Justice at the Gates

Justice at the Gates Herschel

Deut 16:18-20

18 "You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall

judge the people with just judgment.

19 "You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the

words of the righteous.

There are three gates mentioned directly or indirectly in scripture that I want to address.

  1. The gates of the city

  2. The gates of the body, and

  3. The gate of heaven

There is however, a fourth gate called the gate of hades referred to in Matt 16:18. Upon Shimon’s confession of Yeshua as “Messiah, the Son of the living God", Yeshua said that “the gates of Hades will not overcome it”. Yeshua promised that our confession of Him is greater than the gates of hades and in my view, that is sufficient attention to that particular gate. Suffice it to say that some theologians suggest that the reference to the “gates of Hades” seems to be a metaphor, which can also refer to the powers of death i.e. the grave. According to Paul, since Messiah’s resurrection from the grave, death no longer has power over believers. Neither does the ‘gates of hades’ exert influence over believers if we walk by faith and not by sight.

  • Gates of the City

Isa 28:5-6 - He will give a longing for justice to their judges. He will give great courage to their warriors who stand at the gates.

There is I believe a three-fold responsibility to those who kept watch at the gates:

1. the judges, magistrates or appointed judicial officials were tasked

with ensuring that fair and equitable justice was maintained within

the community.

Numbers 35:29 – “these are to be statutes of justice for your generations in all your dwelling places.

Psalm 11:7 - :for Adonai is righteous; He loves justice’

Isaiah 5:16 – “But Adonai-Tzva'ot will be exalted through justice, and the Holy God consecrated through righteousness.

In Matthew 23:23, we are informed that the weightier matters of Torah include justice mercy and faithfulness! In this sense therefore, the judges who sat at the gates of the city are called warriors, because they fought for justice and conversely, they fought against injustice. The Kiel and Delitsch commentary on this verse says:

The judges are called "those who sit' - al-hammishpât" - in the sense of "on the seat of judgment" (Ps 9:5; 122:5).

In my view, and I offer my opinion here, the pursuit of justice is also the pursuit against injustice and therefore, this can be likened to spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare is more than just speaking loudly against the works of the adversary. I believe that living godly lives and pursuing justice is an act of powerful and effective spiritual warfare.

2. Then secondly, we see that warriors also sat at the gates of the city

The warriors are "those who press back milchâmâh shâ'râh" (war at the gate), when the enemy has reached the gates of the village. So it will come to pass that your choicest valleys will be full of chariots and horsemen posted at the gate.’ (Isa 22:7)

Nehemiah 1:3 - "The remnant who have survived the captivity there in the province are in great distress and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire."

The first thing the enemy does when it laid siege to a village or town was to set fire to the gates which left the inhabitants vulnerable to being overwhelmed by the attacking enemy army.

3. the third point is that the prophets also stood by the gates of the city

proclaiming God’s message to that community

Jeremiah 17:19-23

Thus said Adonai to me (Jeremiah): "Go, stand in the gate of the children of the people, through which the kings of Judah come in and go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem, and say to them: ‘Hear the word of Adonai, kings of Judah, and all Judah and all inhabitants of Jerusalem who enter through these gates!

The gates of the ancient cities were massive structures made of stone, iron, brass, or wood frequently sheeted with metal. They were tall and wide. “The Beautiful Gate” of Herod’s temple (Acts 3:2) was made of brass and so massive, that it required twenty men to open or close it. These gates were opened during the day to allow the citizens to come and go, but were generally closed and barred at night as a safety measure to keep out enemy attacks. Whoever controlled the gates of the stronghold, ruled the city.

So, we have judges, warriors and prophets fulfilling their duties at the gates of the city!

  • Gates of the Human Body

The Sifrei Kohen takes this analogy further by applying this concept to the human body.

The human body is a city with seven gates—seven portals to the outside world: the two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and the mouth. (I appreciate that he did not mention the other portal) Here, too, it is incumbent upon us to place internal “judges” to discriminate and regulate what should be admitted and what should be kept out, and “officers” to enforce the judges’ decisions . . .

The human body is called a temple for the Holy Spirit and using the analogy of the gates of a city, we have gates of the spirit, soul, and body that we are to guard against unwelcome negative or destructive forces.

2 Cor 10:3 - 6

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds. We are tearing down false arguments and every high-minded thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah— ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

Now, the Greek word for ‘weapon’ means ‘armour’ and we can immediately connect this thought to Ephesians 6 where Sha’ul cautions us to put on the full armour of God.