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A Lion at the Gate

A Lion at the Gate

I leaned back and stared up at the southeast corner of the Temple Mount, an imposing wall that loomed over us in the heart of Jerusalem. This corner of the Temple is where Satan is believed to have tempted Jesus as they stood on the pinnacle of the massive wall.

“If you are the Son of God,” Satan said to Jesus, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Some argue that the southwest corner of the Temple Mount, not the southeast corner, would’ve been a more likely spot for this temptation, because there would’ve been a lot more people on that side to witness Jesus’s power.

But whatever corner it might have been, these walls are staggering. They average roughly 40 feet in height and 8 feet in thickness, and the only way past the walls is through the historic gates. Jerusalem has been conquered and reconquered so many times throughout history that the number and names of the gates have changed again and again. But today the Old City of Jerusalem features eight gates.

Nancy and I entered the Old City through the Lion’s Gate on the eastern wall, near where it is believed that Stephen was stoned to death. According to tradition, it’s called the Lion’s Gate because a Turkish sultan from the 16th century dreamed he was being eaten by lions as payback for planning to destroy the city. The sultan built the walls to show he had no such ideas.

Another fascinating entryway to the Old City is the Eastern Gate, which was sealed up by Ottoman Turks in 1530. The Messiah is supposed to pass through this Gate, so the Turkish sultan plugged up the gate to prevent that from happening. However, he was a bit too late. Jesus is believed to have already entered this Eastern Gate (also known as the Golden Gate), when He arrived in Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

City walls, such as the massive ones encircling Jerusalem, were vital to the security of all ancient cities. The gates were closed at night and closely guarded to keep out thieves and marauders. As we saw at various archaeological sites in Israel, some ancient cities also foiled invaders by not providing a direct entrance through their main gate. People entering had to follow a zig-zag path through the gate—a clever way to trap any possible invaders trying to break into the city.

Some commentators compare the gates of Jerusalem to our five senses—sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Just as a city needs to guard its gates, we too must protect ourselves from similar “invaders”—greed, envy, and other sins that try to slip through the gates of our senses—and we must teach these important lessons to our children.

Like sentries on the watchtower of an ancient city, we must be constantly on guard. What do you allow into your mind and spirit through your five gates? What are you allowing into the hearts and mind of your family? Are you letting sins invade, tearing you down, brick by brick, and allowing them to destroy your peace?

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:5-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Did you notice what Paul says is guarding your hearts and minds? He says it’s the peace of God.

We can try to guard ourselves from temptation, relying on our own strength, but it’s a difficult battle. That’s why we need the peace of God to stand guard, remaining ever vigilant to keep our enemies from slipping past the gates of our hearts and minds. We cannot do it on our own.

In Philippians 4:8-9, Paul goes on to tell us what we should welcome through our gates. He says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

We all need a lion protecting the gates of our minds and hearts, just as Jerusalem has its own Lion’s Gate. The good news is that we do have a lion ready to fight for us, tooth and claw. In fact, the defender of our gates is the most powerful lion to ever walk the Earth. Our defender is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and He knows a thing or two about fighting temptation.

Our lion stood up against Satan on the pinnacle of the Temple, so count on Him to help you stand up to Satan in the pinnacle of your heart.

History by the Slice Family Activity

Read Philippians 4:5-9 and Luke 4:5-8. Then discuss these questions.

  1. Why did Satan tell Jesus to throw Himself from the Temple?
  2. How did Jesus respond?
  3. What does it mean to put God to the test? Why should God not be put to a test?
  4. How does the peace of God guard your mind and heart?
  5. How do you find the peace of God?
  6. How can prayer, petition, and thanksgiving protect you?
  7. What prayers and petitions do you offer up to God today? What are you thankful for?

By: Doug Peterson has written 42 books for VeggieTales and is the author of four historical novels: The Disappearing Man, The Puzzle People, The Vanishing Woman, and The Lincoln League. His most recent book is The Call of the Mild, co-written with Torry Martin. Visit Doug at

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