Thursday, August 27, 2009

Things Temporal

Will it last? That's what I've been asking of my surroundings the last few days.

A few days ago, English teacher Mr. Loving came into my room and looked at my poster from the First Emperor exhibit at Atlanta's High Museum of Art and asked if I saw the show? We talked about how cool it was that Qin Shihuangdi's entire tomb and the Terra Cotta army laid buried and forgotten for over 2200 years.

It was not until 1974, while digging a well, that some farmers stumbled upon the remains of the first and perhaps greatest emperor of China. The legacy of one of the richest men (and most brutal tyrants) in history laid forgotten for millinea. Except for the Great Wall, which was begun during his reign, his army of clay and opulent tomb were little more that myth and lore.

Coach Loving, who I call Dr. Loving because he's one of the most intelligent people I know, has been to China several time and actually met one of the farmers that discovered the artifacts. We both marveled at how this king, who is now believed to have amassed wealth comparable or surpassing to the Egyptian pharaohs and Roman Caesars, became a mere afterthought. Everything he built, but for an accident, was forgotten.

Babylon was the greatest city of it's time. No place on earth could compare to Babylon's wealth, prestige and might. Babylon was New York, London and Tokyo rolled into one mighty city ruled by great kings such as Sargon, Hammurabi and Nebuchnezzar. When the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah prophesized that Babylon would stumble and fall and not be raised up (Jeremiah 50), the people of the time mocked him in the same way that we would consider crazy a man standing in Times Square predicting that New York would disappear off the map.

Like Qin's treasures, Babylon became buried by dust and time. The city that boasted the Ishtar Gate and the Hanging Gardens was reduced to legend and tales. Even the site of the great city of Nebuchanezzar and where the Old Testament book of Daniel was set was unknown for centuries. How did such a great city, the center of Chaldean and later Persian culture and the site of Alexander the Great's death, just vanish? It was not until the late 19th century that archaeologists located the ruins of mighty Babylon buried in the sands of modern Iraq.

Qin and Babylon were incomparable in their time. And they were both lost or forgotten. What are the great things of our time? Which of those will last and endure?

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
- II Corinthians 4:18


Chris Knight said...

In 1799, during his campaign in Egypt and Syria, Napoleon Bonaparte and his army camped near a place called Tell Kuyunjik. In the local tongue it means "Mound of Many Sheep". Which described just what it was: a place where nomadic shepherds came to graze their flocks.

Napoleon had no way of knowing that he was camping in the middle of what used to be Nineveh.

heanguy said...

Thanks Chris. Nice post.