Psalm 39:6 (NKJV)
6 Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them.
The scene appeared to be composed from irony. The shadow of the intact, imposing and virtually untouched tower fell across the ruins of what was left of its identical mate. "This is what you once were... look at you now!" seemed to be the whisper of the breeze. Where once you stood mighty, the safe haven of a deposed queen, now you cannot even prevent the field rats from foraging in your cellars. The shadow of greatness only highlighted the humiliation.
Cromwell's army did this, intentionally destroying only this section of the castle so that its military value was denied, knowing that it would be too costly to ever rebuild, and so the ruins are a testimony to the ultimate futility of fallen man's aspirations to lasting greatness.
Surely man does "busy himself in vain" as the Psalmist declares. The most he can reasonably expect is to pass as a shadow across his assigned space in time and leave behind some monument to his existence, which, in time, will crumble away. No matter how self-important we deem ourselves to be, no matter how wise and far seeing and forceful our character, time will humble us. No matter how laudable our achievements, or the greatness of our fame, the mouthed praise of our contemporaries will be lost in obscurity... like this castle, lonely in its surroundings, sought out only by those who give it passing notice.
Each of us live in the shadow of greatness and our lives, in more ways than we like to admit, are just crumbling rock and mortar that highlight our futile ambitions.
Adam was great... and he fell.... and all of mankind, like these remaining walls, can do little more that stand in the shadow of what he was. This is man's natural fallen condition.
But there was, and is, another Adam and His greatness far exceeded and exceeds that of our first parent. Though we exist in this fallen world bearing the shame of Adam's shadow, yet the second Adam came to bring light... and light chases away shadows. Like Nehemiah, the Lord Jesus Christ came to rebuild the walls of His city Jerusalem, His Church, and is doing so. Where man's fallen condition negates any hope of greatness, of stability, of lasting significance, because of Adam's shadow, Jesus came to alter that entire image. Another, greater, city or castle is being built. The stones are being gathered together and the mortar that seals them in place will last for eternity. No Cromwell, no pride of man, no anger of Satan can overcome these walls. There will be no more "shadows" of greatness only the living Presence of Light itself.
It is easy to look upon the world about us and be overcome by weeping. As the aged men wept at the building of the second temple because it was but a shadow of Solomon's glory, so we weep as inept, blundering leaders and vain philosophies bring ruin on what was to be a beacon of light to the weary and downtrodden of the world. But that is only part of the story and the shadow should remind us... that shadows only exist when the light is being obstructed. Here is where we regain our hope, renew our confidence and get on with God's work of rebuilding the walls. What God is doing will not pass, nor crumble, nor fail.
The shadow on the wall reminds us that it is easy be busy in vain and that our works will be tried, as in a furnace, and only those things of eternal value will remain. There is where our energies and our hopes are to be directed.