The city of Constantinople (modern Istanbul) was well protected. It was positioned on a horn or peninsula that was surrounded by water. It could be reached from the Black Sea, in the north, by the Bosporus strait. It could be reached from the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, in the south, by the Dardanelles strait and the Sea of Marmara. These narrow straits made it easy to defend from naval attack.
It was fortified on land by walls. Constantine the Great surrounded his new capital with walls in the 4th century. Theodosius II further fortified the city in the 5th century. Triple walls were built. “Attackers first faced a 20-meter wide and 7-meter-deep ditch which could be flooded with water fed from pipes when required. The water, once in, was retained by a series of dams. Behind that was an outer wall which had a patrol track to oversee the moat. Behind this was a second wall which had regular towers and an interior terrace so as to provide a firing platform to shoot down an enemies’ attacking the moat and first wall. Then, behind this was a third, much more massive inner wall. This final defense was almost 5 meters thick, 12 meters high, and presented to the enemy 96 projecting towers. Each tower was placed around 70 meters distant from another and reach a height of 20 meters. The towers, either square or octagon in form, could hold up to three artillery machines. The inner wall was constructed using bricks and limestone blocks while the outer two were built from mixed rubble and brick courses with limestone facing” (Theodosian Walls, worldhistory.com).
In the mid-5th century, the walls of the city were severely damaged by a series of earthquakes. The city was under danger from Attila and the Huns. Something needed to be done quickly. However, it had taken years to build these defenses. “Theodosius II ordered the praetorian perfect, Constantine Flavius quickly repaired the walls… Constantine Flavius reached out to the factions of the chariot teams for aid, gathering a work force of some 16,000 supporters. Each faction was tasked with a stretch of wall, working in competition to complete their section before the other, winning the honor of victory for their team… In just sixty days, the great walls of Constantinople were restored, and the defensive moat was cleaned of debris… Hearing of the completion of the walls, the Huns abandoned their plans for conquest” (How Chariot Racing Teams Saved Constantine from The Huns, heritagedaily.com; also See Fall of Civilization: Byzantium, YouTube). What a brilliant plan. A competition between the Blues and the Greens was much like calling on Dallas Cowboy fans and Houston Texan fans, or Texas Ranger fans and Houston Astro fans to compete for team pride (Except, a far more intense rivalry existed. There was class difference. The Blues fans came from the richer part of society. The Greens fans came from the more common part of society. Each team was also tied to a political party).
City walls were important. With this in mind, let’s consider a passage from the book of Ezekiel.
“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30).
The faithful are to a land like a wall against the wrath of God. Wayne Jackson comments, “Using speech common to mankind, Jehovah said He had searched for some valid reason for not destroying this population, but none was to be found (v. 30)!” (Wayne Jackson, The Prophets, p. 285). Jim McGuiggan comments, “There is a breach in the wall of Jerusalem and God is headed for it, to enter the city and utterly destroy it. As he approaches it he is hoping that someone will stand in the breach… But no one cared enough… It isn’t literally true that there wasn’t a single righteous man in the nation at the time… There was Jeremiah, Baruch and others who came to Jeremiah’s aid. This is simply a powerful way of saying that righteousness had died in the nation” (Jim McGuiggan, The Book of Ezekiel, p. 242). The righteous may have a preserving effect on a land (cf. Genesis 18:16-32; 39:5; 2 Kings 3:14; Acts 27:21-26, 42-43).
What are we doing to help save others from the wrath of God? Are we seeking to live holy lives? Are we seeking to warn others? Do we care? Will we stand in the gap? Will we build the wall of protection?