Sostratos the Cnidian built this world-famous lighthouse in 297 B.C., located on the coast of the island of Pharos (Negev, The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land, Rev., 1986: 27). It made the Greek poet Sopater’s list of the original seven wonders of the world. Examined with the other six, this lighthouse seems to have been the only wonder which also served a practical purpose. It would have towered nearly 400 feet above the sea, about forty stories tall. What an imposing figure it would have been, and some, though these claims are mildly disputed, said its light could be seen from as far as 100 miles away on the sea. Its architecture and inscription were rooted in Greek mythology, dedicated to Poseidon and various protectors among the gods. Eventually, it suffered the structural damage associated with aging. Two earthquakes in the fourteenth century damaged it and made it unsafe to explore. It was finally torn down by a sultan in the fifteenth century, who used stones from its ruins for part of the wall of an Egyptian fort that remains to this day. Diving expeditions in the last ten to fifteen years have discovered ruins in the sea that almost certainly include remnants of this famous lighthouse (see also http://www.touregypt.net, http://www.new7wonders.com).
Though it was impressive for a time, this lighthouse suffered the fate inevitable for material things on this earth. The once imposing figure of this lighthouse was eventually eclipsed by time, war, and natural events. This beacon lives now only in the ancient writings that recall it.
There have been many ideas and philosophies of men that have been erected throughout human history. Each of them have purported to point the way of man toward his purpose. Solomon spoke of some of them in Ecclesiastes: wealth, pleasure, education, occupation, etc. So many have lived and died following a guiding light that ultimately could not stand the test of time.
Jesus mentions another light–Himself! He calls Himself the light of the world (John 8:12). The apostle John wrote to testify of this light (John 1:4-5). In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus illuminates the way for His disciples and says that His followers would reflect His light and be light to the world (Matt. 5:14ff). This is the light for all people, places, and times. Only it will endure and stand the ultimate test in eternity. It will not be destroyed, ravaged by weather or catastrophe, or successfully overtaken by men. Let us be thankful that we have been given this timeless, illuminating light to show us the way from earth to heaven.