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In the valley of humility

Rev. Charles Oppong-Poku | November 4, 2023 | Nehemiah 3:13


Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall as far as the Refuse Gate. Nehemiah 3:13


Once we have learned that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd and the Saviour of the world (Sheep Gate), we are told his followers bear witness to him and become fishers of men (Fish Gate). Yet still we have much to learn of Christ, and the teachings of the Church, so we must also pass through the Old Gate, to learn what it means to be clothed with Christ in the ancient wisdom of the ways of God, that we find in Scripture and Church History. And now we come to the Valley Gate, which opens out into the lowest point of Jerusalem: The Hinnom Valley, where wicked and idolatrous practices of child sacrifice (2 Kings, Isaiah & Jeremiah) and burning of human and city waste took place. Jesus referred to this valley several times such as Mark 9:42-50 where “...their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched”. This is where the idea of the word Gehenna (from Hinnom) is often translated as “hell” – a place where the unrepentant wicked are punished. It is interesting to note that the first gate Nehemiah went through to examine the state of the walls and gates of Jerusalem, before starting the construction work, was this one (Nehemiah 2:13-15).

The Valley Gate reminds us of humility, and brokenness and reveals the sin in our life. The Christian testimony over the course of Church History reveals that men and women who follow Christ are taken deeper into the nature and character of God by trials and tribulations. Psalm 23 captures the idea of the Valley: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” So, we see the valley in a Christian’s life as both the experience of God’s seeming absence and the necessary facing up to our fears as we journey with Jesus Christ in this life. The Valley Gate reminds us of our frail humanity, our need for God and our dependence upon Him. The Valley strips us of our pretensions and pride and leads us through repentance and forgiveness into the deep things of God. It is the place God trains us so that even when certain things seem to be difficult and we don’t know what to do, we can be sure that God is training us to rely on, trust and follow Him to the end. In the Christian life, it is not possible to enter the Sheep Gate, nor to join the service of the Fish Gate, nor to be made new creatures in Christ Jesus, until we have been willing to enter the Valley Gate of Humility.


What valleys are you going through? Is it the valley of doubt where your faith begins to waver in light of problems? Or the valley of discouragement when you are tempted to give up? Don’t be afraid when you go through valleys because Jesus is with you. Whatever difficult and tough times you go through, it is part of the Lord’s training for your personal growth, Jesus is there to take care of you and to protect you, and He will bring you through the valley!


Thank you, dear Lord, that you are the Shepherd of my soul. You will make me lie down in green pastures, lead me beside quiet waters, refresh my soul and guide me along the right paths for your name’s sake. Please help me to understand that without you I can do nothing and so depend, trust and follow you through my valley experience. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


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