and tore down houses to strengthen the wall.
11 You built a reservoir between the two walls
for the water of the Old Pool,
but you did not look to the One who made it,
or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.
12 The Lord, the LORD Almighty,
called you on that day
to weep and to wail,
to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth.
13 But see, there is joy and revelry,
slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep,
eating of meat and drinking of wine!
"Let us eat and drink," you say,
"for tomorrow we die!"
There is a lot of stuff going on in this passage.
- Israel is depicted as under attack. Worse than under attack-- they are under siege. The chariots and horsemen described earlier in the chapter are not Israelites, because Israelites typically did not train horses for combat or have the necessary means to field a regiment of chariots. So, to have a massive army in the valleys of the country may at other times be a mark of splendor or strength... but since they have those horses, it's a sign of defeat. Think Sennacherib (except that story ends a lot better for Israel than this one).
- The actions of Israel then mean more than ever. In this situation, they need to have the ability to make correct choices. Emergency preparations are made, and what is left of Jerusalem is being apportioned out to withstand the siege. The wall is reinforced. Water is gathered. At the surface, it looks like the Israelites are digging in and not going down without a decent fight.
- But the Israelites have instead lost heart. They have a party. Defeat is imminent, so they have as much fun as they can before the invaders snuff them out for good. All of those preparations to hold out during the siege were just rituals... what anyone should do when under this kind of attack. The building of this facade gets a huge amount of narrative time, though, while the exposition of it is only a few verses. How come?
- The end of the chapter is an ironic end of a solid leader. He has made all the right choices and planned all the right moves. But in the final moments, I make the connection that Eliakim chooses not to seek after God, even in the advent of total defeat, and especially when his choices matter most. And though the history books of the nation of Israel speak of victory after victory won by God himself, it just doesn't seem prudent to Eliakim to look to what is intangible or possibly useless against the onslaught. It seems impossible to beat these odds, so he figures his chances of living it up one last time are way better. You can see how he places his wager.
I think this chapter speaks volumes on hollow leadership. And I believe that actions define my values for everyone who doesn't know what I'm thinking. Yes, I read a lot of books about leadership. I've been to quite a few conferences and meetings on how to develop my relational abilities and communication skills and conflict management and visionary thinking. I have been in a position of effective leadership for three years. I am well on my way to knowing all the right moves--
like perseverance. Endurance. Consistency. Integrity. Dialogue. Perspective. Selflessness. Proaction.
But do I look first to God? Or am I building up a wall to be torn down tomorrow?