Traveling to Israel and Jerusalem is an experience not to be forgotten. I had the opportunity to study in Israel as a BYU student from January to June in 1990. In addition, I have also traveled in Israel recently. Every site you visit in Israel is remarkable and filled with history and spiritual significance. Likewise, the Old City of Jerusalem is a place that continues to pull at my heart. Many people are familiar with the Old City and its gates. But do you what is the Golden Gate of Jerusalem. I think knowing the answer to this questions is very important. For instance it is especially important as we watch the news and consider the signs of the times we see with more and more frequency.
The Old City Wall
The large wall that surrounds the Old City of Jerusalem has eight major gates. Locals and visitors use seven of these gates today as they go in and out of the old city. But the Eastern gate or Golden Gate is sealed closed. Additionally, it is reputed that this is the oldest of all the gates. This gate, in particular, is especially poignant to me now.
What is the Golden Gate?
This site is the Eastern Gates of the walled city of Jerusalem. Some refer to them as the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3). For Jews they are known as the Gates of Mercy. Muslim call them the Gates of Eternal Life. No matter the name, the history associated with this site is wonderful.
Traditions holds that this is the gate the Christ entered on the Sunday before his crucifixion. As a result, this day is celebrated by Christians as Palm Sunday. As prophesied in Zecharaiah 9:9-11 “Behold, they King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
Consequently, this prophecy was fulfilled as the apostles obeyed the request of the Savior recorded in Matthew 21.
2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
As a visitor on the Temple Mount, one can view these gates from the western side. The beautifully crafted stone gates are believed to have been built in the late Byzantine era. And tradition holds that these relatively modern gates mark the original eastern gates of the second Temple compound, called the Shusahn Gate. For Jews, this is the gate where the Divine Presence used to appear, and where it will appear again when the Anointed One (Messiah) comes. See Ezekiel 44:1-3. In order to prevent this occurrence, the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman sealed the gates in 1541 AD.
As visitors look towards the western face of the sealed doors today, it is from above. The area around the gates is blocked off and only visitors who take the time to wander to the west of the Dome of the Rock find the seemingly forgotten doors. From this point you can see down to the level of the Byzantine time period. It is a wonderful place to quietly contemplate the significant events that have and will transpire here.
From the East
Visitors also have a wonderful of these gates when standing across the Kidron Valley, on the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. From this view one sees the city wall and cemetery. Tradition indicates that Muslims created this burial ground with the same intent, to keep the Hebrew Messiah from entering the gates. They understood that according to the Hebrew law, walking through graves would defile him.
This picturesque seen is one of my favorites. I contemplate the miraculous day when they will be open again. When the Savior enters the temple mount once again. This will be part of the winding up scenes of the last days. This will be one of the many dramatic moments where the world begins to recognize the Redeemer as the Kingdom of Heaven unfolds on the earth.
When will this day be?
In conclusion, no one knows when this exciting day will be. Now we know what is the Golden Gate of Jerusalem. We watch with eager anticipation for prophesied signs. Until then we visit the closed doors and wait. I am looking forward to visiting all of Israel, but this site in particular on my visit next year. See our itinerary here and join us as we travel to the Holy Land.
Looking down on the Golden Gate from the Temple Mount. These gates have been sealed since 1541 AD.
This view of the Golden Gate (from the east) is from the Garden of Gethsemane.