The ‘Gate of the Year’ (2024): Will it bring world war or peace?

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By Robert McQuillan —

A poem titled The Gate of the Year was given by a young Princess Elizabeth (13) to her father King George VI. He included it in his 1939 Christmas broadcast, striking a chord with a country facing the uncertainty of war.

As he concluded his encouraging message, the king commented: ‘A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace how thankful we shall all be…If it brings continued struggle, we shall remain undaunted.’

Then he read the following extract of a poem:

‘I said to a 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 a light and safer than a known way.”

The king finished with: ‘May that Almighty hand guide and uphold us all.’

Royal family, with Elizabeth next to her father

Nobody had been able to identify the poet: But at midnight, Boxing Day (December 26th), the BBC announced the author was Minnie Louise Haskins, who had penned the poem in 1908 as God Knows.

A James Stewart movie, 1940’s Mortal Storm used the same poem. Set in South Germany’s Alps, it tells of the change that sweeps a particular town when Hitler’s coming to power in January 1933 is announced. Contentment between families and friends vanishes when most of the town embraces the Nazi creed, and only a few don’t. It is indeed the beginning of a mortal storm.

As this classic movie concludes, lines from Haskins’ poem, God Knows, were narrated over celestial music.

James Stewart in The Mortal Storm

Gate to 2024

Gates may be thought of as closures, barriers, or entrances. 2024’s gate isn’t a closed one… it opened after midnight December 31st and will end on the same date at midnight.

The world has grown technologically since World War II, yet there is still an awareness of darkness out there… as King George VI said of the coming 1940, ‘We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace how thankful we shall all be. If it brings continued struggle, we shall remain undaunted.’

Today, behind the smiles and happy talk, many people sense an unknown ahead and are looking for comfort and assurance. Yes, unfortunately we’re living in troubled times… war in certain nations, rumors of war, crime increasing, natural disasters, and other heartbreaking distresses.

Praise God that Christians can remain undaunted, relying on God’s almighty hand to both uphold and guide us!

Gate to an unknown way

I keep coming across those who tell me what they want to achieve this year… but they don’t know how. I refer them to my article Show me the Way, God, encouraging them to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, and listen for His gentle whisper in their ear.

When one opens any gate, it’s with the intention of moving on. No doubt we all want to travel on this year even though we may be thinking as King George VI –  ‘We cannot tell what it will bring.’

Is that you? Here are great encouragements –

  • Dr Jim McClure daring us to take A Road Untravelled, and giving several comforting scriptures of God’s assurance that He will be by our side. [A Road Untravelled]
  • Mama Lava suggesting ‘It’s bound to be a wild ride’ and telling that she has her Handle Verse of assurance that she’s clasping tightly in 2024 no matter what happens. And challenging readers to discover ours. [I’m One for More in 2024]
  • Carol Round reminding us that ‘We don’t know what tomorrow will bring but we know who holds our future in His hands.’ [Finding Hope in the New Year]
  • Norman and Margaret Moss’ meditation encouraging us to discover ‘How exciting it is to know that Jesus offers us more than mere physical eyesight!’ [See 2024 Though Spiritual Eyesight]
  • Angeline Selvakumarisharing God’s blessings… but also warning about three major satanic tricks [God’s Goodness, Our Joy, Satan’s Manipulations]

If you dare ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God’ then ‘That shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way.’

Gate in scripture

The Bible speaks not only about one gate but gate and gates mentioned some 352 times. Now it would be tempting to share about several of these, but I choose only two particular scriptures…
(i) Hebrews 12:13
‘… so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through His own blood.’ Time passes so quickly and in two months we’ll be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and the good news that brings.

Have you ever thought about this verse’s connection with the Old Testament Leviticus 16:21-22 scapegoat offered for Israel’s sins. This scapegoat – ‛ăzâ’zêl – ‘goat of departure’ was then sent away outsidethe tabernacle into the wilderness signifying that God had dealt with past sins… but this event had to happen yearly!

Praise God for the reality of Hebrews 10:10,  ‘… we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.’ Jesus was our scapegoat, voluntarily being sacrificed on Calvary’s cross outside Jerusalem’s city gate!

Now, filled with His Holy Spirit and knowing He will enable us, we can dare go ‘outside’ (wherever, whatever ‘outside’ will mean to us in 2024) and, putting our hand in the hand of God, travel safely doing whatever He would want us achieve this year!

(ii) Matthew 7:13-14CJB
‘Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it. ’

If 2024 proves to be a hard road, it must be taken step by step, moving forward to achieve much for Jesus, not just some initial steps and then forgotten about because His way is too hard!

No wonder few find this road!

Gate to be aimed for in 2024

I too have my desire(s) to achieve this year. I too know of some ‘mortal storm’ happening in some shape or form each new day… but I dare to confess believingly that our God is still in control! And I would personalize King George VI’s words and boldly say, ‘Even though 2024 brings continued struggle, I shall remain undaunted believing that Almighty God’s hand will guide and uphold me.’

Can you trust God to show you what to aim for in 2024? Even if it means some narrow gate that you have to strive to enter? Then picture that ‘man at the gate’ as your comforter, your friend the Holy Spirit. Listen to Him and really know the comfort of God’s mighty hand. Oh see Hislight and ‘tread safely into the unknown.’

Ira Stanphill’s famous 1950 hymn I Know Who Holds Tomorrowis referred to this month by Dr Jim and Carol Round… I would add one portion that’s precious to me regarding the future:

‘For its skies may turn to grey,
I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what lies ahead.’

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Dr Robert and Pr Maureen McQuillan’s links: [email protected] and Facebook. Links: As above.

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