Special Feast experience: ‘Opening’ the Eastern Gate


By Stan Goodenough
Courtesy of Jerusalem Watchman

Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut. And the LORD said to me, "This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut." (Ezekiel 44:1-2)

And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east.

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By Stan Goodenough
Courtesy of Jerusalem Watchman

Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut. And the LORD said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.” (Ezekiel 44:1-2)

And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. …  And the glory of the LORD came into the temple by way of the gate which faces toward the east. The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. (Ezekiel 43:2, 4-5)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 dawned like a fairly ordinary day here in Jerusalem. But for at least 40 of the thousands of Christians in the city of the great King, here to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles before Him, an unprecedented experience lay just ahead.

The 40 were part of a group of about 100 who had ascended to the Temple Mount to “put their feet” on what the Bible calls the holiest site in the world. They came to pray for its cleansing and its restoration to Israel, that the Third Temple could be built to welcome the Messiah.

Situated on the sides of the north of the ancient City of David, on the eastern flank of today’s Old City, it is the mountain Abraham climbed in order to sacrifice his son Isaac. It was the location of Israel’s First Temple, which was filled with the Shekinah glory of God (1 Kings 8:11). And on it stood Israel’s Second Temple, the one Jesus called “My Father?s house” (John 2:16).

The Bible identifies the mountain as Moriah (Genesis 22;2; 2 Chronicles 3:1). God calls it: “My holy hill” (Psalm 2:6). Undeterred by the raging of the nations and the declarations of Islam, He emphatically states His intention to install His King upon it (Psalm 2:6). The future Temple that will stand there will be the place of His throne; there He will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever. (Ezekiel 43:7).

The Islamic Trust (Waqf)forbids Jews and Christians from praying on the Temple Mount. Israel’s governments uphold that ban and cooperate with the Muslims in enforcing it. This writer has been ejected from that site for simply praying quietly in a secluded place up there.

On previous visits the police at the security checkpoint have been brusque, suspicious, unfriendly. They have searched visitors’ bags for weapons, and for Bibles (perhaps they know it is called the Sword of the Spirit), preventing believers from taking the Scriptures up with them. The atmosphere on top of the Mount is usually tense and unwelcoming. Waqf officials are arrogant, watching visitors like hawks for any sign of “unlawful” prayer.

This time, every thing was different. Smiling policemen welcomed the group, ushering them through with barely a cursory glance at their bags. No-one was asked whether they had a Bible. We made our way up the ramp and in through the so-called Mughrabi Gate.

It was hard to believe that just the day before, Israeli news sources reported, a multitude greater in size than any seen since the Jews’ first return to their Western Wall after the 1967 Six Day War, spilled out of the plaza in front of the Temple Mount and flowed up into the streets of the Old City, as tens of thousands of Jews had come up to the city to receive the traditional blessing from the Cohens – descendants of the biblical priests.

It was also hard to believe that we were in the middle of the Islamic holiday of Ramadan, and that more than 100,000 Muslims had been gathering on the mountain in the days preceding this visit.

Inside the enclosure all was sunny, tranquil, still. Small groups of God-fearing Jews followed us in, kippot on their heads, tsitsit and side-curls waving gently in the breeze. In reverence for the divine sanctity of the Mount, some went bare foot. Israeli policemen in ones and twos were assigned to tail them, steadily, if at a distance, determined to ensure that these – their fellow Jews – refrained from praying anywhere on the mount. High overhead a police chopper beat at the early morning air.

But we were ignored as we spread out, walking to the four corners of the area, past the lead-grey Al-Aqsa Mosque and around the gold-covered Dome of the Rock.

Making my way to the eastern edge of the Mount, I walked towards the gate known to Jews as the Sha’ar Harachamim (Gate of Mercy), and which Christians call the Golden Gate or the Gate Beautiful.

It stood silently sealed, as it has since the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman bricked it up in 1541.

Many Jews and Christians believe the gate will be opened to let Messiah enter Jerusalem when He comes.

Ezekiel says He will come through the Eastern gate, not of the Temple Mount enclosure, but of the Third Temple, which the prophet so painstakingly describes, but which has never existed before.

As usual, Israeli policemen were stationed on top of that gate. The vantage point afforded them a spectacular view of the Temple Mount platform on the one side, and the deep drop into the Kidron Valley, the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives on the other.

I had wanted on a number of previous occasions to climb up there, but the policemen had always prevented me. This time I did not even think to try.

But wait! Suddenly the police were gone. The iron gate blocking the steps mounting the structure stood open, swinging slowly on its hinges. A few members of the Christian group were already making their way up. No officials barred their way. No shouts stopped them.

Forty of us quickly assembled in that normally inaccessible place. Suddenly, wondrously, the joy of the Lord flooded our hearts, and we sensed the presence of His Holy Spirit.

For 15 glorious, uninterrupted minutes we sang and prayed, all laughing, some weeping, worshiping God and proclaiming His prophetic Word, our hands and faces raised towards heaven, right on top of the Temple Mount, and praying towards the time when the Temple will be built again!

Walking purposefully in a line from the eastern side of the roof to its western side, a number of women decreed the opening of the Gate for the soon-coming Lion of Judah. Opening a vial of perfumed oil, they poured it out upon the Gate, symbolically anointing it for His return.

The songs and prayers continued for a little while. Then the moment ended as Muslim guards appeared from the nearby olive groves, shouting and commanding us to come down.

We left the Gate and, a few minutes later, quietly descended from the Temple Mount. We were awed by what had happened, and rejoiced that we had been given the opportunity to, in this special and amazing way, prepare the way of the Lord.

As the nations continue to gather around Jerusalem, their hostility and their determination to take half the land and half of the city away from the Jews and give them to the Arabs, we pray into God’s prophetic promises. We remind God of “the word that Isaiah the son of Amos saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:”

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:1-4)

And we declare and look forward to the day when:

The moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed; for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously. (Isaiah 24:23)

© Jerusalem Watchman

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