“Enemy at the Gates” was a movie starring Jude Law and Ed Harris about a Russian and a German sniper playing a game of cat-and-mouse during the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II. “Enemies inside the gate” is the epic story about the batttle that’s warring inside of us right now.
On the week before Jesus was to be betrayed and crucified, the following event took place:
9 Jesus rode in the center of the procession—crowds going before him and crowds coming behind him, and they all shouted, “Bring the victory, Lord, Son of David! He is the blessed one sent from the Lord Yahweh! We celebrate with praises to God in the highest!” (Matt.21:9 TPT*)
As Jesus rode into the Eastern Gate (Golden Gate), the crowd was shouting, “Bring the victory, Lord, Son of David!” This is what the Aramaic word, “Hosanna!” means. The palm tree is also a symbol of triumph (see Rev.7:9).
Many in the crowd obviously recognized that Jesus was their long-awaited Messiah, calling Him “Son of David.” But did they understand Jesus?
Do we understand Jesus?
First of all, what victory did the crowd anticipate Jesus would bring? And who was Israel’s enemy, and were these the same things that Jesus meant to bring us?
To the people of Israel, their enemy was clearly the Roman Empire who had occupied and subjugated them for about 90 years when Jesus rode His donkey into Jerusalem.
Jesus entered Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate, which is prophetic in many respects—describing Messiah’s glorius entry, His sacrificial death, and eventual return (see Ezek.11:23; 43:1-5; 46:12; Zech.14:4-5). It’s also prophetic that this gate was totally shut, interestingly, by the Muslims in 1540-41 (see Ezek.44:1-2).
Victory, to first-century Israel, was their Messiah coming to end the Roman oppression and setting up His kingdom rule from Jerusalem, so you can imagine their shock when, after Jesus went through the Eastern Gate, He turned left toward Temple and overturned their money-changing tables instead of turning right, toward the Roman Garrison to overturn the Roman army!
So we need to talk about what God means by victory. My Bible notes makes the following interesting point on this verse:
“Many want victory before the cross, but true victory comes after the resurrection.”
The world defines victory in warfare as superior forces overpowering a mortal enemy. God defines victory by sending His Son to die for our sins on the cross and raise us up with Him in heavenly places with His resurrection (Eph.2:6). This is why victory in Revelation could be defined this way:
10 Then I heard a triumphant voice in heaven proclaiming:
“Now salvation and power are set in place,
and the kingdom reign of our God
and the ruling authority of his Anointed One
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who relentlessly accused them
day and night before our God,
has now been defeated—cast out once and for all!
11 They conquered him completely
through the blood of the Lamb
and the powerful word of his testimony.
They triumphed because they did not love and cling
to their own lives, even when faced with death. (Rev.12:10-11 TPT*)
This passage also answers the question, “Who is our enemy?” For Jesus said that His heavenly Father treats the just and unjust the same, and that we’re to love those who would be our natural enemy (Matt.5:43-47). This is not to say that people aren’t involved, they certainly are, but the people themselves are not God’s enemy, nor are they ours.
Paul further clarified just who and what our enemies are (and who or what they’re not):
12 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. (Eph.6:12 NIV*)
The chief enemy, of course, is Satan, “…the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who relentlessly accused them day and night before our God.”
Do we actually believe this? It seems we do, rather sheepishly. But we downplay this spiritual reality to our own peril. Second, Paul tells us that our enemies are arguments and pretensions….
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor.10:3-5 NIV*)
So, these enemies inside the gate are both spiritual and psychological, not mortal. They are both demonic entities and demonic ideologies that put people into bondage.
This is why it’s important. The person(s) you can’t stand may believe lies that puts them in bondage or harmful addictions; they may embrace evil ideologies that are toxic…they may even hate you…but they are not your enemy. They are victims of your enemy. We must get this right if we’re going to be on the same side as Jesus.
What is the gate, then? We will look at that next time.