“Open for me the gates where the righteous enter,
and I will go in and thank the Lord.
These gates lead to the presence of the Lord,
and the godly enter there.”
Psalms 118:19-20 NLT
Gates. What picture comes into our minds when we think about gates? There’s the wooden gate at the entrance to someone’s garden. Or the motorised gate that can be triggered remotely to allow a vehicle through. Wrought iron fancy gates are sometimes fashionable. Or perhaps a substantial oak door complete with cast iron studs. The picket gate in the gatehouse, perhaps, at the entrance to a churchyard. But whatever pictures we form in our minds, the Psalmist highlights three things about the gate that is set before him. Firstly, he has to ask someone else to open it – its not something that he can do. Secondly, he has to be righteous to go through it, and thirdly, once through the opened gate, he can join the godly to enter God’s presence. And the reason he wanted to go through it was to thank the Lord. What a gate that must have been!
But many years later, Jesus made an astonishing statement. He said, as recorded by the Apostle John in John 10:9, “Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.” But is Jesus the Gate described in Psalm 118? Is this a prophetic glimpse of the coming Messiah? Well, Jesus is the Gate, the Someone who opens the gate for us. I once was shown around the cash handling hall in a major British bank. To get in was difficult. It needed someone to vouch for me, and sign me into the compound in which the cash hall was located. And this analogy aptly describes what Jesus does for us. He vouches for us, and because we have been saved through His blood shed for us at Calvary, we can securely and confidently enter His gate. You see, to enter the Gate that is Jesus we meet the qualifications required to get in. And the essential qualification is righteousness. Only the righteous can enter into God’s presence. Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthian church, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God“. Because Jesus took on Himself all our sins, past present and future, we can receive the gift of God and stand righteously before Him. Lastly, when we pass through the Gate we enter into God’s presence. In Hebrews 10:19 we read, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.”
The Psalmist asked for the gates to be opened. Tick. The Psalmist said the righteous can enter. Tick. We can go into God’s presence. Tick. So what the psalmist said in Psalm 118 was confirmed many years later by the first coming of Jesus. However, there is just one more thing we must do once we are in the presence of the Lord. That is, we must thank Him, and never stop thanking Him. Joining with many saints around the world and in past, present and future times. Thanking God for all He has done for us. Must be worth an amen?