In it’s prime, the Great Wall of China was 6,400 km (4,000 mi) long, extending from Shanhaiguan to Lop Nur. In many places, it is still up to 7 to 10 meters high (25 to 35 ft), 7.5 meters thick (25 ft) at the base and 4.5 meters thick (15 ft) at the top. It is made largely of stone slabs, bricks and lime on the inner and outer facings with packed dirt in between.
It was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) in order to hold out the raiding Manchurian and Mongolian tribes. Earlier walls had proved ineffective in the north, so the Ming’s conceded the desert areas of Inner Mongolia and brought the new Great Wall closer to the capital city of Beijing (known then as Shuntian).
It was an expensive undertaking. Many lives were lost building the Great Wall. Some estimates reach over one million deaths of the slaves and prisoners of war that were forced to work on it. Most of their bodies were buried inside the wall for expediency, and the Wall became known as “the longest cemetery in the world.”
And then there was the cost to defend it. Every 180 to 275 meters (200-300 yards), there was a guard tower. Even today, there are still over 10,000 watchtowers and beacon towers left standing. It took hundreds of thousands of soldiers to man these towers and defend the gates, and many had to be located in very remote areas, where travel in and out was difficult and dangerous.
It was the pride of the Ming Dynasty, and rightly so, but for all the cost and all the effort and all the lives lost to the construction and defense of the Wall, it only took one man to make it irrelevant.
Wu SanGui was a border general in 1644 A.D. He was charged with defending the Shanhaiguan garrison at the Great Wall from the impending attack of the Manchurians and the Mongolians to the north. But because he was angry with the emperor, Wu invited 80,000 invading forces through the gate.
The Emperor’s forces were taken entirely by surprise and had to flee to Beijing with the Manchurians and Mongolians in hot pursuit. Eight days later, enemy forces arrived uncontested and claimed the capital city. Thus began the Qing Dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China.
Walls are important, but if you can’t trust your gatekeeper, they won’t be much protection.
We build our spiritual walls through daily spiritual disciplines, like Bible study, prayer, Scripture memorization, journaling and other good habits. A lot of time and effort goes into building these walls as protection against the Enemy, whose main goal is to breach our walls and get into our minds and hearts. But all that good work can be nullified if we don’t protect our gates (our eyes and our ears).
Through our gates come both good things and bad, and it’s the gatekeeper’s job to decide what to let through and what to keep out. Unfortunately for us, we have two gatekeepers, and one of them is not loyal to our spiritual agenda. There is a constant battle between your flesh gatekeeper and your spirit gatekeeper, and it occurs daily right inside your gates. The one who wins each battle decides which images and information to let past your gates into your mind and heart.
Paul describes this battle in his letter to the Galatians:
For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:17)
And he tells us how the battle is won for the spirit gatekeeper in his letter to the Romans:
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5)
What he’s saying is that we can never stop building our spiritual walls. Every day, we need to be living in accordance with the Spirit, and that is done by daily spiritual disciplines. We can’t build our walls up and then take a break. As soon as we stop working on them, they start to deteriorate. And the weaker our walls, the weaker our spirit gatekeeper. The weaker our spirit gatekeeper, the easier it is for our sinful nature (our flesh gatekeeper) to overcome our good intentions.
If you are struggling to keep your gates closed to the junk the Enemy is sending through, and you are desperate for a victory today, remember that God will always come to aid your weak spirit. Isaiah tells us that:
He will be a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. (Isaiah 28:6)
Pray for strength, and God will help you get those gates closed.
* For more articles about spiritual gates, check out these links: