Monuments of stone

“It is proposed that the contemplated monument shall be like him in whose honor it is constructed, unparalleled in the world, and commensurate with gratitude, liberality, and patriotism of the people by whom it is to be erected.”

These words were proclaimed by the Washington National Monument Society, on September 23, 1835. This patriotic group’s purpose was to honor George Washington, the first president of the United States of America. It was founded by Chief Justice John Marshall and President James Madison.

The first thing they did was to secure Robert Mills as the chief architect for the project. The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848; however, the work did not continue, for it was delayed by political quarreling and the lack of funds. The work resumed in 1858, but again the construction was halted in 1861 during the American Civil War.

After the war, Lt. Col. Thomas Casey resumed the project in 1876, and he redesigned the monument to resemble an Egyptian obelisk. With the War Department now in charge of the monument, the building proceeded quickly.

On December 6th, 1884, the 3,300 lb. capstone was put into place, thus completing the project. The Washington Monument was the most impressive and tallest building in the world.

The Washington Monument is no longer the tallest building in the world, but the white marble and granite memorial is still very impressive. Other groups have also used stone to impress and to remember the past.

Any school-age child can tell you about the great Aztec or Egyptian monuments, but can they tell you about one small Israelite stone monument that was erected on the west side of the Jordan River?

This monument was constructed out of twelve stones to mark the spot where God allowed the children of Israel to enter into the land of promise (Joshua 4:1-24). This monument was ordained by God as a reminder of his power.

This was not the first divine memorial, nor would it be the last. When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, he told them to remember the day of departure by eating a meal. The meal was called Passover (Exodus 12:1-30), and it was the same meal that Jesus was celebrating on the night that he was betrayed by Judas.

As Jesus ate this last Passover meal with his disciples, he established a new memorial meal (Luke 22:1-22). He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and ask them to eat it, explaining to them that, in doing so, they would remember him when he was gone. Likewise, he took a cup of wine and told them to drink it, for it represented his new covenant.

This is the same meal that faithful Christians share each week. In doing so, Jesus is remembered as both the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-22) and capstone (1 Peter 2:4-10) of this memorial feast. Will you not partake of this living memorial? In doing so, you proclaim that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God? Christian, are you up for the task?

“Here I raise my *Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.” Robert Robinson
*Ebenezer = stone of help

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