Bro. Richard Davis
Editor of The Remnant
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For most of my life, I lived in northern Ohio, in the Akron/Cleveland area. When I got married, my wife and I would travel south to mid-Ohio near Columbus. Specifically, we traveled to Logan County to visit her family, and it was there that I first noticed the pillars.
These strange pillars are octagonal and around five feet tall and stand along the roads and in the fields. They are concrete with (probably) rebar reinforcement and occasionally have angled supports. I was intrigued, as I had never seen these pillars before. What are they and what do they do? I began to ask around. Many people said they were property markers, placed by surveyors to indicate ownership borders. It made sense, except that occasionally I would see two that were very close together. Some said they were corner posts for fencing, and still, others said they were simply decorative. It was a mystery. Google wasn’t much help, and several years passed before I fully understood what the pillars of Logan County are.
Pillars appear in several scriptures in the Bible. In Exodus 13:21-22 we read, “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” In the Old Testament during the exodus from Egypt, pillars showed the way. Without the pillars, the Israelites would have been lost. In the New Testament we read, 1 Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
We see pillars mentioned in key scriptures, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of what a pillar is. Webster defined a pillar as, “A supporter; that which sustains or upholds; that on which some superstructure rests. A monument raised to commemorate any person or remarkable transaction.”1 In modern times we use the word to describe a person who is reliable and essential; someone you can count on: “She was a pillar in the community.”
While writing for The Remnant, I’ve found that mundane things around us can teach valuable spiritual lessons. God created the heavens and the Earth, and so often we see them reflecting God. When we contemplate the divine, ordinary can become extraordinary. I am amazed at the wisdom we can find when we compare something as simple as a concrete pillar to the Word of God. The pillars mentioned in this article have helped me find my place in God’s plan and kept me from going astray as well. Jesus often taught in parables; words became swords, and the planting of seeds taught about the condition of souls. I hope the comparison is not too far-fetched, and a simple illustration can be helpful.
We read in Galatians 2:9, “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship…” When Paul looked upon James, Cephas, and John, they appeared to be pillars, but of course, not in the literal sense: They were spiritual pillars. They were strong in the Kingdom and by referencing Webster’s definition, we can say that they sustained and upheld the truth; they supported a superstructure. That structure is God’s Church. They were holy men, reliable and essential. James, Cephas, and John were known to be very eminent and acknowledged as chief men among the apostles. Among the Jews, persons of great eminence and importance are represented as pillars and foundations of the world. According to the Yalqut Ruebeni, Abraham is said to be, “the pillar of the universe; for by him to this day are the earth and heavens supported.”2 Johann Schoettgen remarks in his commentary on the Talmud, “These pillars must be distinguished from the foundation. The foundation of the Church is Jesus Christ alone; the pillars are the more eminent teachers, which, without the foundation, are of no value.”3 We see that Christian pillars are very important to the church, but without the truth of Jesus Christ, they have nothing to support.
It occurred to me while writing that some may object. One might say, “The Church itself is the pillar and ground of the truth. It is eternal and everlasting, and does not need people to hold it up!” While it is true that the Church is divine, and therefore everlasting, it’s important to know that the “Church” is made up of people. Without delving too deep, we find that throughout time, God has used people to fulfill His plans. Moses, Aaron, and Noah are great examples. Another is in Acts 9:6, where God instructs Saul to go and take instruction from Ananias. Human beings, in all of their frailty and feebleness, have always been part of God’s undertakings, just as you are part of His plan.
All those years ago while visiting Logan County, I would see the pillars; concrete pillars standing in a field, but I also saw the pillars in God’s Kingdom. Like the concrete pillars, I didn’t know what these pillars stood for. They were mysterious and strange. I was intrigued. I had never seen these pillars before. Who are they and what do they do? I began to ask around. These pillars shunned all sin. These pillars lived holy lives. They had standards of modesty and behavior. The pillars of Logan County stood for the truth. They didn’t move. You could always expect to see them in the same places, and there are some places where you won’t see them. To the unfamiliar, their purpose may seem unknown, but they don’t stand groundless, and they aren’t without a cause. Men and women dedicated to the truth, stand in the way, ready for any passerby to inquire.
It might seem reasonable to say, “Dig em’ up! Tear em’ down! People don’t need them anymore. The world has changed. What use are they anyhow?” As the world moves on, the destruction of the past is commonplace. The warm glow of technology sings a lullaby of forgetfulness. Things from the past seem worn and outdated, and religious relics feel like a Nokia with no charge. But, some things should not be forgotten. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 22:28, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” It is easy to become lost traveling along the road of life. Landmarks guide and instruct us. They show us the way. The most well-worn path is usually the correct one. If we strike out to create our own path and go our own way, we should not be surprised to find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. Jeremiah 6:16, “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls…” Adam Clarke tells us, “The soul needs rest; it can only find this by walking in the good way. The good way is that which has been trodden by the saints from the beginning: it is the old way, the way of faith and holiness. Believe, love, obey; be holy, and be happy. This is the way; let us inquire for it, and walk in it.”4
I live in Logan County now and see the pillars on a regular basis. With much digging, I’ve come to the conclusion that the literal pillars of Logan County were once corner posts for fences. The pillars that are close together served as driveway entrances to fields and pastures. Since fences are often installed on property lines, they serve both purposes. The spiritual lesson extends to this final realization, which is that lines exist for a reason, and there are some that we just shouldn’t cross. In our spiritual lives, it helps to know where the boundaries are and to have an unmoving pillar to show the way. I have also learned along the way that this is not an original thought. Preachers in God’s Kingdom have presented this thought before, and not just once. The plan for our lives is still in the hands of God, and the old paths still lead home.
In closing, I would like to ask every reader a question. Where do you stand? Can people rely on you to be unmoving regardless of rain or sun? Are you a pillar in your spiritual community? Do people know what to expect, and can they find you in the same place week after week? If not, look for a pillar – seek out one who stands unmoving for God. Learn from them. Read your Bible, pray every day, and soon you will be a pillar, too. Psalm 62:6, “He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.” †
- Noah Webster, “American Dictionary of the English Language”, 1828
- Reuben Kohen, “Yalqut Reubeni”, 1660
- Johann Schoettgen, “Horae Ebraicae et Talmuicae in Universum Novum Testamentum”, 1733
- Adam Clarke, “Bible Commentary”, 1817