Part 1: The Scope of Biblical Stewardship
Part 2: Stewards in Biblical History
Part 4: Stewards of the Mysteries of God
In Part 2 of this series I suggested that the Old Testament talks less about the theology of stewardship than the New Testament does. This does not mean the Old Testament cannot help us develop that theology, however. In fact, not only do the Old Testament stories provide valuable background information, as shown in the last article, but a key New Testament reference to stewardship only becomes visible when seen as a hyperlink to the Hebrew Bible.
Despite its obscurity—I don’t remember ever hearing a sermon on Shebna and Eliakim—Isaiah 22 provides an important reference point for the topic of biblical stewardship. Recall from last time that this passage describes how “this steward, … Shebna, who is over the household” (verse 15) has been unfaithful, so God through Isaiah prophesies his destruction and appoints Eliakim to take his place. The rest of the passage details how God will honor Eliakim:
In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your sash on him, and will commit your authority to his hand. And he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father's house. And they will hang on him the whole honor of his father's house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons. In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way, and it will be cut down and fall, and the load that was on it will be cut off, for the LORD has spoken.
God describes Eliakim’s position as royal steward in almost dynastic terms. While the end of the passage ominously hints that Eliakim’s elevation will not last (or it may refer back to Shebna, an interpretation some commentators take but that seems strained to me), for the time being, at least, he is destined for a tremendous level of honor and responsibility.
Not only that, but his role foreshadows that of Christ.