The excitement was almost palpable. We were in Jerusalem! I had dreamed of this day for most of my life. I was going to see with my own eyes the old city and think about how the Lord had been in this place. We hurried along the walkways and came up to the huge Jaffa gate. Let me introduce you to the one city that is truly “holy.” 🙂
Jerusalem is not only one of the oldest cities in the world, but has a huge prophetic part to play in the future. Walking those old streets made the scriptures come alive to me.
Old city Jerusalem has eight main gates strategically placed in its walls. History oozes from these old walls; if we could only hear them speak!
The Walls of My Mind
I was especially interested in learning that the eight gates remarkably illustrate the eight things that Paul tells us to think about in Philippians 4:8.
What if we pictured our minds as old Jerusalem? Only thoughts that fit the Philippians 4:8 qualifications were allowed to enter and roam the streets. Let me describe the eight gates to you and connect them with the eight things we should meditate on. This is so cool! 🙂 First, let’s look at the verse:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8
1. Jaffa Gate – What is True
When coming up from Tel Aviv, the Jaffa gate is the gate you see first. It is shaped like a “L” with a door on either side. Here is an interesting true tidbit about the Jaffa Gate. In 1917, British general Edmund Allenby entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate, but got off his horse and went in by foot to show respect, desiring to avoid comparison with Kaiser Wilhelm II’s haughty entry in 1898.
Let’s connect the Jaffa Gate with the True Gate.
Ask yourself. Is this thought true? Am I thinking about something that is a lie? Is my meditation in accord with what is true? Only thoughts that are true are allowed to enter my ‘Jaffa Gate.’
2. Zion Gate – What is Honorable
The first mention of Zion in the Bible is in 2 Samuel 5:7 when King David captured the fortress of Zion.
Here, David and I are standing in the Zion Gate, which has bullet marks clearly visible from the 1948 war. Victories in battle give a soldier honors, so connecting Zion Gate with honor is perfect.
The Evil One loves to fill our thoughts with shameful things that we think no one else will know about. Is this thought honorable? Opposites of honorable are shameful and ignoble.
Do my thoughts fit through the Honorable Gate?
3. Dung Gate – What is Just
The Dung Gate is the place where the refuse of the old city was carried out to the Hinnom valley (Gehenna) where the fires never died. It is located close to the Temple Mount.
The Dung Gate and the Just Gate could easily be connected by the fact that our just reward for our sin is death. All our righteousness is as dung, filthiness (Is. 64:6). We justly deserve punishment, but God instead has given us His righteousness.
Do my thoughts reflect things that are just? Just is defined as based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair. That qualification would be a good checkpoint for my thoughts.
4. Golden Gate – What is Pure
What a neat picture for the Golden Gate to be linked to the Pure Gate. That gate will be opened when the Pure and Holy One comes. The Messiah has already entered the predecessor of this gate once before riding on a donkey a few days before He died to pay for my sin. Soon He will return to claim His rightful kingdom.
In myself, I cannot attain pure thoughts because of the sinful person that I am, but as I allow my Savior to control my thoughts and renew my mind to be like His, pure thoughts will dominate.
Four Gates Down, Four To Go!
5. Lion’s Gate – What is Lovely
The Lion’s Gate and the Lovely Gate both start with ‘L.’ If one looks carefully on the wall on both sides of the top of the gate, you can see lions. This is close to the location where Stephen was martyred.
Sometimes lovely thoughts are difficult thoughts. Stephen died for Christ because of his great love for Him. He gave the greatest gift he could for His Savior ~ his life. And when he died, Stephen saw Jesus, who had been seated at the right hand of the Father, stand.
Are my thoughts lovely?
6. Herod’s Gate – What is Commendable
Herod was the greatest known builder in the Middle East in ancient times. He built Masada as a palace, the city of Caesarea on the coast, the Herodium palace, and he rebuilt the second temple and the mount on which it sat. The stones at the wailing wall today were laid by Herod. Though he was a wicked man, his building achievements were commendable.
This Commendable Gate would check whether my thoughts were constructive, innovative, and worthy of approval. Would it bother me if someone could see my thoughts projected up on a screen? Would they be approved by an inspecting king?
7. Damascus Gate – What is Excellent
This gate was the busiest gate around Jerusalem and brought you to the main road heading to all points north in Israel and to Syria. This would have been the gate a rabbi named Saul left on his way to arrest Christians in Damascus. This road was likely the one next to which Jesus was crucified.
There is nothing in Scripture about a hill called Golgotha or a mount called Calvary. “The place of the skull” was next to a road; it still is today. Romans crucified criminals beside the main road to teach a lesson to passersby of what happens when you disobey Roman Law.
Jesus was the Excellent One. The Perfect One. Because He died as a perfect human, the curse from Adam could be reversed. We can partake in the results of His death on the cross. He saves us.
Are my thoughts clear, creative, and consistent with the gospel? Do I live and think in light of that Good News? Are my thoughts excellent?
8. New Gate – What is Praiseworthy
This is the most recent of the gates. It was opened in 1889 to allow easier access for worshippers in the Christian quarter.
The New Gate is connected to the Praiseworthy Gate. We must find new ways to continually praise the Lord because He is the Praiseworthy One. If, in our thinking, we are looking for things to praise the Worthy One, other thoughts that do not line up those sentiments will feel out of place.
So there you are. These are the 8 gates that need to guard our minds.
- True Gate ~ Jaffa
- Honorable Gate ~ Zion
- Just Gate ~ Dung
- Pure Gate ~ Golden
- Lovely Gate ~ Lion’s
- Commendable Gate ~ Herod’s
- Excellent Gate ~ Damascus
- Praiseworthy Gate ~ New
If your thoughts fit into these eight gates, you will have no trouble thinking thanks.