been brought into the house of
the LORD, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the
people” (2 Kings 22:4). Again, we see from this that the gatekeepers
assured that the financial gifts of God’s people were adequately accounted
for and kept safely for the work of the Lord.
1 Chronicles 9:26 shows us that it was not only the responsibility of the
gatekeeper to receive the gifts of God’s people but also to ensure their
safekeeping. They were to guard the “treasures of the house of God:”
[26] for the four chief gatekeepers, who were Levites, were
entrusted to be over the chambers and the treasures of the
house of God. (1 Chronicles 9)
2 Chronicles 31 teaches us that they were also charged with the
responsibility to distribute those treasures to those who needed them:
[14] And Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, keeper of the east
gate, was over the freewill offerings to God, to apportion the
contribution reserved for the LORD and the most holy
offerings. [15] Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah,
and Shecaniah were faithfully assisting him in the cities of the
priests, to distribute the portions to their brothers, old and
young alike, by divisions (2 Chronicles 31)
Notice that Kore, the keeper of the east gate, was given the task of
distributing the contributions and offerings. A team of priests assisted him
in distributing these gifts to their brothers in various cities.
As you can imagine, the task of gatekeeper required absolute integrity.
Writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul would say:
[10] For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is
through this craving that some have wandered away from the
faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6)
We have all read stories of men and women who have abused their position
of trust because of their love for money. The people of God entrusted their
finances into the hands of these gatekeepers who saw to it that their gifts
were safely stored, accounted for, and distributed as intended. It was their
duty to guarantee that every donation, no matter how small, was used for
the glory of God.
In the days leading up to the death of the Lord Jesus, He and His disciples
were at that home of Lazarus. Mary, his sister, took some costly perfume
and anointed the feet of Jesus. While this was a prophetic statement about
that death of Jesus, Judas objected to Mary’s extravagance, claiming that it
would have been better to sell the perfume and give the money to the poor:
[4] But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about
to betray him), said, [5] “Why was this ointment not sold for
three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (John 12)
Notice, however, the motivation behind the objection of Judas:
[6] He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but
because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he
used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12)
Judas was a gatekeeper of sorts. He received and safeguarded the donations
given for the work of the Lord Jesus and His disciples. The problem was
that his love for money was such that he would help himself to what was in
the moneybag. He was not trustworthy.
The work of God requires reliable gatekeepers. The task will not
accomplished without the generous contributions of God’s people. We need
men and women of confidence to assure that the donations of God’s people
are kept for the purpose intended and distributed faithfully to accomplish
the goal for which they were given.
For Consideration:
How was the position of gatekeeper a position of trust? What would be the
result if gatekeepers were not trustworthy?
How essential were the contributions of God’s people for the work of
ministry in the Old Testament period? How significant are these
contributions today?
What has God given you personally? Are you accountable to Him for the
use and safekeeping of the gifts He has given? Have you been faithful?
The task of the gatekeeper was to assure that all contributions were
distributed to those for whom they were intended. Have you been faithful to
see that what the Lord has given you has been given to those who need it?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord for what He has entrusted into your care. Ask Him to help
you to be faithful in getting what He has assigned to you to those who need
it.
The gatekeeper did not own what was contributed; he was merely to watch
over it and assure that those for whom it was intended received the benefit.
Ask the Lord to give you this heart. Ask Him to forgive you for believing
that what we have received is for us alone.
Ask God to give you absolute integrity in the handling of the gifts He has
given you.
Pray for the men and women in your church who have responsibility for the
finances. Pray that God would give them victory over any temptation to
dishonesty and greed.
W
5- THE GATEKEEPERS
AND THE WORSHIP OF
JEHOVAH
hile the role of the gatekeeper was a “behind the scenes” role,
it was nonetheless a vital one. The significance of their
responsibilities became quite evident in the worship of Israel.
1 Chronicles 16 recounts the story of how David brought the Ark of the
Covenant to Jerusalem and placed it in a tent. This was a significant event
in the history of the city. It was over this Ark that that Lord God revealed
His presence in the temple. Speaking to Moses, the Lord said:
[22] There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat,
from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the
testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in
commandment for the people of Israel. (Exodus 25)
God told Moses that He would meet with him at that ark. From there, He
would speak to Him and reveal His purpose for the nation. The ark
contained a copy of the ten commandments given to Moses. The Ark of the
Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place in the
temple. This place was so holy that even the priests could not enter lest they
die:
[2] and the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not
to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before
the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I
will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. (Leviticus 16)
The writer to the Hebrews teaches us that the High Priest alone could go
into the Holy of Holies. He did this only once a year to perform his duties
before the ark. Before doing so, however, he had to purify himself to be
sure he brought no defilement before God in this most holy place.
[6] These preparations having thus been made, the priests go
regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties,
[7] but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but
once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for
himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. (Hebrews
9)
The Ark of the Covenant was so crucial to the worship of Jehovah that
according to 1 Chronicles 16:37-38, David assigned gatekeepers to watch
over it.
[37] So David left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark
of the covenant of the LORD to minister regularly before the
ark as each day required, [38] and also Obed-edom and his
sixty-eight brothers, while Obed-edom, the son of Jeduthun,
and Hosah were to be gatekeepers. (1 Chronicles 16)
Obed-edom and Hosah were to be gatekeepers of the ark (verse 38). Their
task was to protect the ark at a distance assuring that nothing would enter
the Holy of Holies to defile it.
It is interesting to note that when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into
Jerusalem for the first time, it was accompanied by priests and singers who
played on musical instruments. Harps, lyres and cymbals offered loud
praise to God as the Ark approached the city (1 Chronicles 15:16). In the
middle of this celebration, however, we also find the gatekeepers:
[23] Berechiah and Elkanah were to be gatekeepers for the ark.
[24] Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah,
Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, should blow the trumpets
before the ark of God. Obed-edom and Jehiah were to be
gatekeepers for the ark. (1 Chronicles 15)
Notice the reference to gatekeepers twice in these two verses. They were an
essential part of the worship of God that day.
2 Chronicles 35 recounts the history of the revival that took place under
King Josiah of Judah. After cleansing the land of its impurities, the king
ordered the celebration of the Passover. This Passover was like no other
Passover:
[18] No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days
of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such
a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the
Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the
inhabitants of Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 35)
As the celebrations of that day began, we read in verse 15:
[15] The singers, the sons of Asaph, were in their place
according to the command of David, and Asaph, and Heman,
and Jeduthun the king’s seer; and the gatekeepers were at each
gate. They did not need to depart from their service, for their
brothers the Levites prepared for them. (2 Chronicles 35:15)
The singers and gatekeepers were in place as the celebrations began. Each
had their role in the worship of Jehovah. The singers praised His name in
song. The gatekeepers watched for anything that would offend His holy
presence. This was their act of worship. It was an essential service to the
community. Nothing would drive the presence of God from their midst like
sin and evil. These men stood guard, assuring that the Lord was worshipped
in the “splendour of holiness” (see 1 Chronicles 16:29).
The Ark of the Covenant was not the only article in the temple for which
the gatekeepers were responsible. 1 Chronicles 9 lists the responsibly of the
gatekeepers:
[28] Some of them had charge of the utensils of service, for
they were required to count them when they were brought in
and taken out. [29] Others of them were appointed over the
furniture and over all the holy utensils, also over the fine flour,
the wine, the oil, the incense, and the spices. (1 Chronicles 9)
Many of the articles used for the worship of the Lord were under the care of
that gatekeepers. It was their responsibility to watch over these articles and
assure that they were kept securely and in good condition so the worship of
God would be unhindered.
We should notice here that the task of the gatekeeper was not only to protect
the temple from any desecrations but also to let in those who would bring
joy and gladness to the worship of Jehovah God.
We have a story in 2 Kings 7 about how the Syrians attacked and
surrounded the city of Samaria in the days of Elisha. This event caused
great distress to the inhabitants as the food supplies were cut off. Mothers
resorted to eating their children and despair filled their hearts. Amid this
suffering, the prophet Elisha promised an abundance of food for the city.
While some mocked his prophecy, the fulfilment came when the angel of
the Lord caused the Syrians to hear the sound of an army approaching. This
caused their hearts to fear and, in panic, they abandoned their siege of the
city and fled, unknown to the inhabitants of Samaria.
It was some starving lepers in the region who discovered that Syria had
abandoned its siege, leaving behind an abundance of provisions as Elisha
had prophesied.
Not feeling it was right to leave the city to starve while they basked in
abundance, the lepers approached the gatekeepers of the city to inform them
of what they had discovered.
[9] Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This
day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the
morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore
come; let us go and tell the king’s household.” [10] So they
came and called to the gatekeepers of the city and told them,
“We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no
one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied and
the donkeys tied and the tents as they were.” [11] Then the
gatekeepers called out, and it was told within the king’s
household. (2 Kings 7)
It was the gatekeepers who announced to the inhabitants of the city that the
prophesy of Elisha had come true. The result was that the city went out and
brought back provisions of food. The lives of the inhabitants of Samaria
were saved. The gatekeepers announced the good news that brought their
salvation. The report these gatekeepers gave cause for the citizens of
Samaria to give praise and honour to their God who had provided for their
need.
The gatekeepers played a vital role in the worship of God. They
safeguarded the sacred articles of the temple and kept them from
defilement. They stood guard as the people praised and gave thanks to the
Lord for His goodness. For the Old Testament believer, the worship of God
was not taken lightly. They set a guard around the worship of Jehovah.
Gatekeepers were charged to stand watch as the people worshiped their God
so that no distraction or defilement would hinder the praise of His name.
For Consideration:
In what way was the Ark of the Covenant central in the worship of the Lord
God? What responsibilities did the gatekeepers have toward the Ark?
What role did the gatekeepers have in preserving the integrity and purity of
worship? How significant was this role?
Why is it essential to guard our worship of God? What kind of distractions
can enter our worship of His name?
For Prayer:
Take a moment to thank the Lord that He is worthy of our sincere worship.
Ask the Lord to show you if anything is distracting you in the praise of His
name. Pray that these distractions will be removed.
Ask the Lord to guard the purity of worship in your church? Ask Him to
raise up man and women of faith who can warn us of distractions and errors
in our worship.
T
6- A POSITION OF
HONOUR
he role of the gatekeeper was, for the most part, unnoticed. It was a
service role to the other priests, who were more visible in the
temple. This is not to say, however, that their position was not an
honourable one.
In 1 Chronicles 6:31-33, we have a list of priests given the responsibility for
music in the worship of the temple. Among those listed were the sons of
Korah (verse 33). According to 1 Chronicles 9, these sons of Korah were
known as the Korahites and were tasked with the responsibility of being
“keepers of the threshold” or gatekeepers.
[19] Shallum the son of Kore, son of Ebiasaph, son of Korah,
and his kinsmen of his fathers’ house, the Korahites, were in
charge of the work of the service, keepers of the thresholds of
the tent, as their fathers had been in charge of the camp of the
LORD, keepers of the entrance. (1 Chronicles 9)
These Korahite gatekeepers were also involved in the temple music. As
musicians, they composed eleven psalms (see Psalm 42, 44-49,84-85, 87-
88). Of note is Psalm 84, where they speak about their role as gatekeepers.
[10] For a day in your courts is better than a thousand
elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my
God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84)
The Korahites saw their role as gatekeepers to be an honourable one.
Standing at the door of the house of the Lord was better than living in the
luxury of wickedness. One day serving in the court of the house of God was
better than a thousand days serving anywhere else. They felt privileged to
play a role in the worship of the Lord God as gatekeepers.
Many years ago, I attended a French church as part of my language
preparation for serving in Mauritius and Reunion. In those early days of
language study, I was unable to understand that message or even speak with
the members of the church. I felt useless. The church was meeting in a
school at that time. I remember watching the pastor gather up the hymn
books after the service and felt the Lord speaking to me about helping with
this. I remember to this day the joy I had on Sundays to serve in this way. I
believed that this was the ministry the Lord had given me in that church. As
I read Psalm 84:10, I get this sense of joy in the hearts of the sons of Korah.
They delighted in the work they had been given and served with all their
heart.
When Ezra was commissioned to return from Babylon to Jerusalem to teach
the Jews who had returned to build the city, he did not go alone. Ezra 7:7
tells us that he brought with him priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and
temple servants:
[7] And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of
Artaxerxes the king, some of the people of Israel, and some of
the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the
temple servants. (Ezra 7)
Ezra believed in the importance of gatekeepers in the worship of God.
Nehemiah also was a leader in the reconstruction of the city of Jerusalem
after the exile. In Nehemiah 7, we read that the Lord put it on his heart to
make a list of those who had returned from exile to Jerusalem to help in the
rebuilding of the nation:
[5] Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles
and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy.
And I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up at
the first, and I found written in it: (Nehemiah 7)
In that list, we discover the following:
[45] The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the
sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons
of Shobai, 138. (Nehemiah 7)
Six families of gatekeepers responded to the call to return from exile to be
involved in the reestablishment of the nation of Israel. One hundred and
thirty-eight gatekeepers were among those who resettled in the ruined city
of Jerusalem.
The people who returned from exile settled in various parts of the nation of
Israel. In Nehemiah 11 it was determined that the population of the city of
Jerusalem needed to be increased to defend and manage its affairs. The
leaders of the people were living in Jerusalem, but many of the people were
living outside the city where they could make a living off the land.
Remember that the city had been burned and left in ruins by their enemies.
Life in Jerusalem would have been somewhat challenging in those early
days of rebuilding.
The people decided that they would cast lots to see who would live in the
city. One out of ten families were chosen by lot to live in Jerusalem. The
rest would live elsewhere in the nation.
[11:1] Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem. And
the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in
Jerusalem the holy city, while nine out of ten remained in the
other towns. [2] And the people blessed all the men who
willingly offered to live in Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 11)
Notice in Nehemiah 11 that the people blessed those who willingly offered
to live in Jerusalem. They recognized that this decision would not be easy
as there would have been many inconveniences, at least until everything
was restored. Among those chosen to live in the city of Jerusalem in those
days were one hundred and seventy-two gatekeepers:
[19] The gatekeepers, Akkub, Talmon and their brothers, who
kept watch at the gates, were 172. [20] And the rest of Israel,
and of the priests and the Levites, were in all the towns of
Judah, every one in his inheritance. (Nehemiah 11)
These gatekeepers willingly offered to serve their brothers and sisters by
settling in the city. The citizens of Israel respected the humble servant
attitude of the gatekeepers.
2 Kings 25 tells us what took place in Jerusalem when the Babylonians
invaded and sent the Israelites into captivity. Nebuzaradan burned the
temple, the king’s palace and the other homes in the city of Jerusalem (2
Kings 25:8-9). He stripped the temple of its treasures and carried them off
with him to Babylon (2 Kings 25:13-16). He also took the key leaders of the
city captive and brought them with him to Babylon to present them to the
Babylonian king. 2 Kings 25:18-20 is a list of these officials:
[18] And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest
and Zephaniah the second priest and the three keepers of the
threshold; [19] and from the city he took an officer who had
been in command of the men of war, and five men of the king’s
council who were found in the city; and the secretary of the
commander of the army, who mustered the people of the land;
and sixty men of the people of the land, who were found in the
city. [20] And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them
and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. [21] And
the king of Babylon struck them down and put them to death at
Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was taken into exile out
of its land. (2 Kings 25)
Among those taken into captivity were both religious and political leaders.
Here is the list of men presented to the king of Babylon:
1. An officer in command of the men of war
2. Five men from the King’s council
3. The secretary of the army commander
4. The high priest Seraiah
5. Zephaniah, the second priest
6. Three keepers of the threshold (gatekeepers)
7. 60 men of the people
Notice that among these officials were three gatekeepers. They were taken
along with the two highest ranking priests at that time. All these men were
put to death by the king of Babylon.
The gatekeepers of the Temple were men of honour who certainly left their
mark. Among them were the psalmists of Israel who composed psalms for
the worship of God. They volunteered their time and efforts in the
reconstruction of the nation of Israel after the enemy destroyed it. They
were among those who willingly offered to settle and defend the city of
Jerusalem in the early days of its resettlement. Finally, at least three of them
lost their lives as they stood proudly before the king of Babylon with the
other officials of Israel. They saw it as a privilege to be a “doorkeeper in the
house of the Lord” (Psalm 84:10). Their humble attitude in a service role is
one we need to see today.
For Consideration:
The gatekeepers role was a humble but honourable role. Do we recognize
the significance of people in our day who have this kind of position in the
church?
Psalm 84:10 shows us the attitude of a gatekeeper toward his humble
position. What does this psalm teach us about how blessed the psalmist felt
in his status as a keeper of the threshold? What is your attitude toward the
role God has given you in His kingdom?
What evidence do we have in this chapter of the servant attitude of the
gatekeeper? What challenge does this bring us today as servants of God?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to give you the grace to accept and delight in the role He has
given you in the advancement of the kingdom.
Take a moment to pray that the Lord would help you to be a willing servant,
ready to sacrifice your all for the blessing of His people and the glory of His
name.
Thank the Lord for men and women in your church and community who
serve with no need for attention or affirmation. Ask the Lord to bless these
humble servants.
T
7- A PICTURE OF WORK
OF THE LORD
he gatekeepers of the Old Testament not only served a vital role in
the worship of God, but their position has something to teach us
about the heart of God for the lives of His people.
The apostle Paul had this to say to the Corinthians:
[19] Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy
Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your
own. (1 Corinthians 6)
What it the temple of God today? According to Paul, the bodies of believers
are temples of the Holy Spirit who lives within. If our bodies are temples of
the Holy Spirit, they need to be kept from defilement just as the temple of
God in the Old Testament. This requires a gatekeeper.
Speaking about his suffering for the Gospel, the apostle Paul told Timothy:
[12] which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I
know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able
to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. (2
Timothy 1)
The apostle Paul suffered much for the gospel of Jesus Christ, but he was
not afraid for he knew that the Lord God would guard what he had
entrusted to him. Paul knew that, as a temple of the Holy Spirit, God had
placed His Holy Spirit in him, and now God was working out His purpose
in the temple of Paul’s body. That purpose of God was so sacred that God
Himself chose to guard it. God stood as gatekeeper over the work He was
doing in the heart and life of the apostle.
This idea of God as a gatekeeper brought great comfort to Paul as it did to
Solomon. Listen to the words of Solomon in Psalm 127:
A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. [127:1] Unless the LORD
builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the
LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
[2] It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating
the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
(Psalm 127)
Solomon knew that he could post watchmen at the gates of his city, but
unless the Lord watched over the city, the work of these guards was in vain.
The only way Solomon could sleep well and secure at night was in the
assurance that the Lord God, Himself acted as the gatekeeper of his city.
The apostle Paul shared this same bold confidence. He was assured that
God would keep what He had entrusted Him. His salvation was assured
because God stood guard at the gate of his earthly temple.
Isaiah adds another dimension to this thought when he says:
[9] “For my name’s sake I defer my anger; for the sake of my
praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. [10]
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in
the furnace of affliction. [11] For my own sake, for my own
sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I
will not give to another. (Isaiah 48)
Notice what God says through the prophet here. He told His people that He
would restrain His anger for the sake of His praise. He would not allow His
name to be profaned, nor would he give His glory to another. The task of
the gatekeeper was to honour the name of the Lord God by restricting the
access to that temple. They kept out anything that hindered the praise of the
Lord God. This is what the Lord said He would do for Israel. He would
restrain His anger lest it cause His people to cease offering Him praise.
Consider the words of the Lord God to Hosea concerning Israel:
[5] For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived
them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my
lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my
flax, my oil and my drink.’ [6] Therefore I will hedge up her
way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she
cannot find her paths. [7] She shall pursue her lovers but not
overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them.
Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for
it was better for me then than now.’ [8] And she did not know
that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and
who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.
(Hosea 2)
Through His servant Hosea, the Lord told his wandering and unfaithful
people that He would not allow them to continue in rebellion against Him.
He would pursue and overtake them. In the end, they would return to the
Lord their God and praise Him for His bounty and mercy. As the gatekeeper
actively pursued anything that would defile the worship of God, so the Lord
God seeks to remove anything in us that would keep us from bringing Him
the honour and praise He deserves.
In Isaiah 48:10, quoted above we see that God told His people that He had
refined them
[10] Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried
you in the furnace of affliction. [11] For my own sake, for my
own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My
glory I will not give to another. (Isaiah 48)
It was the duty of the gatekeepers not only to protect the temple but also
make sure that its utensils and articles used in worship were in good repair.
Notice what God told Isaiah in chapter 48 of his prophecy. God told him
that He had refined his people in the furnace of affliction. God took it on
Himself to purify and cleanse His people of their sin and defilements so that
they could be true worshippers of His name. Of course, the best example of
the passion of God in this regard is the death of His Son, the Lord Jesus,
who assured our pardon and cleansing.
Listen to what the Lord God has to say through His servant Ezekiel:
[25] I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean
from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will
cleanse you. [26] And I will give you a new heart, and a new
spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone
from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. [27] And I will
put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes
and be careful to obey my rules. [28] You shall dwell in the
land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people,
and I will be your God. [29] And I will deliver you from all
your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it
abundant and lay no famine upon you. (Ezekiel 36)
God promises to cleanse us from our uncleanness and put a new heart and
spirit in us. This is a task that the Lord God takes on Himself. Indeed, if He
did not take this task on Himself, we would have no hope of being clean
before Him. As our gatekeeper, the Lord God stands guard over us,
protecting us from evil and cleansing our impurities so that we can worship
Him in purity and integrity.
The Scripture often speaks about how the Lord God watches over His
people and what He has entrusted to them. The writer of Proverbs, writing
about a God who knows all things says this:
[12] If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he
who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch
over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to
his work? (Proverbs 24)
Notice the question the writer asks here: “Does not he who keeps watch
over the soul know it?” God watches over our souls. He has an interest in
our spiritual life. He knows every detail about the condition of our soul and
commits Himself to care and to look after us.
Psalm 121 promises that God will keep us from evil:
[7] The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your
life. (Psalm 121)
It was the prayer of Jesus to the Father that He would protect those who
belonged to Him from the evil one:
[15] I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that
you keep them from the evil one. (John 17)
King David not only understood that God was his gatekeeper, but he prayed
that God would keep watch over the door of his lips.
[3] Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the
door of my lips! [4] Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to
busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work
iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! (Psalm 141)
David knew how dependent he was on the Lord God to be the doorkeeper
of his lips, heart and actions. He understood the temptation of his flesh to
speak evil. He knew the evil inclinations of his heart toward evil. He found
himself in the company of wicked men, desirous of eating the enticing
delicacies of sin. He pleaded with God to watch over his soul. If God was
not his gatekeeper, David knew he would fall. He depended entirely on the
work of God to guard what was coming in and out of the temple of his
body.
David also cried out to God to watch over his thoughts. He invited the
heavenly gatekeeper into his mind to search out any impurities and remove
them.
[23] Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know
my thoughts! [24] And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139)
What a comfort it is for the believer to know that the Lord God acts as a
gatekeeper over our soul, protecting, cleansing and keeping it so that we
can worship Him aright.
There is another aspect to the image of God as a gatekeeper that we need to
see. Speaking about the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28, the Lord said:
[16] In the abundance of your trade you were filled with
violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a
profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O
guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezekiel
28)
As a gatekeeper, the concern of God is for holiness and righteousness. This
means that He will judge anything that defiles His purpose and cast it out.
This is what Ezekiel tells us happened to the king of Tyre. He was removed
from the presence of God, “as a profane thing” and destroyed.
When the apostle John saw his vision of the temple in Revelation 21, he
made the following statement:
[22] And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord
God the Almighty and the Lamb. [23] And the city has no need
of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light,
and its lamp is the Lamb. [24] By its light will the nations walk,
and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, [25] and
its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night
there. [26] They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the
nations. [27] But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone
who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are
written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21)
The gates of the city of the New Jerusalem will be guarded and protected.
Nothing unclean, detestable or false will enter to defile. While there is no
reference to gatekeepers in this passage, it is evident that the gates would be
kept from anything sinful. Nothing evil will enter these gates for God acts
as the gatekeeper of the city.
There is one more detail I want to mention regarding the Lord God as a
gatekeeper. We read the following in John 10:
[10:1] “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the
sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is
a thief and a robber. [2] But he who enters by the door is the
shepherd of the sheep. [3] To him the gatekeeper opens. The
sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and
leads them out. (John 10)
Jesus uses a parable here to explain the way of salvation. In this parable,
Jesus used an illustration of a shepherd and his sheep. At night the
shepherds would bring their sheep to a pen where they could spend the
night. This pen was large enough that the fold of many shepherds could
spend the night. The shepherds of these various folds would then hire a
gatekeeper to remain by the gate at night to protect all the sheep. In the
morning, the shepherds would come to the fold. Because the gatekeeper
recognized them, he would open the gate for them. Each shepherd would
call out to his sheep. The sheep, understanding their shepherd's call, would
then make their way to him. The shepherd would then lead them out to
pasture where he would spend the day with them.
The gatekeeper would not open the gate to anyone other than the shepherds.
He would judge anyone who tried to enter any other way as a thief and
defend the sheep against this intruder. As a gatekeeper, the Lord God opens
the door to His son to call out to us. He gives us access to His Son by
opening the gate for us to follow Him. Only those sheep who respond to the
call of the shepherd can leave the fold for green pastures. The gatekeeper
then closes the gate to all who do not answer to the voice of the Shepherd.
This is a sobering thought. The gatekeeper restricted access to the temple.
The gates of heaven are not open to all. As a gatekeeper, God only allows
those who respond to the voice of His Son to enter the city. How important
it is then that we hear the call of the Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd.
What do we understand from this? The gatekeepers reflected, by their work,
something of the character of God and His purpose. They did this in two
ways.
First, they protected and guarded the temple of God. Similarly, the Lord
God watches over what He has entrusted to us. He preserves the work He
began in us. He purifies us of our sins and cleanses us so that we can bring
Him glory. Without His work as a gatekeeper, protecting and maintaining
we would surely be lost. We depend on Him to watch over and keep us.
Second, the gatekeeper was responsible for restricting access to the temple.
Nothing impure could enter. Nothing that would defile the holiness of the
temple was given access. As a gatekeeper, the Lord God also restricts
access to the Holy City of Jerusalem. Only those who respond to the call of
His Son will be permitted to enter. Only those who have been forgiven and
cleansed by the work of Christ have the privilege of eternal life in His
presence.
[7] The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be
his God and he will be my son. [8] But as for the cowardly, the
faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral,
sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the
lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
(Revelation 21)
For Consideration: