In one of my books (embarrassing – I don’t remember which one) I used an example from the Old Testament to make a point about who we have been called to be in God’s Kingdom and what that represents. And as I was reading in Isaiah Sunday morning I was reminded once again about the position we hold and how we so often take it for granted… not a very wise thing to do!
Hezekiah was the king of Judah and his chief advisers were Shebna and Eliakim who was second in command (2 Kings 18:18). Shebna’s role was addressed as “steward” and his position was overseer of the entire house of Hezekiah; Mayor of the Palace. He owned nothing but managed the whole household and was directly accountable to the king.But it went beyond that as he had been given the responsibility of chief executive officer to manage all of the policies, people, and programs of the palace. Without going into great detail, Shebna let pride overwhelm him and he violated the trust of the king and the office to which he had been appointed. As a result he was demoted and his position as Mayor of the Palace was given to Eliakim. But most importantly he lost his greatest responsibility.
Isa 22:20-22 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: 21 And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. 22 And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
In his position Shebna had controlled access to the king. No one got in to see him unless Shebna opened the door. He held the key to the House of David, the same key that we have been given to hold in trust for Jesus.
As a steward owns nothing, so as a servant of the Lord we hold everything we have been given in trust; any power, money, position is a gift from God. But at the same time we are given the responsibility as CEO to manage everything to which we have been entrusted. And that means that we are held accountable to the master of our household to fulfill the obligations that go along with our position; both temporal and eternal.
We can’t let the power of our position or the allure of the world around us cause us to violate the trust that Jesus has placed in us. We can’t be like Shebna and use the position in His kingdom that we have been given to advance our own agenda. Shebna was obsessed with his own self-glory and he tried to preserve his place in history, but in so doing he betrayed the trust Hezekiah had placed in him. He was demoted to Secretary of State and Eliakim was promoted to Mayor of the Place… controlling access to the king. Shebna’s robe, the symbol representing the honor of the lofty position he held, was placed on Eliakim’s shoulders and his belt, the sign and seal of the authority he held, was tied around Eliakim’s waist. Yes, authority of the office was transferred to Eliakim, but that was not all… I will commit thy government into his hand.
The question for each of us to consider is how are we handling the authority and responsibility we have been given by Jesus as stewards over His house? How do we treat the key to the house of David that we have been given, how do we use it? For Eliakim that key put him in the line of royalty to inherit the spirit of the king, a position in which each of us who are a member of the bride of Christ now hold. We are just like Eliakim… until “that day” we are a peg fastened in a sure place (25). We need to ensure that we do not have our peg taken down a notch or two.
So let’s keep the lesson of Shebna in mind as we perform the duties and fulfill the obligations of the office of Mayor of the Palace that we have been given. Let each of us, as a chief steward, hear those wonderful words in that day when we look directly into Jesus’ eyes… Well done, good and faithful servant, you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.