“A wall great and high . . . and twelve gates … on the east, three gates; on the north, three gates; on the south, three gates; and on the west, three gates.” Revelation 21:12
The city of God seems to do two things in this passage; repel and invite. First, it has “a wall great and high” which seems to fence it from the outsider. Yet it also has twelve gates of entrance, as if it had no desire to keep any out. Is it an hard thing, or easy, to be a citizen of that city? To answer this question, we must look at both parts.
First, there is a wall from self will, self sacrifice, and self righteousness that separates the soul from this city. There is no entrance by works, no acceptance by deeds, no access by external religion. All closed to the works of man. But look at the diversity in the entrances represented by the gates. Twelve to be exact. The citizens of the City of God have all washed their robes in Christ; but they have not all washed at the same gate. Paul and Nathaniel could never have entered by the same way. Paul gave up his will with great struggle. He possessed a strong will, and the old life died hard by a blinding light. Yet Nathaniel yielded with little more than a sigh. He was born under the fig tree, and his heart was not lead by a storm. So will their gate-experience be the same? How can they be? They entered by different ways. Within the city they will tell of different experiences; Paul will praise the thorn, and Nathaniel will extol the fig tree.
Dear one, the City of our God has many gates for the twelve tribes of man. The Holy Temple of Christ has doors on every side. Some open to the rugged north, by the way of trouble. Some by the sunny south, led in quiet paths. Some have their entrance from the East, invited by the hope of morning. Some from the West, at life’s setting sun. Some have come in at Bethlehem’s gate; the meeting of heaven and earth. Some have entered at Calvary’s gate, drawn by the weight of sin. Some have found entrance at Olivet, others by Samaria; but they enter by the same Christ, caught by the open door for sin. Within this Holy City these diverse souls now unite. Outside the gates they quarreled, fought, and denied each others door. But within the several gates, each jewel is revealed and enlarged, until the single fragments make up the blended whole of the Crown of Christ.
Your Servant in Christ,