“13 The Valley Gate was repaired by Hanun and the residents of Zanoah. They rebuilt it and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place. They also repaired a thousand cubits[ of the wall as far as the Dung Gate.14 The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Rekab, ruler of the district of Beth Hakkerem. He rebuilt it and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place.” NIV
You will notice a number of references in this chapter to ‘’doors and bolts and bars’’ (verses 3, 13, 14 and 15). This was about security. The bars were fitted into sockets, thus making it difficult for anyone outside to open the gates. It was an important part, therefore, of the comprehensive repair job. Two particular gates are mentioned in today’s reading:
The ‘’Valley Gate’’ is where Nehemiah began his night time inspection of the walls (2:13). It’s suggested that this long section of wall mentioned in verse 13, (over 1,700 feet), may not have been as badly damaged as other parts.
The ‘’Dung Gate’’ was located at the southernmost point of the city, close to the pool of Siloam. It was the main exit to the Valley of Hinnom, Jerusalem’s rubbish dump. Jesus used it as a picture of Hell.
You have to serve God wherever he sets you down. Some of us would say, with the psalmist, that the boundary lines have fallen for us in ‘’pleasant places.’’ We recognise that we don’t deserve such a location for life and ministry, but it is where God, in the mystery of His will, has placed us.
However there are those called to build by ‘’the dung Gate.’’
C.T. Studd was an England cricketer who gave up his career to become a missionary in both India and Africa. He said: ‘Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell, I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.’
The larger truth actually is that whether we serve in a quiet leafy village or a teeming urban centre, we all build at ‘’the Dung Gate.’’ There is no escaping the sight and stench of sinful ‘rubbish’ in every setting, however lovely it may be. The effects of the fall are found everywhere. We live in a broken and messy world.