Open Doors, Portals, and Gateways in the Bible

Doors are portals – they are the transition from one space and environment to another. Have you ever thought that every time you go through a doorway, you're leaving one space and entering another? Just like that, you are no longer in the hallway – you are now in the lounge! One minute you are at home, the very next you go through the threshold and you are outside! This also works for greater concepts, because our humble doorframes also point to deeper spiritual realities. This is why God wanted His people to write on their doorframes…

Write it on your doorframes!

God imparted his instructions to Israel and then told them to put reminders of His word on their hands and heads, their doorframes and gates.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)

Today Jewish people keep this commandment by affixing a “mezuzah” beside their doors, which contains a bit of Scripture, the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Jesus, when asked to summarize the law, referred to that verse: love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and might, adding that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Others like Karaite Jews (who do not accept the Talmud as authoritative) and Samaritans literally write out the Ten Commandments over their doors. Either way, we see that doors are considered key to our comings and goings, our very lives, much as our hands and heads represent our minds and our actions. It is not unrelated that the ceremony for the bondservant who chose willingly to stay with his master involved a doorframe.

The word mezuzah (מזוזה) is translated into English as doorframe or gatepost, and is connected to the Hebrew word to move (זוז) because the door moves on its hinges which are attached to the gatepost or doorframe. The entire concept of a portal or door is the idea of moving: coming, going, transitioning from one place to another.

Significant portals in the Bible

There are several times in the Bible where things are about to move from one reality to the next, from one stage of the story to a whole new chapter, and a doorway is mentioned in the story. There are a number of significant encounters in doorways like this. One of the first was at the tent of Abraham and Sarah right before their family, and the whole of human history, was about to change forever.:

Then Adonai appeared to him at Mamre’s large trees while he was sitting in the entrance of his tent during the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes to see, suddenly, three men were standing right by him. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed down to the ground…
Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”
“There, in the tent,” he said.
Then He said, “I will most surely return to you in about a year’s time, surprisingly, Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind Him. (Genesis 18:1,2,9,10)

One of the visitors is the LORD Himself, clothed in human flesh. They were on the cusp of a transition that would affect us all… nine months later, the child of promise would appear through whom the Messiah of the world would come. Later in the book of Judges, another barren woman appeals to the high priest, Eli, who was at the doorway of the temple (1 Samuel 1:9). Another mother of a transition follows as God brings Samuel onto the scene, who would usher in the era of the kings after the time of the judges. 

And of course doorframes feature famously in the Passover story. The lintels smeared with the blood of sacrifice were bypassed by the Angel of Destruction, and the families inside were saved. Yes, doorframes are significant. Israel's leaders like Moses and Joshua would speak with God at doorway of tent of meeting, signifying the openness of the communication – the portal between heaven and earth. God deliberately created this space where He could meet His people. There are multiple stories of openings, portals, doorways to new opportunities, choices to be made, the start of new adventures and seasons… but there are also times when the door must be shut.

When doors must be shut

Jesus tells us to shut the door when we pray, and we also see the prophets of old closing the doors when praying for miracles (see 2 Kings 4) to indicate the seriousness of the intimate encounter with God which was about to occur. The door of Noah's ark was shut by God Himself (Genesis 7:16), and is a picture of salvation. There will be a day when the door of salvation is finally closed by God.

And someone said to Him, “Master, are only a few being saved?”
Then Yeshua said to them,
“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. Once the Master of the household gets up and shuts the door, and you’re standing outside and begin knocking on the door, saying, ‘Master, open up for us,’ then He will say to you, ‘I don’t know where you come from.’ Then you will start to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your company, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you, I don’t know where you come from. Get away from Me, all of you evildoers!’”

“There will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. And they will come from the east and west and from the north and south, and they will recline at table in the kingdom of God. And indeed, some are last who shall be first, and some are first who shall be last.” (Luke 13:23-30)

Jesus describes Himself as the door, the gate for the sheep, in John 10 (verses 7 and 9) emphasizing that He is the only way into the Kingdom. He is the only way to salvation. There is no other way in, just as is illustrated in the Tabernacle pattern that God gave Moses: there was only one entrance. Ultimately, all authority to open and close doors lies with Jesus, Son of David (Isaiah 22:22, Revelation 3:7).

The door of decision

But just as the theme of the door to salvation being open for a limited time is repeated throughout the New Testament, we also see a remarkable offer which actually gives us the opportunity to open or close the doors of our lives to God. In Revelation, Jesus tells us that He waits for us to open the door and invite Him in:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Jesus will not force salvation on anyone. It's up to us. We are given this time of grace to make our own decisions, and it's our choice whether we want to let Him in and and get to know Him… or not. You can do this today, right now even! These words of Jesus were written to a church but they apply to us all. Will you open the door and welcome Jesus in? Will you accept His gift of salvation? Because the time will come when the doors of decision will one day be shut forever. This calls for wisdom.

“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13)

Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

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