Ecclesiastes and the Pyramids
I just wanted to share a thought building on part of Sunday’s theme. In particular, Ecclesiastes 1:9-11, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.”
The Pyramids of Giza, and throughout Egypt, were built as a lasting memorial and reminder for the person buried inside. ‘This individual’ they screamed ‘was someone important and rich enough to warrant such a grand resting place. Here lies a memorial to their life!!!’ So the pyramids stood for centuries upon centuries. Two millennia ago they were considered to be one of seven great wonders of the world [the other six wonders have all but disappeared from the history books]. Even still the pyramids inspire awe. Napoleon once stood at the base of the Great Pyramid. He calculated how much stone was stacked before him while his generals climbed to the top of the colossus. When they returned he announced that there was enough stone to construct a wall 3 meters high and 30cm thick around the Empire of France.
The pyramids weren’t built simply for the fun of building them. They were meant to be a lasting reminder to the person buried below and the might of the Egyptian accomplishments. But such memories have long since disappeared. Sure, the pyramids remain, but how they were built and by whom remains a speculative mystery; and until archaeologists began to open and explore, the people buried within had long since been forgotten. Even the language that extolled the stories of the remaining corpses had to be re-learned. Despite their grandeur, their purpose was failed.
The pyramids are a reminder of Solomon’s observation – given enough time, the present is forgotten and the past repeats itself! With a fateful reversal of intention the pyramids are a memorial to the vanity of life!
QUESTION: What does it feel like to recognise that our lives and accomplishments will one day fade from memory?