This week I had the opportunity to watch some video lessons from the Holy Land. The teacher on the video was leading a group of tourists through some of the remains of the ancient cities, making comments on the people that lived there, and making some good applications to our lives concerning the workings of God.
Of great interest to me was his explanation of the city gates. In those days cities were built in strategic locations, usually near water, and always in a part of the terrain where the city could maintain a defense against an army. The gate itself was usually made of solid wood planks, sometimes with metal straps wrapping the wood. The frame around the gate was of rock and fitted into the wall of the city. Most of those gates had a tower on each side. In the ruins of the city we saw, there was a ditch that ran the length of the city, under the gates, and continued to lower terrain some distance from the city.
To make us understand how all of this fit together, the narrator explained that the purpose of the gate was obviously to give protection to the city. He talked about the towers on each side of the gate, and explained that these were usually several stories tall. In the event an enemy penetrated the gates of the city, the soldiers positioned on the inside of the city had the duty to push them back. If those protecting the city were overcome by the opposing army, the tower doors would open, and reinforcement soldiers would join the fight. From the several stories above, other soldiers would be lowered on ropes in case they were needed to defeat their opposition.
Now to the ditch. The ditch running through the city was where sewage was dumped from the households, to trickle downward toward the lower terrain and away from the city. Garbage of all kinds was also dumped in this ditch. The rains were welcome at all times, because the blessing of the rain allowed the ditch to be flushed out.
I have repeated these descriptions of city life in biblical times, not only to inform you how difficult life could be in those days, but also to make a spiritual application to us today. Regardless of their hardships, they did have a plan for dealing with adversity.
First, the concept of joining hand in hand with other inhabitants of the city for protection, leads me to see an example of Christianity today. We are all members of one body, and need the help of everyone in the body to protect ourselves from the Evil One. As a part of the body we are to be equipped and God supplies the equipment. Please read Ephesians 6:10-18. There is your plan for winning spiritual battles.
That smelly old ditch, did serve a purpose. It was there to get rid of that which was the refuse. They had a plan to remove the garbage and sewage from their city. In like manner, we should have a plan to deal with the garbage that threatens our lives in Christ.
We can depend on God for the blessings of security and the strength to meet adverse times, because we are a part of his plan.