Nehemiah 3:1-13

The Pilgrim’s Progress


At first glance Nehemiah Chapter 3 looks like one of those Chapters in the Bible that you would be tempted to skip over – TEDIOUS 

A) A long list of names telling where the families worked as they build the wall – Each family positioned by a different gate .


B) But if you have been a student of the Bible for any length of time you know that God never does anything by accident

1) Often times what seems like a mundane list – or incidental information – contains a message behind the message


C) That is the case here in Nehemiah ch. 3 – For that reason we will spend 2 or 3  Sunday’s looking at this passage

1) For there are two messages that are revealed for us in this text


The first we will call the message of the gates – The Pilgrim’s Progress

A) Jerusalem was a city that was surrounded by a wall – the wall was for Protection – People live in security / worship without worry


B) That is why it is so important to Nehemiah and the Lord that this wall get built – God wants His people SECURE

1) Around the wall – were these 10 gates – points of entry – each for a different reason – each symbolizing a different thing { Picture


C) What these gates reveal to us is – The Progress of the Believers walk

That takes us from Salvation to the Great white throne Judgment

1) And every where in between – The Victories and the Valleys / High points and Low points are all represented in the message of the gates


Your life is a Story : Being written as we speak – Day by day situation by situation all are adding to the Story of your life in the Lord

A) Where does it begin – THE SHEEP GATE v. 1



John 10:7,9 Then Jesus said to them "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…… If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.


When the shepherds were herding their sheep in Bible days they didn’t have Carols like we have today where the sheep would stay

A) So usually what they would do when they were going to stop for the night they would find an enclosure – { Cave / Canyon entrance


B) They would find the Narrowest spot and then – once the sheep were settled the Shepherd would lay across the opening

1) So the only way that someone was going to get into the Sheep fold was to go thru the Shepherd – No Sheep could get out – no stranger could get in


C) Now the Bible declares that we are  - Ps 95:7  For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.


D) No one can get into the Sheep fold of God – without first having to go thru Jesus the Shepherd


Now what is interesting about the sheep gate is that is the gate that the Children of Israel would come in thru when going to the temple to Sacrifice

A) And when they came to the temple they would bring with them a Lamb to offer to the Lord – Sacrifice for sins


B) Before that lamb was to be slain – the Priest would first inspect it to make sure that the lamb had no blemishes

1) The person bring the offering was not inspected – but the lamb was


C) Then the Priest would have the person who was offering the sacrifice place their hands on the head of the lamb

1) This was an act of IDENTIFICATION  - It symbolized that the person realized that the Lamb was paying the price for his sin { TRANSFERRED


Well the same thing is true in our Salvation – We enter into the Sheepfold of God thru Jesus Christ

A) He was not just the Shepherd but he became the Lamb of God – who came to take away the sins of the world


B) When we come to God – we are not inspected – because we would be full of flaws and blemishes –

1) We are not inspected because Jesus was – He was found to be the lamb who was without spot – without blemish { Perfect sacrifice


C) We identify with the fact that all of our sin was placed on Him – He paid the price for us –

1) All of his Righteousness was transferred to us – I am in the Lamb


D)  He is worthy to be Praised – I am ACCEPTED into the Sheepfold of God – not based on my performance but based on His

1) His Performance was Perfect –


E) So that is always the Starting place – Sheep gate = SALVATION


After the Sheep gate comes the Fish gate  v.3 Also the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars.

A) See when I realize how great God is He is worthy – I am accepted into the Sheepfold of God because I am IN THE LAMB


B) This is such great news I have to tell somebody – I have to let people know – there is Salvation – available – forgiveness – freedom



C) Jesus was walking by the beach one afternoon – saw a set of brothers who were fishing Matt 4:19– follow me I will make you fishers of men

1) The Bible tells us that they immediately left their nets and followed him


New Priority – Before everyday they would wake up wondering – where is the best place to go fishing – Best way to catch fish

A) But now they were fishing in a new sea – The sea of Humanity – they were fishing for the souls of men


B) There is nothing more exciting in the life of the believer than sharing our faith with someone – especially when that person accepts the Lord

1) To think that God used us to affect another person’s eternal destiny is absolutely incredible – Mind blowing !!!


C) Now I have observed an interesting thing about Christians & Evangelism:

1) Most Christians have a tendency to share their faith MORE when they are first saved than they do once they have been saved a while.


Now there is a reason for that – You see first saved – we had a lot of friends who were not Christians – suddenly our life changed

A) Those of you who are new in the Lord – you have a tremendous opportunity – Your unsaved friends are watching you


B) Wondering – what happened to him/ her – They are curious why you suddenly are so interested in going to Church – Bible study

1) You are in a great season for IMPACT – but one of two things is going to happen – Your friends will either get saved or abandon you


C) They are either going to turn to Jesus from what they see from you or they are going to turn from you – not want to be their friend anymore


John 3:19-21

19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."



So that is what happens / Turn to Jesus or Turn away from you.

A) Now the reason that most of us shared our faith more when we were first saved than we do now is – back then we had more opportunity


B) But now that we have been in the Lord – 10 yrs – all our unsaved friends either got saved or said see ya

1) Now most of our friends are believers – We gravitate toward those circles at work/ in the neighborhood – at Little league games


C) That is why I want to say to those of us who have been in the Lord a while we are to still be fishers of men

1) It might take a little more effort – but we need to look for those opportunities


D) In Matt 5:13,14 – We are the salt of the earth & we are the light of the world – Light speaks of our witness – How we live – Example / Light seen!

1) In order for salt to be affective – it has to be applied – We need to permeate the world around us – Make friends with unbelievers


E) Lend a helping hand to a neighbor – Bring a meal to a friend who is sick

1) Be aware of a fellow worker who is down – Show the love of Christ by reaching out to the hurting –


F) And when the opportunity presents itself – Share the Gospel

1) Remember: Paul declared in Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes,


G) There is power in the gospel – We are the messengers – but the Power is in the message: So the  Sheep gate = SALVATION/ Fish gate = service S/L


Well that brings us to the next gate – v.6 tells us about those who worked at the OLD GATE  

A) Now this was the oldest of the gates – the most established of the gates it was always open – not everyone used it – always there

B) What does the old gate represent: The TIMELESSNESS of the Word of God !

1) When you start sharing your faith – invariably you will come across people who will ask you questions you don’t know the answer to


C) You discover the need to search the scriptures – to discover what you believe and why –  1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you,


D) The old gate speaks of our need to be grounded in the word of God !!!


This is why what we were doing this past week in Africa was so important – Kenya is filled with many Churches

A) What I would call Salvation centers – They are good at Preaching the gospel { FIRE } – problem is that is all that they do


B) Every week is a salvation message – People getting saved 50 times over but never growing in the Lord

1) Their like a babies that are born – but they remain spiritual infants the rest of their lives – because of a LACK OF NOURISHMENT


C) Or they become sickly – because they are eating the wrong food

1) Because they are not grounded in the truth – they are lacking in strength


D) Our goal was to teach the Pastors how to teach thru the Word – how you can do that and still have the FIRE – THAT PASSION FOR God

1) Exciting to see them catch it { Pray for these guys


E) Solomon’s testimony – Our Pastor has lost the fire !!!- Now they get it


We have Salvation centers here in the states as well – Churches that are really Strong in Evangelism – always people getting saved

A) Often times what happens in that person who has been born again for a few yrs – starts to get hungry { wander into a Church like ours

B) I often hear this type of testimony – I have learned more here at CCV in 4 months than I did at my old Church in 4 yrs

1) God used that ministry to get them saved – but He is going to use another one to help them – grow


C) Having a good balance of both – is best !!


So the old gate speaks of the Timeless truth’s of the word of God and the need for every believer to get grounded in God’s word

Matt 24:34-35 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.


1 Peter 1:24-25 "All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away,

25 But the word of the LORD endures forever."


Listen Heaven and earth are going to pass away – God’s word remains

A) Society might change like the changing of the seasons – like the flower fades - 25 But the word of the LORD endures forever."


B) See in the same way that 2+2 always = 4{ Fact – this is a Fact – Now matter how culture Changes / world changes



C) Important to realize because – Culture is always Changing –

1) Africa it is culturally & governmentally acceptable for a man to have more than one wife – Openly Practiced


D) But what does God’s word say ! That is what matters – that is the authority !!!




In our Culture – Homosexuality is becoming more and more accepted as the norm – Even those who say – Homosexuals can still be Christians

A) What does God’s word say ? 1 Cor 6:9 makes it very clear that those practicing Homosexuality & Sodomy will not inherit the Kingdom of God


B) Now it also says that those who practice Sexual immorality / Sex outside of Marriage / Idolatry – Something above God in life / Adulterers

1) Thieves / Drunkards or Practicing Alcoholics ………….EITHER


C) So I am not picking on Homosexuals – I simply use that example because there are those in our Culture who are aggressive in saying – OK

1) In Fact legislation is on the books right now – that would make it against the law for me to make such a statement


D) Even though the statement is not my opinion – It is from the Bible

1) God’s word remains the same – it is endures forever


The Old gate speaks of the need in our lives for our lives to be built upon the Foundation of God’s word

Matt 7:24-27

"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.


26 "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

Sheep gate = SALVATION

          Fish Gate = Service – being salt & light

            Old Gate – the soundness that comes into our lives when we are

             students of God’s word


After the Old gate comes the Valley gate – v.13

A) The valley gate was one of the lowest spots in the city –


B) Valley’s are such a part of our Christian experience

1) After TEACHING COMES TESTING – Valley = trials


C) We all go thru trials – Deep dark Valleys Times of testing / times of temptations / times of difficulties

1) Times where you wonder – what is going on – but those times of trial are necessary


James 1:2-5 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.



1 Peter 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.



6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,9 receiving the end of your faith -- the salvation of your souls.




Trials reveal if our faith is genuine – if it is real

A) What happens to Plastic in Fire? – It burns up – it dissolves


B) You can take a piece of Plastic and shape it like a gold brick / paint it gold – and put it into the Fire – guess what – going to burn up

1) Reveal that it is not gold at all


C) That is what happens to Plastic faith – in the fire – not real


True faith – like gold when put into the fire it melts – It becomes liquefied so that the goldsmith can mold & shape it

A) Valley times do – the trials soften us so that the Lord can perfect us

Mold us and shape us { He is there PSA 23 / Shadrach ……….


B) The Valley times are meant to Prepare us for the future

1) This part of your life is the Prologue – Eternity will be the real story


C) Earth is restored – We will reign


2 Cor 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.


There is another thing happens to the gold when it goes into the fire – the first thing that happens is the impurities rise to the surface

A)That is what happens when we go thru the Valley’s { Our -  Impurities come out – { BIG GULP} bumps


B) Although we don’t deny or abandon our faith – sometimes we don’t pass the Test -  

1) What is revealed is our Impurities – we say things that we shouldn’t

We react in ways that are not proper

C) Our sin becomes also apparent – the areas where we still need to grow are revealed


Sheep gate = SALVATION

          Fish Gate = Service – being salt & light

            Old Gate – the soundness that comes into our lives when we are

             Grounded in  God’s word

                   The Valley Gate = Suffering & trials


Which brings us to the next gate – last one today: V.14 Refuse Gate

A) Even lower than the Valley gate was the Refuse or Dung gate


B) Lowest point in the city – See in those days they didn’t have a sewer system like we have today { Raw waste & trash would run out this gate


C) It would be taken out of the Refuse gate and deposited in the Valley of Gehena outside the city walls -  It was smelly – dirty place


D) Imagine being the guys who got assigned to work on this gate

1) Every day must have been a Challenge just dealing with the smell


E) I wonder if they were the first ones to finish their gate – just to get away from that place ?


Sometimes in the Valley – the refuse / the Dung comes out of our lives

Causing one of two reactions –

A) You can immediately deal with the Dung – Lord help – forgive cleanse –

         Or You just get used to it !! Learn to live with it !


B)  In Kenya there in Africa there was a Refuse spot – place where the waste from the houses & apartments ran down into pond



D) Everyday on our way to the Church – we would drive over this bridge over this area – Smell was Putrid { Sickening

This is what amazed me – there were people who lived by that place

A) There were people who worked by that place – people who daily walked right by


B) In fact there was an outdoor entertainment place – Club , right above that place – Friday nights packed

1) How could this be – OBVIOUS – They had grown immune to the smell – immune to the waste – Used to it


C) It had to be unhealthy for them to be breathing those fumes

1) Many in that area are very sick – Disease is rampant


Listen friends we need to watch that – when the refuse is revealed in our lives – that we don’t get used to it – don’t get immune

A) We need to deal with it quickly – affectively – Repent


B) We need to be careful as the world around us becomes more and more of a REFUSE PILE – more and more corrupt – ungodly


C) That we don’t grow used to the smell - - that we don’t get used to the stink – If we do – we are going to be Unhealthy

1) Sick and weak Church


D) May the Lord burn within our hearts a Conviction for righteousness