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By David Bachelor, PhD
It has been a week of monumental news. Not news that was monumental, but rather news about monuments. The Arizona Republic has named the border wall a “monument” in its coverage of the post-election construction boom on the barrier. The New York Times calls the wall, “a symbol of his [President Trump] determination to…build a barrier that would long outlast him.” According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, some Webb County residents opposed to completion of the wall’s Laredo sector refer to the barrier as “Trump’s Wall.” In true bi-partisan spirit, these citizens are willing to change their moniker for the barrier to “Biden’s Wall” if the presumed President-elect does not carry out the promise he made on NPR, “There will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration.”
An anonymous monument in the Utah desert was also making headlines around the world. According to KWTX, a helicopter crew conducting a survey of big horn sheep in remote areas noted a metal pylon sticking out of the ground. The object was as tall as two crewmen. This fact was proven by the selfie (which accompanies the article) of one crewman standing on the other’s shoulders as they inspect the pillar. The crew found no identifying marks to indicate the purpose of the monument, its origin, or its maker. A few days after its discovery, the monument was back in the news because of its disappearance. There is as little known about who removed the monument as who made it.
Monument building is found throughout the Bible. From Pharaoh’s monuments in the book of Exodus, to Herod’s temple in the Gospels, the people of God understood the purpose of monuments. Their purpose was to preserve for posterity the builder’s name. The story that may have the most in common with the Utah obelisk is in 2 Samuel 18. The monument in question was built by King David’s son Absalom. It was Absalom who tried to start his own dynasty by supplanting his father on the throne of Israel. Before starting the rebellion that would cost him his life, Absalom tried to cement his legacy with a monolith. The Bible says, “While he was still living, Absalom took a rock and set it up for himself in the king’s valley. He said, ‘Since I have no son, this rock will keep the memory of my name alive.’ He gave his name to the rock, and it is still called Absalom’s Monument today” (2 Sam18:18).
It is possible that before this article is published Utah authorities will discover the identity of the anonymous monument builder. However, unless the pylon is re-inserted into its desert home, it will not matter what the obelisk was intended to commemorate or who created it. A much longer span of time will be needed to determine whether Trump (or Biden) will be like Absalom and have a permanent border monument to their name. A more permanent monument is promised to believers who endure through trials to their faith and who overcome the world. To them God promises, “To everyone who wins the victory, I will give some of the hidden food. I will also give each one a white stone with a new name written on it (Rev 2:17). Now that’s a monument!!