The Wonderful Story of Redemption Seen Through the Valley Gate
Shiloh Lord's Day Service
Date: February 6, 2022
Scripture: Nehemiah 3:13
Speaker: Pastor James Park
To better understand the Valley Gate from 11th book of the History of Redemption series, we must understand the historical background. The Israelites were deported to Babylon and became captives to them. God was punishing the Israelites for their transgressions of not keeping the Sabbath day, Sabbatical year, and worshipping idols. God showed the Israelites mercy by allowing them to return to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity. Early in his reign, King Cyrus of Persia issued a decree, which allowed the Israelites to travel back to Jerusalem and start construction on the temple. The Israelites returned to Jerusalem in three stages. The first return took place in 537 BC, the second in 458 BC, and the third in 444 BC. The main focus of the third return was the rebuilding of the city walls. During the reconstruction of the city walls, there was a lot of interference from the Samaritans and other gentiles. These tribes sent a formal request to the current king of Persia, Artaxerxes, to force the Israelites to halt construction of the city walls. The king agreed with the gentile nations and forced the Israelites to stop the construction (Ezra 4:7-23). They had to wait 14 years before building the city walls again. Finally, the Israelites were allowed to rebuild because of Nehemiah's desperate prayers and fasting dedicated to reconstructing the city walls. King Artaxerxes, who stopped the reconstruction of the city walls, now sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem to oversee the rebuilding directly (Neh 2:7-8). Events in our lives may prevent us from progressing in our faith. These are the times we need to pray to the point of tears, just like Nehemiah. If we pray in this way, God will hear us and answer our prayers. He will remove the obstruction that is preventing our faith from growing.
1. Nehemiah inspects the city walls
Nehemiah had arrived in Jerusalem in 444 BC on the 1st day of the 5th month and examined the city walls for three days. The critical point is that Nehemiah started his inspection of the walls of the Valley Gate (Neh 2:12-15). Then, he went around the city inspecting the other walls and returned to the Valley Gate.
2. Valley Gate: From tears to joy, thanksgiving, and victory
When Nehemiah was in Persia, he heard the news that the construction of the city walls was not taking place and was in tears. Now, he was in front of the Valley Gate, inspecting the walls and seeing for himself the damage done years ago.
(1) The Valley Gate symbolizes tears, despair, and discouragement (Ps 84:6). In our lives of faith, there are times when we are literally in tears because our church, home, or work life can become overbearing. By not giving up and having faith in God, He will turn our despair into joy and thanksgiving.
(2) The valley represents a place of despair and grief that God turns into comfort (Ps 23:4). The valley may symbolize a place of death, fear, and grief. However, when we have strong faith in God, He will comfort us and take away those feelings of grief.
(3) The valley in the Bible also represents a place of dry bones, which appeared in a vision that Prophet Ezekiel had (Ezek 37:1). As bones represent the people of Israel, the dry bones symbolized the dead faith of the Israelites. However, through the spirit of God, these bones became alive again.
(4) The valley represents a place of war turned into a place of victory. King Jehoshaphat and southern Judah were under attack by an alliance of gentile nations, and the people of Judah were in great fear that their country would be taken over (2 Chr 10:25-28). God gave words of encouragement through his prophet at the time. He told the leaders to send out the choir onto the frontlines of the battlefield and instructed the choir to give praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, which God accepted. Thus, they were victorious in battle because of their devotion to God. Every day, we are constantly going through struggles, and it may feel like we are fighting a war. However, we cannot have this kind of mindset, need to be at peace and believe that God will fight these struggles for us.
4. Dedication of the walls start at the Valley Gate
Ezra and Nehemiah led two great choirs around the city walls after its completion. These two choirs walked along the city walls in opposite directions, starting at the Valley Gate, and reunited at the temple entrance.
(1) Ezra led the praise march (Neh 12:35-36).
(2) Nehemiah led the other praise march (Neh 12:41-42). Not only were there great praises given, but there were also worship and sacrifice. Because of these actions, God poured great blessings upon all the people of Israel.
Jesus Christ took our grief, pain, sorrow and turned them into joy and laughter through His sacrifice on the cross. In the redemptive-historical perspective, the Valley Gate symbolizes Jesus taking away our grief, pain, and sorrow (Isa 61:1-4). The march on the city walls of Jerusalem foreshadows the 144,000 on Mt. Zion singing the new song of victory. Through today's message of the Valley Gate, God is telling us an incredible story of redemption. He will turn our tears of grief and sorrow into joy and laughter, and give us peace during times of great struggle in our lives.