By Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr
THE OFFICIAL OVER THE HOUSE
In Isaiah 22, we read an intriguing prophecy where God takes an unusual interest in not the king but an official of the royal house of Judah. The official is said to have “the key of the house of David,” and he opens and no one shuts, and he shuts and no one opens.
Who was this royal official? What was his official title, and what did his job description entail?
The prophecy reads:
“Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts: ‘Go, proceed to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the [royal] house, and say: “What have you here, and whom have you here, that you have hewn a sepulcher here, as he who hews for himself a sepulcher on high, who carves a tomb for himself in a rock?
“Indeed, the LORD will throw you away violently, O mighty man, and will seize you.
“He will surely turn violently and toss you like a ball into a large country; there you shall die, and there your glorious chariots shall be the shame of your mater’s house.
“So I will drive you out of your office, and from your position he will pull you down.
“Then it shall be in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah;
“I will clothe him with your robe and strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.
“The Key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut and no one shall open.
“I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, and he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.
“They will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers.
‘“In that day, says the LORD of hosts; ‘the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the LORD has spoken”’ (Isa. 22:15-25 NKJV).
The prophecy is bigger than itself (transcendent); it betrays a greater power and purpose at work beyond human ability. Is it any wonder that a day will come when the peg fastened in the secure place will be removed and cut down and fall?
The official over the house was the Minister of the Palace (NIV “the palace administrator”). He “appears to have held a position second only to that of the king. Solomon had such an officer (1Kings 4:6) and kings of both Israel (1 Kings 16:9; 2 Kings 10:5) and Judah (2 Kings 18:18) did also ……. Shebna held this office early in Hezekiah’s reign (Isaiah 22:15-25) but was replaced by Eliakim, who led the three-man delegation that sought to come to terms with Sennacherib when the Assyrian invaded the land (2kings 18:18ff). The Minister of the Palace wore a distinctive robe and belt (Isa. 22:21), and he had the “Key of the house of David” so he could open and shut the gates (Isa. 22:22). We gather this meant that he could open and close the gates of the king’s house and so control the official court day and appointments on the king’s calender” (Howard F. Vos Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs pp 277-278).
The Minister of the Palace was no mean royal official. He functioned much like the modern Chief of Staff to a President. As he controlled the royal calendar of events and court schedules, it lay in his power to grant or deny a person access to the king. His was an extremely powerful office!
But in so far as he opens and no one is able to shut, and he shuts and no one is able to open, the powers ascribed to the Minister of the Palace seem to transcend him. The description befits one who has All POWER!
“THE GOVERNMENT SHALL BE UPON HIS SHOULDER”
Eliakim who replaced the conceited Shebna as the Minister of the Palace was still not equal to the task. So “the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the LORD has spoken”.
The prophecy hints at an ultimate Minister of the Palace to come. He is a Son, the Prince and the Everlasting Father:
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
“Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
The Son of David who is from everlasting (Micah 5:2, Luke 1:31-33) has the government on His shoulder. He opens and no one shuts; He shuts and no one opens. He assured the church in Philadelphia:
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: these things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth:
“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied My name.
“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” (Rev. 3:7-9).
Christ as God’s Minister of the heavenly Palace has all things and all power delivered to Him (Matt. 11:27, 28:18; Heb. 1:2). That’s why He has promised, “If ye shall ask any thing in MY NAME I will do it” (John14:14).
The key to God’s treasure house is in the hands of Jesus. Regarding Cyrus, who was chosen and anointed to overthrow Babylon, the then world superpower, the Lord of all power Who opens and no one shuts declared through the prophet Isaiah:
“Thus saith the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates [of Babylon]; and the gates shall not be shut;
“I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I the LORD, which called thee by thy name, am the God of Israel” (Isaiah 45:1-3).
Truly, it’s in Christ that all our blessings and riches are found (Eph. 1:3, 1 Cor. 3:21; Mark 10:29-30). And when He opens the door of blessing no power – satanic or human – can shut it!
THE REJECTED STONE IS THE CORNERSTONE
It’s a sad irony “that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
By the same token, the builders (‘people who count’; the leaders), have rejected Christ THE INDISPENSABLE as though they could do without Him, and they have been broken – all their plans a failure (Ps. 118:22; Luke 20:17-18; Jer. 8:9).
The stone “the builders disallowed is made the head of the corner” because He has been chosen by God, the true Builder. To those who believe He is precious, but to the disobedient, a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence (1 Pet 2:6-8; Ps. 127:1). The rejected Stone insists, “Without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
With Christ as the cornerstone of our lives, we shall never fall (Matt. 7:24-25; Eph. 2:20). He will open and no man shuts!
THE KEY OF DAVID IN THE HANDS OF THE ETERNAL KING
There is only one Kingdom, one Royal house and one King as far as God is concerned: David to whom God has sworn by His holiness “that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established for ever as the moon; and as a faithful witness in heaven” (Ps. 89:35-37).
One the day of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost fell on the church, the Apostle Peter pointed out to his audience that God has made Jesus, the son of David, “both Lord and Christ [Messiah]” (Acts 2:29-36).
‘But if David in spirit called the Messiah ‘Lord’ how is He then his son?’ Jesus asked a group of Pharisees who were unable to answer him (Matt. 22:41-46).
In this instance, the son is greater than the ‘father’, for He is “higher than the kings of the earth” (Ps. 89:27). People didn’t pester him, “Son of David have mercy on us” for nothing (Matt. 9:27, 15:22; Mark 10:46-52). He restored the sight of the blind and freed others from demonic oppression because He holds the key to the Divine Powerhouse! The invincible key that opens and no one shuts!
So whatever your problem is, “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed” (Rev. 5:5).
In His presence is fulness of joy; at His right hand “there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).