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Only One Government Will Stand the Test of Time

The PBS series Civilizationssurveys the role art has played in forging humanity. Art can tell us much about where a culture has been and where it is going. Near the end of episode 1, viewers are taken to the Mayan city of Calakmul in Mexico. The city was once one of the most influential metropolitan areas in a vast empire, known as the Kingdom of the Snake. Entombed beneath a canopy of trees rests the remains of more than 6,500 buildings. The tallest is a massive ornately decorated temple whose steps climb to 180 feet (the height of a 15-story building).

Standing at the foot of a massive ziggurat, abandoned now for more than 1,000 years, an unnamed archeologist explains the cultural rationale for such ornate, expansive building:

Ultimately, all civilizations want exactly what they can’t have; the conquest of time. So they build bigger, and higher, and grander, as if they could build their way out of mortality. It never works. There always comes a moment when the most populous of cities with their markets and temples and palaces and funeral tombs are simply abandoned. And that most indefatigable leveler of all, mother nature, closes in, covering the place with desert sand or strangling it with vegetation. And then civilization dies the death of deaths, invisibility.

All nations come to an end. But there is a government which will stand the test of time. Isaiah writes, “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. . . The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this” (Isa. 9:7).

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