The Eastern Gate of Jerusalem stands like a bloodied, yet tenacious soldier refusing to surrender his ground as he eagerly awaits reinforcements. Each day, as the sun rises over the Mount of Olives, the Eastern Gate greets those shimmering shafts of light with a settled assurance that this could be the day…Could be the day for what?
The Eastern Gate, or the Golden or Beautiful Gate as it is also known, was one of eleven entrance gates into the walled city of Jerusalem. This was the main gate that welcomed most of the pilgrims going up to the Jewish temple, who then entered the area known as Solomon’s Poarch in preparation for offering their sacrifices. This was the gate where Peter and John healed the lame man in Acts 3. Jesus would have often used this gate as well.
The original gate was destroyed in 70 AD as the Roman legions led by Titus sacked and destroyed both Jerusalem and its temple. It lay in ruins for almost 1500 years until Suleiman the Magnificent, the leader of the Muslim Ottoman Turks, captured Jerusalem and began the rebuilding of her walls. A wave of excitement and anticipation swept through the conquered Jews because of an ancient tradition that promised their Messiah’s return and that He would enter the temple through the Eastern Gate from the Mount of Olives. In their minds Suleiman was just a tool in hastening the Messiah’s return.
Suleiman soon heard about the rumors sweeping through his conquered
foes and put a stop to by walling up the Eastern Gate and creating a Muslim cemetery down the hillside in front of it, believing no holy man would set foot, much less walk across a cemetery to get to the gate. And for the last 500 years the Eastern Gate has waited.
God gave Ezekiel a prophetic word as He spoke of the new temple that would one day be rebuilt: And the Lord said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered it; therefore it shall be shut” (Ezek. 44:3). This prophecy was given a thousand years before Suleiman walled up the gate.
So, when did the Lord God of Israel enter it? On Palm Sunday, Jesus (God the Son) rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey’s colt (the traditional Jewish transportation for a king) as He was proclaimed the King—the Son of David—the Messiah by His disciples (Luke 19:28-48). Just a few days later Jesus would be rejected by the nation as a whole, condemned as a traitor and blasphemer, and then crucified.
Today, the Eastern Gate is still walled up. It awaits the return of the King. For any believer who understands the prophecy of the Second Coming a view of this Beautiful Gate makes the hair on your neck stand up and chill bumps erupt on your body. As you stare at this gate you are looking at the very place where Jesus will return in glory and power. Zechariah tells us that on that day the Jews will look on the One whom they pierced and they will mourn in repentance (12:10), as their King—Messiah Jesus—touches down on the Mount of Olives and prepares to enter His temple (14:3-4). This is awesome, but what gives me chills and goose-bumps is the understanding that we as believers will accompany the Lord at His return
according to Revelation 19:11-16. You may not ever visit Jerusalem as a tourist, but somewhere in your future you have an appointment—a destination Israel—and you will personally see the Eastern Gate as it opens to receive the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Those limestone blocks and hundreds of Muslim tombs will not stop the return of Jesus. He is coming! Mark it down and whatever you do prepare for it—He is coming!
Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory many come in! Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory (Psalm