“Possess the Gates” by Katie Taylor
What would it mean if you were told that you possess the gates of your enemies? As I read the words God spoke to Abraham after he was tested on the mountain with Isaac, it’s as if a divine highlighter illuminated them; “your offspring will possess the gates of their enemies” (Genesis 22:17). And when they came again as a promise to Rebekah after she faithfully chose to leave her people to marry Isaac, “may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies” (Genesis 24:60), I was prompted to dig in. I pray that what God showed me will bless and strengthen you like it did me!
So, as a child of God, I possess the gates of my enemies?! What in the world does that mean? My first fleshy thought would be that I have some sort of control over the haters. Come on now, you might know that desire! But that’s not at all what this means. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
As I dug in, I learned that cities in those days were surrounded by a huge wall with just one gate. Gates did two things:
They kept enemies out, and they also kept you from advancing into new territory as an outsider.
Gates were a place of control. They were where commerce took place, elders gave counsel, political decisions were made and culture took shape. So, as followers of Jesus, we collectively possess the gates of our enemies – of the ideals and principles against Heaven’s Kingdom that influence our world. We are called to take His promise, and take back our culture.
It is encouraging to see this happening in the world around us, but this promise has also been very powerful to me on a personal level.
A few weeks ago, my kids had the stomach bug and it had been cold and rainy for several days. As I did the dishes in my sweatpants, I glanced at my Facebook newsfeed and saw a friend and her children on the beach in the sunshine. The beach would be nice. My day had not been extra great, but it was fine until then. As I started to spiral into a pit of self pity, the Holy Spirit gently and powerfully whispered those highlighted words, “you will possess the gates of your enemies.”
So, NO, self pity, entitlement, comparison, ungratefulness – you are not coming in. I possess the gates of my enemies, and I tell you all to leave. The land of a thankful and joyful heart is mine, and you will not come in here today and take over.
What is sneaking into your gate? What do you need to shut out today?
On another level, I have kingdom dreams I believe God has put in my heart. I am like a traveler who sees this promised land on the horizon, and yet there is a huge gate blocking me from entering in. That gate set up by the powers of darkness is fear. Fear so often keeps me from advancing into new territory.
What territory is fear keeping you from entering?
I thank God for every person in my life who is stepping through the gates of fear and showing the world that while those gates appear tightly closed in the natural, God’s promise is that He will give us the land. (Joshua 6:1-2)
The ultimate gate we come to is death. Last week, I had the heartbreaking moment of crying with a friend who lost a child. There are no words to describe the gut-wrenching pain of moments like that. As I shook my fists in anger and overwhelming sobs, I was comforted that Jesus stood at that same gate at the tomb of Lazarus and wept. My friend’s loss is not okay and I believe Jesus was crying with me.
And He cared so much about it that he went through that gate Himself on our behalf. He descended to hell so that we wouldn’t have to. The gate of death; it has no hold on us. It does not have the final say. The territory of God’s Kingdom and eternal life are ours thanks to the Good Shepherd who lovingly laid down his life for you and me and said, “I am the gate” (John 10:9).
I look at this world around us and the brokenness in it. It is hard to watch the enemy of souls appear to be gaining ground with people I love, and on some days, with me. It hurts. But there is something else beautiful that is happening. The King of Glory stands at the door of broken, sinful hearts and He…knocks. (Psalm 24, Revelation 3:20)
As we let Him in, He offers a path straight through gates of terrible things like cancer, addiction, abuse, abortion, perfectionism, broken relationships, shame, death you name it. And in this broken world, the lives and words of ordinary people delivered and redeemed by an extraordinary God have the power to push back the darkness and show people at the gates of despair that there is hope on the other side. The words of Jesus ring true:
“On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Join me today in being empowered by these words, in pushing intruders out and courageously stepping into the territory that has been won for us in Christ, for His glory. We can humbly and boldly claim this personal promise; “you possess the gates of your enemies.”