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Gates of Hell


“Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies” (Gen 24:60).

When we talk about the gates of hell, we immediately think about Matthew 16:18 where Jesus told Peter, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” But the promise was first given to Abraham in Canaan: “Your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies” (Gen 22:17).

Rebekah lived in tents among a nomadic community that had no gates. The defenceless tribe was to possess the enemy gates. My grammar teacher taught me that “will” has a note of ambiguity and indefiniteness whereas “shall” pronounces definiteness. There is constant fighting between us and the enemy gates but we “shall” possess the enemy gates. Let’s see some examples -

It was at the enemy’s gate that Mordecai sat. Though the odds were against him, finally he won. Mordecai’s defiance saw an exodus of many people of other nationalities into the Jewish community.

When Sennacherib, king of Assyria came to possess the gates of Jerusalem, Hezekiah gathered the people near the city gate and said, “There are more with us than him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and fight our battles” (2 Chron 32). Sennacherib was soundly defeated. What strength these words give us, who are fighting to possess the gates of our enemies but are at the point of losing our gate!

Iron gates opened up to release Peter who was put in prison (Acts 12:10). That’s all the strength of the enemy gates. When the Spirit of the Lord is on us we can even uproot the gates of our enemy and carry them on our shoulders and walk up the mountain like the anointed Samson.

“Gates” of hell. So hell is a big place. But heavenly Jerusalem is also a big place with twelve gates. We shall plunder hell and populate heaven. We have the promise of Jesus that He will build His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Give thanks! “For He has broken the gates of bronze, and cut the bars of iron in two” (Psa 107:15,16). Hallelujah!

Are we paralyzed with fear? The promise given to Rebekah still holds good. She said, “I will” and went ahead boldly to possess the land and became thousands upon thousands. The promise held good for Abraham and his descendants; for Rebekah  and her offspring; for Jesus and His disciples. Why not for us?

“The gates of hell will not prevail against the church” is a metaphor of offense, not defense. Let’s go ahead and possess so that Christ can build His church.


   Address for Correspondence & Contributions:

Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
Tel: +91 9843511943
Email: lilianstanley@gmail.com