The Valley of Vision prophecy
A Burden against Jerusalem
This “Valley of Vision” Prophecy is a unique prophecy passage which many Bible students probably overlook. The prophecy passages, that generally gather a lot of attention usually involve earthquakes, darkening of the sun or moon, great armies descending upon Israel, or an evil leader controlling the world of men.
This passage has none of that. But it is still a great passage for us to consider.
Jerusalem is the Valley of Vision
Isaiah announces the burden against the “valley of vision.” The valley is the city of Jerusalem. For those familiar with the geography of the region, this might seem an odd description of Jerusalem. The city is on a hill not in a valley. The prophet, calling it a valley, is speaking prophetically about the coming judgments by the ‘mountains’ of surrounding enemies that will converge on it, sweep through it, and leave it in ruin. When heavy rains pour down mountain peaks and into valleys, the resulting deluge in the valleys below leaves ruin and chaos.
This ruin and chaos for the city of Jerusalem is the future the prophet is predicting.
The prophet grieves over Jerusalem in his Valley of Vision prophecy
The burden against the Valley of Vision. What ails you now, that you have all gone up to the housetops, you who are full of noise, a tumultuous city, a joyous city? Your slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle. All your rulers have fled together; they are captured by the archers. All who are found in you are bound together; they have fled from afar. Therefore I said, “Look away from me, I will weep bitterly; do not labor to comfort me because of the plundering of the daughter of my people.”
The burden against the Valley of Vision:
Jerusalem is a city set on a hill in the middle of three valleys. The city does look down upon some surrounding areas but it sits lower than a large mountainous region to the east. Between the Jerusalem mount and the taller mountains to the east, a long deep valley runs south and ends at the Dead Sea region.
Here God met the prophets
The prophet likens the city to a valley of vision because it was here that God met the kings and prophets of Israel. And it was here that the temple of God was built and the vision of a glorious future was seen by the prophets of God. But sadly, when Isaiah uses this term it’s more satirical than fact. In his day, Isaiah realized the valley of vision, Jerusalem, would soon be destroyed. The glorious visions would have to wait while judgment came first.
What ails you now, that you have all gone up to the housetops:
Homes at that time commonly had flat roofs which the people used as additional living space. In the vision, the prophet sees people escaping to their rooftops because of what they saw coming. From those rooftops, they could see approaching enemies, use defensive tactics, or just hide and delay capture.
Your slain men are not slain with the sword:
When Babylon conquered Jerusalem, many of the men and soldiers of Judah did not die in battle. It was the siege around the city that took the lives of many while other escaped in retreat.
I will weep bitterly; do not labor to comfort me:
The prophet wept when the Lord showed him the vision. He saw the moral decay in his day and understood it would get progressively worse. God would have no choice but to judge the rebellious people. They set a poor example for how God’s people should live. Don’t try to comfort me, Isaiah told others. He gave all he had to the message but only a few would listen. It’s a truth that has played out in similar fashion over the centuries.
In the Valley of Vision, you will find no deliverance.
For it is a day of trouble and treading down and perplexity By the Lord GOD of hosts In the Valley of Vision; breaking down the walls and of crying to the mountain. Elam bore the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield. It shall come to pass that your choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.
For it is a day of trouble:
Isaiah saw an army with quivers full of arrows riding in chariots. With swift and deadly striking ability, the enemy caused panic in the cities. From their housetop views, the residents of Jerusalem, some with advance notice, ran in fear. The chariots down upon Jerusalem in the valley of vision. Those who could run did, those who couldn’t remained in the city and died or were taken captive.
Elam bore the quiver:
“Because Elam, Babylon’s neighbor to the east, had strongly supported the Babylonians and the Chaldeans in the struggle against Assyria, the Elamites were probably allies of the Babylonians.” Wolf
The people of Jerusalem prepare their “Valley of Vision” for the coming siege.
He removed the protection of Judah. You looked in that day to the armor of the House of the Forest; you also saw the damage to the city of David, that it was great; and you gathered together the waters of the lower pool. You numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses you broke down to fortify the wall. You also made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool.
But you did not look to its Maker,
nor did you have respect for Him who fashioned it long ago. And in that day the Lord GOD of hosts called for weeping and for mourning, for baldness and for girding with sackcloth. But instead, joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating meat and drinking wine: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Then it was revealed in my hearing by the LORD of hosts, “Surely for this iniquity, there will be no atonement for you, even to your death,” says the Lord GOD of hosts.
You gathered together the waters of the lower pool … to fortify the wall:
The citizens of the city took steps to prolong their lives. Water sources were rerouted to protect them from the enemy. Damaged areas around the City of David, which had fallen into disrepair were hurriedly fixed. Houses around the perimeter of the city were evaluated for their worth. Many were demolished and the materials from those homes were used to strengthen weak spots in the city walls. They prepared as best and as quickly as they could.
But would it matter?
The prophet noted something ominous that made their efforts worthless. He removed the protection of Judah. The Lord was their protection, but he would no longer be their protector. They had fatal flaws that God would not overlook. The prophet saw it in his vision But you did not look to its Maker, nor did you have respect for Him who fashioned it long ago.
They had forsaken their God the One who created the very water sources they trusted in. They trusted in their own skills to divert the water sources but neglected the source of Living Water.
In that day the Lord GOD of hosts called for weeping and mourning:
The people should have mourned their broken city walls which reflected their broken spiritual condition. Instead of mourning, many chose a different path. Instead of turning in humility toward the LORD, they expressed confidence in their preparations and took on a fatalistic outlook toward the future by crying, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
The point of no return
For this iniquity, there will be no atonement for you”
Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts: “Go, proceed to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the house, and say: ‘What have you here, and whom have you here, that you have hewn a sepulcher here, as he who hews 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 surely 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 master’s house. So I will drive you out of your office, and from your position, he will pull you down.'”
Shebna, who is over the house:
In this passage, we read about a man who will take the brunt of the blame for this collapse of leadership. Shebna was a servant of King Hezekiah. He was a steward … over the house and also a record keeper or scribe (2 Kings 18:18, Isaiah 37:2). These were positions that required integrity and personal responsibility. Shebna, who apparently had neither was one of King Hezekiah’s chief assistants and thus too close to the top of the reins of power. Poor leadership at the top always trickles down. Hezekiah was a good king, but he put his trust in an untrustworthy assistant.
As he who hews himself a sepulcher on high:
As many historical leaders have done, Shebna set out to build himself a lasting memorial. When he died he wanted his memory to live on for centuries. He built himself a great tomb. Like the Pharaohs of old, this vain leader wanted people to remember him. Shebna’s vanity was a reflection of the people he led. In the Valley of Vision, a people called by God to excel in humble service to Him were an embarrassment.
So I will drive you out of your office:
Shebna looked for honor, glory, and a lasting memorial, but he would not find it. The LORD made certain that he was never buried in his expensive tomb. He died in exile away from his home, magnificent tomb, and the beautiful valley that had fallen into ruin.
“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.”
Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, mentioned in other Bible passages such as 1 Kings 18:18 and Isaiah 36:3, was another assistant to King Hezekiah. He was a worthy replacement for the self-absorbed Shebna. His godly character did not escape the notice of the Lord.
Both Shebna and Eliakim were assistants of Hezekiah, but Shebna was a glory seeker and self-focused while Eliakim was focused toward the LORD.
The LORD took Shebna’s position and authority, and give it to Eliakim.
Because Eliakim saw his service to the LORD’s as a priority, he was given great authority. He was granted ownership of a key prophetic privilege and title. He was given The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder.
Matthew Henry writes the following in his Bible commentary.
Probably he carried a golden key upon his shoulder as a badge of his office or had one embroidered upon his cloak or robe, to which this alludes. Being over the house, and having the key delivered to him, as the seals are to the lord-keeper, he shall open and none shall shut, shut and none shall open. He had access to the house of the precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices; and to the house of the armor and the treasures (ch. 39:2), and disposed of the stores there as he thought fit for the public service. He put whom he pleased into the inferior offices and turned out whom he pleased. Our Lord Jesus describes his own power as Mediator by an allusion to this (Rev. 3:7), that he has the key of David, wherewith he opens and no man shuts, he shuts and no man opens. His power in the kingdom of heaven, and in the ordering of all the affairs of that kingdom, is absolute, irresistible, and uncontrollable.
A Shadow of Jesus
Eliakim became a living testimony to a prophecy of the coming Messiah. Jesus referred to this passage as one that spoke of Him: These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts and shuts and no one opens.” (Revelation 3:7)
And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place
The LORD established his authority as stable and secure. I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place. Shebna was a self-centered and poor leader. But Eliakim was a God-centered leader. This made him stable and unmoveable. Nail’s or pegs were used to secure items of importance into secure positions. This new leader, chosen by God was a symbol of the coming Messiah whose rule would be eternal and bring security to all who trusted in him.
“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.”
The peg that is fastened:
Poor Shebna, he thought his position was safe but he was wrong. The same is true of all self-centered leaders who seek glory and lasting fame. Everyone will answer to the God. He sees the small and great among men. Everyone will give an account for how he or she lived, especially those given the responsibilities of power.
Eliakim is not yet promoted in Isaiah’s vision, (I will fasten him as a peg, Isaiah 22:23), Shebna is the peg that is fastened at the moment but is about to be removed, not only from power but from the country. He will be removed and be cut down and fall.
A final word from Matthew Henry on the fall of Shebna.
A prophecy of his fall and the sullying of his glory.
That he should not quickly be displaced and degraded (v. 19): I will drive thee from thy station. High places are slippery places, and those are justly deprived of their honor that is proud of it and puffed up with it, and deprived of their power that does hurt with it. God will do it, who shows himself to be God by looking upon proud men and abasing them, Job 40:11, 12. To this v. 25 refers. “The nail that is now fastened in the sure place
(that is, Shebna, who thinks himself immovably fixed in his office)
shall be removed, and cut down, and fall.’ Those are mistaken who think any place in this world a sure place, or themselves as nails fastened in it; for there is nothing here but uncertainty. When the nail falls the burden that was upon it is cut off; when Shebna was disgraced all that had a dependence upon him fell into contempt too. Those that are in high places will have many hanging upon them as favourites whom they are proud of and trust to; but they are burdens upon them, and perhaps with their weight break the nail, and both fall together, and by deceiving ruin one another-the common fate of great men and their flatterers, who expect more from each other than either performs.
The fate of Shebna is a warning to all of us who are granted the privilege of leadership.
Lead well and you shall be honored by God.
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