Lil’s P’s cowboy boots slipped on the side of the rock, belying its composition of pure metal. We didn’t expect to befall a space treasure on our Namibia trip, but it happened to be on a not-too-distant detour on the route from Windhoek to Rundu. We followed signs from the highway and when we arrived, we were the only visitors at the beautifully landscaped and well-kept attraction. A small office offered locally-made handicrafts and historic information. Another family arrived during our visit, but the rock was plenty big for all to climb upon. How often does one get to climb a meteor? I imagine in several years, or if we return for a visit in a decade or two, it will be cordoned off with a ‘do not touch’ sign. But not yet!
In the shadow of the Otavi mountains on the edge of the Kalahari plain, surrounded by scrub brush and man-size anthills, the rock sits in a hole. Nearly a century ago, a farmer came up to this rock. According to history, his plough struck the boulder, which was mostly submersed below the soil. The plough clanked – metal on metal. It was no mere field rock. Scratching with his knife, he uncovered a sheen. He strenuously scraped off a sliver and took it to a geologist in town. The geologist confirmed it was a meteorite, the largest yet to be discovered on earth.
The site of the Hoba meteorite has had its fair share of vandals and scavengers. The 50 ton hunk of metal consisting of iron, nickel and cobalt could have been melted down long ago for commercial purposes; or divvied up and sent to the four corners to grace museums and science centers. However, Namibia was able to hold onto this wondrous treasure from outer space that landed on earth millennia ago.
Fifty tons. That’s about the size of a Mr. Bean Mini car (1977 Leyland Mini), but weighs as much 135 of them all piled on top of one another. Imagine the density of something that small weighing that much. Incredible. And it’s been in the same spot since it landed, too big to move. When David slew Goliath with a small stone, this hunk of metal was sitting right here. When Jesus walked the earth, still it rested here, immovable. It got me thinking. . .
If anyone in history desired an immovable stone, it was the chief priests and the Pharisees, under the authority of Pilate. This stone of cosmic, molten metal would have been perfect. These powerful leaders could have summoned servants to search far and wide for a stone to seal Jesus’ tomb, one that would ensure his body would never leave the grave. Perhaps if they had found the stone, Pilate might have surmised it was a gift from the gods, flung from space, ideal for concealing the corpse of One who claimed to be God.
But what they didn’t know, what the people that yelled ‘crucify him!’ didn’t know, what even the disciples didn’t know, was that no stone could contain Jesus’ body in the tomb. The same power melted iron and sent it hurtling to earth thousands of years ago, is the same power that gave sight to the blind and raised the dead. This God could not be contained by a stone made by His own hand. Indeed, death itself could not contain the perfect Son of God.
Next time you find yourself driving from Windhoek to Kavango, take the detour near Grootfontein to the meteor and give this tourist attraction its due attention. And remember, not even this stone. . .
“And Joseph took the body [of Jesus] and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. Next day, that is after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. . .
And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”. . .
And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone. . .
And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. . .”
From Matthew 27:59-66, Mark 16:3, Luke 24:2-6