The Lord, the Lord Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! “Let us eat and drink,” you say, “for tomorrow we die!” The Lord Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: “Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,” says the Lord, the Lord Almighty. This is what the Lord, the Lord Almighty, says: “Go, say to this steward, to Shebna the palace administrator: What are you doing here and who gave you permission to cut out a grave for yourself here, hewing your grave on the height and chiseling your resting place in the rock? “Beware, the Lord is about to take firm hold of you and hurl you away, you mighty man. He will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country. There you will die and there the chariots you were so proud of will become a disgrace to your master’s house. I will depose you from your office, and you will be ousted from your position. “In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the people of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a seat of honor for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots—all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars. “In that day,” declares the Lord Almighty, “the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.” The Lord has spoken. – Isaiah 22:12-25
Today’s passage is somewhat a continuation of the story from yesterday about the Valley of Vision – Jerusalem. In this passage God is calling on the people of Israel to mourn as He mourned for the loss of Jerusalem. The people are called on to “weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth”. What they actually do is celebrate and party in the midst of their hopelessness. There is “joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! “Let us eat and drink,” you say, “for tomorrow we die!”
I confess I had no idea that the quote “Let us eat and drink, “for tomorrow we die!” came from the bible. I always thought it was from Shakespeare or some other secular source. It reveals a level of desperation that is hard to comprehend. These people have not only given up on God, but they have given up on themselves. They do not think that anything they do will make any difference to the outcome of this siege. God does not appreciate their lack of faith. He essentially tells them that His patience has limits and at some point He will “take firm hold of you and hurl you away, you mighty man. He will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country”.
This imagery is quite vivid. I picture God taking these humans and shaping them back into the clay from which they were formed, dust to dust and ashes to ashes. I am not sure what God means by “large country”. Perhaps it is just another way of saying they will be scattered as a people far and wide throughout the earth. God seems to be describing disinheritance. The people of God no longer acknowledge God so He is no longer going to acknowledge them.
The passage then takes a more confusing turn when it describes “my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah”. Apparently Eliakim was a member of King Hezekiah’s household. Details of King Hezekiah’s rule are recounted in 2 kings. King Hezekiah died after giving the Babylonians a tour of His palace in Jerusalem. Perhaps this reference to his rule is a reminder of the wayward ways of the people of Jerusalem. Whoever this man Eliakim was he had much in common with another radical who would come later, Jesus.
I do not know whether this verse is a prophetic “reflection of Him“, but it does provide interesting insights into what a coming Messiah could look like: “I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a seat of honor for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots—all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.” If we take this as at least an accurate reflection of the coming Messiah then as a contemporary follower of the way of Jesus I consider myself to be included in this list of “offspring and offshoots”. I tend to think of myself as a “lesser vessel”, although I think God sees all of us as amazing containers for His Spirit.
The comparison between Eliakim and Jesus gets a little more murky and muddled toward the end of the passage when this “peg driven into the firm place will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down”. On one level this could be compared to the death of Jesus on the cross. His earthly ministry and mission was “sheared off” when he was crucified. Certainly His disciples felt as though they were “cut down” after His death. It was not until the resurrection that they realized that Jesus was still with them and would be always through the Holy Spirit that He placed into us “lesser vessels”.
Prayer: God thank You for loving us and sharing Your spirit with us lesser vessels.