Thursday, January 12, 2017
This is what the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, said to me: “Confront Shebna, the palace administrator, and give him this message:
“Who do you think you are, and what are you doing here, building a beautiful tomb for yourself—a monument high up in the rock? For the Lord is about to hurl you away, mighty man. He is going to grab you, crumple you into a ball, and toss you away into a distant, barren land. There you will die, and your glorious chariots will be broken and useless. You are a disgrace to your master! “Yes, I will drive you out of office,” says the Lord. “I will pull you down from your high position. And then I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah to replace you. I will dress him in your royal robes and will give him your title and your authority. And he will be a father to the people of Jerusalem and Judah. I will give him the key to the house of David—the highest position in the royal court. When he opens doors, no one will be able to close them; when he closes doors, no one will be able to open them. He will bring honor to his family name, for I will drive him firmly in place like a nail in the wall. They will give him great responsibility, and he will bring honor to even the lowliest members of his family.” But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies also says: “The time will come when I will pull out the nail that seemed so firm. It will come out and fall to the ground. Everything it supports will fall with it. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Over the last number of months we’ve heard much about the outgoing U.S. President’s desire to protect his legacy. By that we understand he wants to make certain his programs, legislations and rulings are not undone by the following administration.
Well…legacy is something you leave behind, and when you’re gone the legacy you were shooting-for is largely going to be either accepted or changed or trashed by what people perceive you did while you were trying to create a monument to yourself.
All that can be said about that process is: Good luck with that!
Just ask Shebna or Eliakim!
Shebna was probably the prefect in Jerusalem, second in power only to the king, something like Secretary of State. History calls him an unprincipled ruler.[ii]
Isaiah was pushed by God to deliver a message to this powerful official who was digging his own grave by using his office to create a monument to his pride. That message was his legacy would consist of being disgraced and replaced. God would pull him out of his power and put Eliakim in his stead, nailed down like a board with a 9” spike. But…God knew Eliakim’s faithfulness would waver, and God would eventually remove Shebna’s replacement too. Being the person in charge is about as secure as Jell-o nailed to a wall!
This time in which we find ourselves, inbetween President Obama’s last address to the nation as our highest official, and the inauguration of President-elect Trump to that chair…well, it’s either the calm before the storm, or the storm before the calm. In short, it’s just plain unsettling. The outgoing leader is nailing down planks on his legacy to preserve what’s named after him. The incoming leader is threatening to undo most all of it and create something “great” again that can put his own name on more buildings.
A word of caution to both, as well as a word of comfort to those biting their nails:
Whatever has been nailed-down can be pulled-up! Just ask Shebna or Eliakim!
Whichever side you brought to the table in our political fracas of the past year, this would be a good time to take a deep breath and remember Who is really in charge.
[ii] Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1999, Parsons Technology, Inc