A Sign and Witness in
A characteristic of the Hebrew prophets is their flair for taking the political events and shortcomings of their own people of their own time as basis for a distant fore‑view of the events and failures of the "time of the end", the era of the close of this Age and the introduction of the Millennium. The prophet commences by denouncing the people of his own generation for their sins and predicts imminent Divine judgment, and then sweeps over the intervening centuries of human history to reveal the same things happening at the end of the Age, presenting the distant picture in terms of the things happening in his own day, and concludes by delineating the intervention of the Lord in his Kingdom taking action to put things right to overthrow the dominion of evil and establish everlasting righteousness.
Such a picture is afforded by the 19th chapter of Isaiah. An exposition of this chapter showed how the political situation existing between Israel and Egypt in his own day was a fore‑view in miniature of what is to happen at the end of the Age. The five cities speaking the language of Canaan, the edifice that is to be a sign and a witness, the promised highway connecting Assyria with Egypt, all were spiritualised to afford a picture of the final condition of the world in the day of Christ's reign over the nations, when the only language will be that of righteousness, the only altar‑offerings those made to the Lord, the only witness that to the reconciling power of the Gospel, and the only road open to men that "highway of holiness" which men must tread if they are eventually to "stand before God in Zion". This is a poetic picture based upon the political events of the time, woven into a vision of the future that shall be when the evil things that darken the beginning of the story are dissipated by the beneficent work of the "Sun of Righteousness."
But this does not exhaust the purport of Isa.19. There is a physical reality behind Isaiah's exalted language: which gave inspiration to his words. "In that day" he says "shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. And it shall be for a sign and...witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt" (vs.19‑20). That which gave the prophet inspiration for his twin theme of offering and witness, an altar and a memorial monument, actually existed there in the land as a single edifice, in a quite remarkable fashion at both the centre and the border. Isaiah must have known of it although he almost certainly never set eyes upon it—the building known today as the Great Pyramid.
In its physical existence that building is a sign and witness to the Divine Plan just so surely as Isaiah's poetic vision looked at Egypt in her then present degradation and her future elevation to the state of the sons of God. Its Descending Passage pictures the descent of mankind into sin, with its inevitable end, death. Its Ascending Passages picture the ascent of man by reason of the Gospel into those aspects of the eternal state which God is providing both for the Church and the world. In the scientific features built into its structure there is revealed the foreknowledge of God, and in its endurance through the ages—for it is the oldest building upon earth, possessing an age of nearly five thousand years—it betokens the preserving power of God. And in that latter vital factor there is enshrined a great truth.
Long ago two great buildings were erected by the sons of men. The erection of the first is described in the 11th chapter of Genesis. Today it is popularly known by the name of Tower of Babel. According to the ancient historians it was—in later years at least—some three hundred feet square at its base and six hundred feet high, the highest building ever erected until the 20th century. Constructed throughout of burnt brick, it was richly ornamented on its outside with carvings and bright colours. Although so huge though, there was a fundamental weakness in its structure, for through almost all the three thousand years that it stood, nearly all the successive monarchs of the land it adorned record labour and money spent on its repair and renovation. Today no vestige of E‑temenanki, the great Tower of Babylon, "the house of the foundation of heaven and earth", as they called it, remains, save a few yards of brick wall about four feet high. That tower stood as a concrete symbol of man's defiance of God and rejection of God; today there is nothing of it remaining.
The second, an even greater building erected several centuries later, is the Great Pyramid. The one was in Sumer, the other in Egypt, the two great civilisations of the ancient world. Of this second building the ancient Egyptians declared that its plans were revealed from heaven. Arabic writers of the Middle Ages said that it enshrines data on arithmetic, geometry, and astronomical facts, as well as a chronicle of time past and future. So far as facts regarding the three sciences are concerned modern scientific research has established beyond doubt the accuracy of the Arabs' observation. Whoever designed the physical features of the Pyramid was cognisant of, and embodied in it, the precise values of many geophysical and astronomical quantities some of which were not discovered by or known to man until the last two centuries. The very unit of measurement used in its construction has been shown to equal the one ten‑millionth part of the earth's radius, a more scientific unit than even the metre of the metric system. A notable body of men, scientists, astronomers and archaeologists of the 19th and 20th centuries, have certified the verity of this position without being able to suggest how early man could have had either the knowledge or ability to express such matters in stone. Some of these facts, such as the distance of the earth from the sun, were certainly known to the Sumerians of early times, but others, such as the true size of the earth, could not possibly have been known by them unless, as asserted by the ancients, the design came from heaven.
Such an idea is usually scoffed at in our modern sophisticated times but it is not so incredible as some think. It is significant that at just about the time of the Pyramid's erection, in a different part of the world, the kingships of the first political realms were, according to Sumerian tradition, "let down from heaven". There is increasing ground nowadays for concluding that in the early days just after the Flood and for several centuries thereafter there was a state of devotion to God with no competing pagan gods in human society which could well indicate a condition of communion between God and man which has no parallel today.
It would appear that Robert Menzies of Edinburgh in 1865 was the first to attach a Christian Messianic significance to the passages and chambers of the Great Pyramid and from his and other subsequent students' work a comprehensive system of symbolism has been developed which has the merit of corresponding in close detail with the Plan of salvation presented in the Scriptures. From this there has developed endeavours to foretell the precise dates of future prophesised events such as that of the Second Advent. The fact that some of these expectations have failed of fulfilment no more denies the authenticity of the Pyramid than have the failures of many similar attempts in the realm of Bible chronology in times past discredited the Bible. In both cases it only demonstrates that some of the conclusions drawn from available data were incorrectly applied.
So the "Bible in stone" remains, a concrete reality which cannot be explained away. The fitness of the spiritual symbolism cannot be denied; the accuracy of the embodied scientific data cannot be and is not disputed; no rational ground exists for deciding that men of that time had acquired such knowledge by their own efforts. The only logical conclusion is that the same All‑High One who gave Noah the instructions for building the Ark, and Moses the detailed plans for building the Tabernacle in the wilderness, did in between these two revelations give some person or persons unknown the intricate design for building this structure which has aptly been called "a miracle in stone".
The Apostle Peter tells us, referring to the truths of the Christian faith, which we have not been following "cleverly devised myths". (2 Pet.1:16 RSV) Here is the confirmation; those same truths, built into imperishable stone so long ago, remain to our day, in very fact a visible representation of the "Word of God, which lived and abideth for ever". (1 Pet.1:23)
For further enquiries on the subject of the Great Pyramid please contact Mr.F.Binns 102 Broad Street, Chesham, HP5 3ED, U.K.