When you study the Holy Scriptures, how do you do it? First, you research. You compare scripture to scripture. You consult a concordance, dictionary, and a Bible commentary. Then you reason from the biblical truths and identify spiritual principles. Finally, you relate these truths and spiritual principles to your own life and the world around you. Many people record their personal Bible studies. To help you develop a biblical worldview you will use the research, reason, relate, and record teaching method, popularly called the 4 Rs of the Principle Approach. To learn more about the Principle Approach for teaching and learning, visit the Foundation for American Christian Education.
Select and print the lesson below. There are 10 lessons, each one containing scriptures and words to define using the online Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary. The study questions are designed to help you develop a biblical worldview and the principles of godly leadership. The training is based on the book, The Kingdom Leadership Institute Manual: Raising Up Leaders a Time Like This Demands, by Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas.
Taking Back the Gates of the Land
The Kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem. For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her (Lamentations 4:12-13).
America is in trouble. Good has become evil, evil has become good. We are codifying sin into law. It is not hyperbole to state that all we treasure in America is in danger of disintegrating right before our very eyes. Meanwhile, our nation’s leaders seem more concerned about the acquisition of political power than the welfare of our beleaguered nation. America, it appears, is going the way of every other nation that shook its puny fists in the face of a Holy God. The pertinent question then becomes, how did we arrive at this crisis point in our nation’s history?
The opening passage in Lamentations has much to say concerning our current plight. For our purposes, we will concentrate on three distinct points. First, God granted to his people a precious Abrahamic promise that Christ ratified on the cross. God’s people are to possess the gates of their enemies.
Read Genesis 22:15-18 and 24:60.
The Apostle Paul helps connects the dots between this Old Testament promise and the New Testament fulfillment. Read Galatians 3:29.
Look up the definition for “gate” in the online Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary. Record only the scripture reference and figurative meaning below.
Secondly, gates in the Bible represented a three-fold revelation of governmental power. Gates referred to the seat of political authority, the seat of judicial authority, and the seat of commerce. Kings established political summits at the gates (1 Kings 22:10). Judicial matters where decided at the gates (Deuteronomy 16:18-19 and 17:5). Additionally, the gates represented the seat of commerce and the place of business (2 Kings 7:1).
Notice God required both political officers and judges to be set up at the “gates” of each city. Thus, those responsible before God to render justice and judgment took their place at the gates. As they performed their solemn duty, however, they were warned not to judge cases according to their own opinions, philosophies, or judgments of men. Why? Because they had the awesome responsibility of representing the Lord’s justice and judgment in the cases brought before them.
Read 2 Chronicles 19:6-7.
Keep in mind God also established the biblical criteria for civil rulers who would serve in the gates of their cities. Just like there are biblical requirements for church leadership (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus), there are also biblical requirements for those who would aspire to hold civil office.
Read Exodus 18:21.
Continue your word study. Look up the definition for “judgment.” Write out definitions 1 and 8 below.
Consult Strong’s Concordance online. Look up the Hebrew definition for “judge,” Strong’s number 08199. Record the most instructive meaning to you below.
Reason from your word study and the scriptures. Who promised to be with the judges as they executed judgment at the gate? Were judges to fear public opinion or the Supreme Lawgiver? What were the requirements for those who served in civil government? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Exodus 18:21 reveals that Israel was a Hebrew Republic; it consisted of a representative government similar to our own. Notice as well the caliber of men and the godly characteristics demanded by God for those who would dare to serve in the gates of civil government. They were to be “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.” We take these requirements lightly today.
Our Founding Fathers understood the biblical requirements for leadership and birthed the freest nation the world has ever known. John Jay (1745-1829), was the first Chief Justice to our Supreme Court. He served as President of the Continental Congress and was active in the ratification of the Constitution through his Federalist Papers. John Jay maintained, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
John Jay also warned:
Whether our religion permits Christians to vote for infidel rulers is a question which merits more consideration than it seems yet to have generally received either from the clergy or the laity. It appears to me that what the prophet said to Jehoshaphat about his attachment to Ahab ["Shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord?" 2 Chronicles 19:2] affords a salutary lesson.
Noah Webster, the Father of American Education wrote:
It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the Scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.
But if we had no divine instruction on the subject, our own interest would demand of us a strict observance of the principle of these injunctions. And it is to the neglect of this rule of conduct in our citizens, that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breeches of trust, peculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our country; which disgrace a republican government; and which will tend to reconcile men to monarchs in other countries and even our own.
In The History of the United States, Webster cautioned:
Let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God . . . If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted . . . If our government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.
Capturing the Gates
The last point I want to make is how gates are captured. Lamentations 4:13 pinpoints the root cause, “For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the jus in the midst of her.” It was the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests that paved the way for God’s foes to capture the gates of his people. In other words, a corrupt church and a tyrannical state walk hand-in-hand. Whenever bad theology is present in the church, be assured bad behavior will follow.
Some may question, if possessing the gates of our enemies is God’s promise to his people, than how do we account for the condition of our gates here in America? What has happened to the seats of justice and mercy that our Christian forbearers established for God’s glory? How have God’s enemies captured the gates of our land?
One reason our gates are broken is that we have no vision for possessing them. The promise to possess the gates of our enemies has not been taught to God’s people in the last several decades, so the faith to possess this blessing has been missing.
The second reason for the condition of our gates is that it is part of God’s judgment upon a disobedient people. In Jeremiah’s day, it was the iniquities of the priests and the sins of the prophets that paved the way for the wicked to capture the gates of Jerusalem. God warned in the “curse” section of Deuteronomy that part of his judgment upon those who disobey his commandments and refuse to hearken to his voice is that they would be distressed in the gates (Deuteronomy 28:52-57).
The fact our gates in America lie in ruins is part of God’s judgment upon us. We have not kept his commandments nor hearkened to his voice, as we should. We put God’s 10 Commandments in the closet of the state judicial building in Alabama, (remember the 10 Commandment stand off in Montgomery?) and taken homosexuality out. As a result of our disobedience, we have forfeited the blessings promised in Deuteronomy 28 and incurred God’s curses instead.
The church’s failure allowed for the capture of our gates.
As Christians we must confess that to a large degree our culture has influenced us; we have not influenced the culture. The comfort of modern Christianity has bribed us into silence. Thus, the church in America has ended up like the children of Ephraim who, being armed and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle (Psalm 78:9). Instead of running to the roar of the enemy, we have retreated.
Lamentations outlines the national sins that led to Israel’s calamity. Read Matthew Henry’s commentary on Lamentations 4:13-20.
Reason from your word studies and the scriptures. The people of ancient Israel shed the blood of their children to which idol? They also shed the blood of what kind of man? What was the particular sin the people were guilty of that brought the judgment of God? Who was ultimately responsible for the people’s national sins?
Relate what you have learned to your own life and the culture around you. How can you possess the gates of the enemy? Are you preparing to serve the Lord in civil government, the judicial branch, or in business? Are you “laying siege” to the sin centers in your community? Have you repented for individual sins? For national sins? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
While we struggle for the gates of the land, there is a blessed hope. Jesus declared, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Do you think it was a coincidence that Jesus chose the word “gates” in declaring the triumph of his church against the forces of darkness and the enemies of the cross? He knew the Old Testament revelation as it pertains to the New Covenant. He is the Word made flesh. Gates are stationary and defensive by design. Jesus called his church to be on the offensive to capture them for his glory and our benefit.
Like King David, the church must declare once again:
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah (Psalm 24:7–10).
Throughout America this has been our family’s battle cry. As we take the gospel of the kingdom to the different sin centers of America, we raise our voice and declare to the gates of our land, “Be lifted up, so the King of Glory may come back to our beleaguered nation, which has abandoned him.” The American church must move from the playground of modern American Christianity back to the cultural battleground of biblical Christianity. We must do this for the souls of men, the lives of children, and the future of our nation. We must take back the gates of our land, in King Jesus’ name!
For a fuller treatise of the subject, read The Kingdom Leadership Institute Manual: Raising Up Leaders a Time Like This Demands.
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