8.  The Horse Gate

(Nehemiah 3:28)

In the ancient world, horses were symbols of power and instruments of war.  In Deuteronomy 17:16, God warns that any future King of Israel must not acquire too many horses.  We may ask why, but the biblical reason given time and again is plain:  The more we trust in our own might and strength (i.e. too many horses, tanks, missiles, etc), the less we trust in the Lord:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The Horse Gate was the closest to the King’s stables, and this is the place out of which the fighting men go off to war.  Therefore, the spiritual meaning of this Gate is Spiritual Warfare.

Revelation 19:11 says that Christ, the Faithful and True, was sat upon a horse and in righteousness and judgement he makes war.  Jesus Christ fights our battles against the Principalities and Powers, hence Ephesians 6:12, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of present darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  

Spiritually, the Horse Gate speaks to the global superpowers of our day, that any nation in denial of  God and His sovereign providence in this world engage in a race to the bottom of what is known as the industrialised military complex.  In the ancient world, God would say, “You have too many horses, and now you will reap what you sow” (Galatians 6:7-8). Our present day symbols of power and instruments of war are evident today even beyond military excess of “nation rising against nation” (Matthew 24:7), but in toxic politics and cancel culture, Big Tech and bloated government, using spin and propaganda whilst despising debate and conversation.

In a shift from the spiritual warfare metaphors, I mention the horses in the context of Christian living and ministry.  The prophet Jeremiah made a complaint (one of many) to God about the state of the world and all the wickedness in it (Jeremiah 12:1-4). He made his case then waited for God to answer.  Then God answered and said, “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you run with the horses?”  

In other words, anyone can “race with men” since that is the natural order of things.  Yet the Christian is not called to the natural order of things, but to the supernatural order of God’s things.  Therefore, to unnaturally “run with the horses,” something Jeremiah was invited to do if he was to continue to be God’s prophet at that time, is the very essence of the Christian life.  

So as we ponder this, we remember Paul writing, “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:13-14).  So at the Horse Gate we engage in spiritual warfare, and learn to do the supernatural running with the horses, and we trust Jesus Christ, not as if, but because our very life depends on it.

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