What does the OT role of gatekeeper have to do with being a citizen of a city on a hill?Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
**not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript.**
VALUE FOUR: READINESS OVER PASSIVITY
Matthew 5:14 says, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.” This verse is the mission statement of the Greensburg Church of the Nazarene. Where God has placed this building, our church is not designed to be hidden.
By professing faith in Jesus, His light dwells in you. That makes you and me citizens of this city on a hill. We are citizen-soldiers serving in this outpost of the Kingdom of heaven. And as such, we need to be brave. At least that is what I have been telling you for the last year.
The first three values of a citizen of a city on a hill are: [pause to let someone answer] People over programs. Holiness over popularity. Brokenness over pride. Just as our Lord came to save people, we exist to see people find redemption in Him. And we will not compromise the ways of God in the name discipleship. When we fall short, we chose to embrace the brokenness so God’s strength can be made perfect in us.
1 Chronicles 9:22-27
22 All these, who were chosen as gatekeepers at the thresholds, were two hundred twelve. They were enrolled by genealogies in their villages. David and the seer Samuel established them in their office of trust. 23 So they and their descendants were in charge of the gates of the house of the Lord, that is, the house of the tent, as guards. 24 The gatekeepers were on the four sides, east, west, north, and south; 25 and their kindred who were in their villages were obliged to come in every seven days, in turn, to be with them; 26 for the four chief gate keepers, who were Levites, were in charge of the chambers and the treasures of the house of God. 27 And they would spend the night near the house of God; for on them lay the duty of watching, and they had charge of opening it every morning. (NRSV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
Back in the book of Numbers, as Moses was leading God’s people from Egypt to the Promised land, his brother Aaron was there also. In Numbers 18, God tells Moses that Aaron, and his sons are to be set apart to serve as priests, to go to God for the people with their sacrifices. But Aaron and his sons were not the only ones called to serve at the tabernacle, or the tent of meeting. God also called the entire Levite tribe to serve.
When God’s people reach Canaan, the tent of meeting does not need to move as frequently. This does not release the Levites from service, it only changes what that looks like. Looking at the establishment of one of these new roles we learn our fourth core value as citizens of a city on a hill.
IN THE TEXT: The gatekeepers
***[v22] ENTRUSTED WITH THE OFFICE ***
Two hundred and twelve men were chosen as gatekeepers at the temple. This sounds like a menial task, simply standing at the entry and exit. That may have been exactly what they were doing, but these were roles established by David and Samuel. David who slew Goliath, defeated all Israel’s enemies, and brought stability to God’s people. Samuel was the son of Hannah, a woman so desperate for a child that she promised her firstborn to God. When God came through, Hannah followed through. Her son, Samuel, would go on to anoint kings and be God’s messenger to an entire nation. When these two men are associated with a role, it must be important, no matter how minimal the task seems.
David and Samuel were helping the nation transition from a band of tribes to those under the rule of a king. Even how they practiced religion was undergoing change. These two men knew they could not do it alone. One was the head of the government, the other overseen the spiritual welfare, there was not enough time to do the other things necessary. So, they entrusted the gatekeeping, among other roles, to the Levites.
***[v23-25] ENTRUSED WITH RESPONSIBILITY***
In verse 24, the chronicler records, “The gatekeepers were on the four sides, east, west, north, and south.” They were given the responsibility of every direction. Not simply one side, all of them. These gatekeepers were not placed over the least important gate, but all of them.
Notice they were also working on a scheduled rotation. As mentioned in verse 22, there were 212 gatekeepers. Not sure how many gates there were into the house of God, but keeping these gates required a team. Whenever there is a team, that means people must work together. For this important role, these gatekeepers were given the responsibility on all sides and that of working with one another.
***[v26-27] ENTRUSTED WITH CARRYING IT OUT***
As gatekeepers they were charged with keeping the gates. To live up to this call, they had to work with the others who were also gatekeepers, but also in tandem with whoever was the king and the priests. But as gatekeepers they were entrusted with only one task, keeping the gates. They were given this responsibility with the belief they could do it, and it was up to them to carry it out.
FROM THE TEXT: The priesthood of believers
What does this have to do with being a citizen of a city on hill? I know this passage is not an exciting one. It is one of those mundane Bible passages that is simply sharing information, those passages are not good for doctrine are they? Maybe not, but sometimes they do reveal something to us that displays what is important.
In this case, the Levites had a role that complemented the priesthood. The priesthood is what we immediately think of when talking about the tent of meeting and the temple. But do you think the priests had time to take care of all that livestock? What about keeping the worship area clean? Our passage highlighted the gatekeepers, but that is only one job the priests did not have time to do. That does not mean those roles are not important, however the priests cannot answer their call by trying to fill them.
This is a truth we need to hear in our time. As pastors the expectation is that you are to do it all for the church. A lot of this is on us pastors too, believing we can do it all by ourselves. But just as the priests had the Levites, the pastors have the priesthood of believers. The apostles illustrate this to us in Acts 6. A despite comes up about the distribution of food between two different groups in the church (imagine that). The disciples had been given the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel, and they did not have time to do anything else. They even go so far to say, “It is not right we should neglect the word of God to wait on tables.” What do they do? They appoint seven, who were filled with the Spirit, to take on this role.
BEYOND THE TEXT: Readiness over passivity.
My job as your pastor is not to do it all for you, but to equip you. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4, “The gifts God gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry.” You and I are supposed to do the work of ministry as citizens of a city on a hill to the community of Greensburg together!
Since I am called to equip you for ministry through the preaching of the word, and you are called to participate in the work of ministry, this means our last value requires more than you simply being a warm body in the pew. As citizens of this city on a hill, we value readiness over passivity. Readiness means you have put on the armor of God and have been trained to serve in God’s church.
All of us are called to read our Bibles. Every single one of us is called to be a prayer warrior. And we all need to be saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. Those things apply to every person here. If you are battle ready, filled with the Spirit, those are things you should not have to be begged to do, nor should you have to be prodded and applauded to come to church. However, not everyone here is called to be a teacher or preacher. He might be calling one of you to preach, but you are most likely being equipped for something else.
At our church, to reach the community of Greensburg we have many roles that I cannot do. I either do not have the talent or the call, or it would distract from my call to preach and prevent me from equipping you. Our immediate needs at this church are children’s church workers, door greeters, a missions’ president, and a youth leader to work with Nicole. Who knows, God may be calling you to a need in our church that has not been mentioned. Only you know what God is telling you. As the church, we will help affirm that call. You may try something and fail, or try and learn that God is leading you to a different role. That is okay. But what you cannot do is be at this church and sit on the sidelines.
CALL TO RESPONSE:
1 Peter 2:4-5 says, “Come to God, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.”
Season 1 Episode 33, "Most important question." The text for the message is from Mark 8:27-30, part 1 of a series called The Son of Man. The question we are trying to answer is "What is the most important question?"