THE GATE OF THE YEAR, a Devotion for 5 April 2017 Anno Domini
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 14:1-6 (KJV)
There are several distinctives that apply to Christianity which are mostly absent in all other religions, and others that that are exclusive only to the Christian religion. One distinctive that is exclusive to Christianity alone is the Holy Bible. It is a history Book, a Geography Book, a Science Book, a Devotional Book, a Prophetic Book, and the Word of God. No other book can date its history to the antiquity of the Holy Bible. None other Book bears the authenticity of truth of the Bible. Not a single word or line can be proven to be false. It offers principles of meteorology, biology, and physical science which inspired sciences of the same names.
The entire Bible is personified by a Person – the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Word from Genesis 1:1 to Revelations 22:21. The Bible presents itself as absolute truth and, indeed, it is so. It reveals to us the beginning and end of all things. It tells us in the Book of Job that the earth hangs in space upon nothing, while books of other religions fall far short in defining such great truths. For example, in the Hindu faith, the world is purportedly held up by a great elephant that is standing on a giant tortoise. In Islam, the whole Creation began with a “clot of blood.” It takes a far greater faith (even if ill-informed) to believe these ridiculous fables than it takes to believe that a Higher Intelligence (God) created the world just as He reveals in Genesis.
The poem, GOD KNOWS, was written in 1908 by Minnie Louise Haskins, but became known by its popular name of THE GATE OF THE YEAR. The opening lines of the poem, listed below, were quoted by King George VI during his Christmas address to the British people in 1939. It was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I and her daughter, Crown Princess Elizabeth who personally handed the poem to her father on that day. The occasion was also held during the beginning days of the Second World War, and its words would serve to inspire the hard-pressed nation during the five long years of struggle. The quote from the poem is engraved on the door of Memorial Hall at Windsor Castle where King George VI and the Queen Consort, Elizabeth I, are buried.
THE GATE OF THE YEAR
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
The poem bears one weakness – it is that of the ‘unknown way’ existing separate and apart from the omniscient power of God. He knows all ways, but there is only One Way that is true and which is the Way of Life – the Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian can know with absolute certainty that Known Way in Christ. It is revealed by the Word of Truth and bolstered by unquestioning Faith.
Our Lord made reference to two ways only – a Broad Way, and a Straight and Narrow Way. “13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matt 7:13-14 (KJV) The science of matter precludes any person or object from going in two different ways at the same time, so we must be on one or the other of those two ways. The conscientious Christian may at times wonder how it could be possible for him to be on the Straight and Narrow Way given all his frailties and weaknesses; but that simply proves the magnificence of Christ in redeeming us from our sins. We are on the Straight and Narrow Way by faith and grace – not by works and personal merit. It is by His Merit that we are traveling that Straight and Narrow Way.
This clear distinction of the Straight and Narrow Way conflicts sharply with the claims of the Church of Rome that “All roads lead to Rome.” This is true only if you are on the road, or roads, that lead to Rome. There can, indeed, be many roads leading to Rome from different directions; but there is only One Road, and One Direction, that leads up to Heaven.
The “man that stands at the Gate of the Year” is none other than the Ancient of Days, the Alpha and Omega, the Great I AM, and the Beginning and End – the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the very Door by which we must enter Heaven. There is no other Way. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:1-10 (KJV)
Though we may wander from the Way, we have the Bible as our Chart and Compass. We know that the Word is Christ Personified. He is not only the Door, but also He stands as our Good Shepherd to guide us with love to “green pastures and still waters.” He is unchanging – the same yesterday, today, and forever. “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”2 Corinthians 3:4-6
“5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Prov 3:5-6 (KJV) For a great part of my life, I served as a military aviator. I quickly learned in instrument training, and later on flying instrument missions, that I could not trust my own sense of balance, direction or spatial orientation without a firm trust in the instruments with which the aircraft was equipped. It is a proven fact that 100% of pilots will perish in instrument flight conditions without instrument gages upon which to rely. The means of navigation, too, comes from without ourselves. We rely on GPS, VOR, and ADF to find our Way. Trusting in that sure Power beyond ourselves will prove a great benefit. We shall then have a safe flight Home. The same is true of the Word of God. We must not lean upon our own understanding, but place our full trust in the Lord.