A Tale of Three Gates—Happy Ending

THE visitor to the city of London has spread before him an almost bewildering array of fascinating and ancient sites to occupy his time and command his interest. Presently ranked among the world’s greatest metropolitan areas, it first came to historic notice when Julius Caesar landed in England in 54 B.C., and personally chose the very spot where the Romans were to build their earliest fortress in that country. And over the intervening centuries the tides of invaders and defenders have ebbed and flowed over that lovely land, with old London at the center of it all.

In 1665 the bubonic plague engulfed the city, taking a terrible toll, and the next year the city was almost totally destroyed by fire, including extensive damage to the old St. Paul’s Cathedral. In the rebuilding of the city that rapidly followed, the talents of the great Sir Christopher Wren found free artistic rein, one fine example of which may be enjoyed today in the magnificent new St. Paul’s Cathedral that rose on the ruins of the old.

Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, Whitehall, St. James Palace, Hyde Park, the Thames embankment with its charming view of the busy river and its many bridges—all beckon alluringly to the visitor, and not without rewarding him with delightful and interesting tidbits of the history of this great city. But no visit to this metropolis would be complete that did not include the Tower of London.

Ancient Tower of Joys and Tears

On the death without offspring of King Edward the Confessor on January 5, 1066, the succession to the throne was immediately sought by four powerful aspirants, two of whom were soon slain in battle by Harold, brother-in-law of Edward, who had hastily had himself crowned king. Marching rapidly south to Hastings with his army to dispose of his final rival, William, Duke of Normandy, Harold himself was killed, and William the Conqueror shortly brought London, and all of England, under his rule, and was crowned King of England, in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, in the year 1066.

Having conquered England, William was now determined to hold it, and soon the city of London was surrounded by a ring of castles, or forts, garrisoned with William’s troops. But in London itself he ordered the construction of the most imposing and impregnable of all as a defense against “the fierce populace.” And thus the world-famous Tower of London came into being about 1078, and it stands today in substantially its original form.

It is not a lovely building as buildings go, but it was and still is strong, as it was intended to be. It is imposing even today, as its square, stone mass topped by four corner towers rises, just north of the Thames, some one hundred feet above ground, surrounded by an array of auxiliary buildings, a wall, and a moat, now dry.

Like its outward appearance, its history, though fascinating, is not lovely. For long centuries after its completion the fortunes of England and its people were closely intertwined with the Tower itself. It has been fortress, palace, museum, jail, place of execution. Through its doors have passed kings and queens, princes and pretenders, scoundrels and martyrs. Its rooms have resounded with the joys of feasting and the screams of the tortured. In its deep-most dungeons “confessions” were wrung by heartless deputies from the innocent as well as the guilty on the most satanic instruments of torture ever devised by man. On the adjoining Tower Hill the populace regularly fought with each other under the scaffolding to catch the blood dripping from beheaded victims in the belief that it had magic powers to heal. It is not too difficult to imagine that the imploring voices seeking mercy, the hopeless weeping of the condemned, the agonizing screams of the victims of the rack, though unheard by human ear, still echo through the halls of the Tower, setting at naught the beauty and magnificence of the priceless crown jewels now on display in the lowest levels of the Tower.

The Water Gate

Entrance to this place of contradictions was gained by various gates, any one of which might be used by the high and mighty. But the condemned were usually brought to the Tower by barge, and entered by way of the water gate, also known as the Traitor’s Gate. It was deemed safer to bring them by water, for this reduced the opportunity of the populace to snatch them from their captors, whether to kill or to free them. History records that of those who entered the Tower by way of the water gate, whether guilty or innocent, few ever left it alive; for justice in those days was pretty much what the higher powers decided it should be.

But for some time now the Tower’s main purpose is use as a museum and repository of the crown jewels. Its use as a prison has been terminated, its instruments of torture banished, for civilization and justice are supposed to have advanced beyond the crude and cruel concepts of the Middle Ages.

Watergate, U. S. A.

Now, in this supposedly enlightened twentieth century, in a nation that has long prided itself on its national integrity, and which taught its children to embrace the high ideals and virtues of its George Washingtons, Thomas Jeffersons and Abraham Lincolns, another Watergate has come to light, whose slimy effluence still spreads unchecked over the nation’s chief city, defiling all it touches. This so-called Watergate Affair takes its name from the building complex in which the headquarters of the Democratic National Party were located, and it bids fair to gain renown as one of the most celebrated and infamous incidents ever to besmirch the history of the United States.

The full story has so far eluded the best efforts of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to discover, but enough has already come to light, through admissions of some of the highly placed figures involved, to reveal an almost unbelievable assortment of hooliganism, “dirty tricks,” attempts at character assassination, illegal operations, perjury, and subsequent attempts at obstruction of justice, all perpetrated or authorized by seemingly intelligent and incorruptible people in high places in the administration. The so-far-unanswered question in the minds of all is, just how high will the awful stench reach?

In support of their commission of these illegal acts, some of the perpetrators plainly stated that their paramount purpose was to assure the re-election of the President. In other words, they stated that it was their conviction that the accomplishment of what they held to be a good result justified the commission of crimes; in short, they did evil in order that what they conceived to be good might result. This false premise, of course, has been the basis of wrong-doing by men and nations since time immemorial. It is completely contrary to the simple Bible admonition, “Depart from evil, and do good.”—Ps. 34:14

Many of those pitiful figures who passed through the water gate of the Tower of London were said by their enemies to be traitors, and possibly some of them truly were such. The actual term “traitor” has not been used in connection with those involved in the dreary drama now unfolding in the caucus room of the Senate, but something very close to it has been suggested by more than one of the sharp interrogators. Some of those involved maintained that they concealed the Watergate break-in and the subsequent “cover-up” operation from Mr. Nixon in order to prevent his taking the proper and honest corrective action that might endanger his chances of re-election. It was pointedly suggested to these that the first loyalty of a lieutenant to his leader is to warn him of any and all matters which threaten to impede the proper performance of his duties, in this case as the nation’s chief executive; that they were disloyal not only to their Chief, but also to all the people of the nation whom they purported to serve.

“Iniquity Shall Abound”

All the facts in the case are not yet in; indeed, so numerous are the contradictions of the various witnesses that one wonders if it will ever be possible to separate truth from fiction. But enough has already been disclosed to indicate serious and far-flung breaches of the law, of ethics, and of the truth, by men in high places, bringing shame and humiliation upon this nation such as it has never before experienced.

The increasing disregard for the law by both high and low that is manifest all about us today is but another evidence of the momentous times in which we are living. It is yet another proof that we are in the last days of this present evil world, which Jehovah God has said he will utterly destroy and remove. (Isa. 13:9-11) Writing to Timothy, Paul said, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, … trucebreakers, false accusers, … traitors, heady, high-minded, … having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”—II Tim. 3:1-5

At one of his last meetings with his disciples, Jesus was asked, “What shall be the sign of thy presence, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3) The Lord had earlier indicated to them that he must go away, and the disciples wanted to know how they would discern his return, for they knew that that event must precede the establishment of the kingdom for which they longed. Among other events which would indicate the end of the age Jesus told them that “iniquity shall abound.” (Matt. 24:12) The word “iniquity” in this instance is translated from the Greek word anomia (a, negative, nomos, law), i.e., lawlessness. What our Lord was saying was that at the time of his second presence the world would experience (among other signs) an increase in lawlessness; and that disregard for law is indeed on the increase today is a fact that needs not to be argued, for we see it at every turn.

It is just another of the many indications to the Lord’s watchmen that we are in the last days, and that “our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” In view of the implications of this truth, the apostle continues with his admonitions to the Lord’s people, “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day.” (Rom. 13:11-13) Let us prepare ourselves, the apostle says, for that abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when, in association with our Lord, it will be our privilege to bring the blessings of life and truth to all the resurrected world of mankind.

A Joyous Foregleam

The Scriptures tell us of yet another water gate—but this is a more hopeful one! While serving as cupbearer to Artaxerxes in Babylon, to which the Jews had earlier been carried captive, Nehemiah sought permission of the king to return to Jerusalem to restore the city. The king graciously granted the request, and even supplied Nehemiah with a letter to the keeper of the king’s forest, with orders to give Nehemiah beams for the gates of the palace, and for the wall of the city.—Neh. 2:1-8

After having made the city secure by rebuilding the wall and repairing the numerous gates, we read that “all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. And Ezra the priest … read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. … And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; … and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”—Neh. 8:1-6

What a time of rejoicing this was for the people! By God’s grace they had returned from captivity, and were dwelling once more in their beloved Jerusalem, the City of Peace. “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense and caused them to understand the reading. And Nehemiah … and Ezra the priest … said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.” (Neh. 8:1-9) And later they renewed their intention “to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes.”—Neh. 10:29

“Enter In Through the Gates”

We know, of course, that they were no more able to keep the law then, than previously. But how beautifully that event in the shadow of the water gate in the City of Peace foregleams that greater return of the whole world of mankind from the captivity of the grave, when the kingdom of God, “that great city, the holy Jerusalem,” will have descended out of heaven from God and been established in the earth for the blessing of the people! The city will be secure, having “a wall great and high, and … twelve gates, … and twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. … And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”—Rev. 21:10

What a glorious city! And what joy shall reign therein! And surely the people will once more weep, shedding tears of joy, as they hear and understand the word of the Law. “And the nations … shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; for there shall be no night there.”—Rev. 21:24,25

Neither shall there be any evil there, or evildoers; no liars, no false accusers of their fellow men, no truce-breakers, no traitors, for “the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.” No screams of the tortured innocent shall resound within its righteous walls, for “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.”—Rev. 21:4,8

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” For “blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”—Rev. 22:14,17

Dawn Bible Students Association
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