A Nail in a Sure Place

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We will here briefly look at three verses from Isaiah 22.

Isaiah 22:23. “And I will fasten him [as] a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house.”

And I will fasten him [as] a nail in a sure place. The word nail is used twice as a Messianic figure: In Ezra 9:8 we read: “to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place.” And Zechariah 10:4, “Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail.” The Targum (𝔗) is explicit about the Messianic meaning: “מְשִיחֵיה,” or “their anointed one.”

Many exegetes speak about houses in the east built with pre-formed protrusions—or nails—as the hardness or softness of the building materials would not permit the adding of nails after its completion. These nails were thus made sure.

Lowth has, “We see, therefore, that these nails were of necessary and common use, and of no small importance, in all their apartments; conspicuous, and much exposed to observation: and if they seem to us mean [i.e., ordinary, common—GB] and insignificant, it is because we are not acquainted with the thing itself, and have no name to express it by, but what conveys to us a low and contemptible idea. ‘Grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, (saith Ezra 9:8), to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place :’ that is, as the margin║ of our Bible explains it, ‘a constant and sure abode.’”

Elder Bruce R McConkie
Elder Bruce R McConkie

Elder Bruce R. McConkie (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, p.529) explains: “Old Testament prophecies about the crucifixion, as that volume of Holy Writ now stands, do not use the word crucify, but notwithstanding this, in some respects they are even more pointed and express than their Book of Mormon counterparts … Ezra even speaks of ‘a nail in his holy place’ (Ezra 9:8), and Isaiah of ‘the nail that is fastened in the sure place,’ having reference to the nails driven in the Crucified One … As to these prophecies, whoso readeth let him understand.”

This comment about “whose readeth” calls upon the reader to recall something they already know or suggests that the topic is too sacred to dwell upon.  

And he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house. Regarding the word throne, Gill well says, “Christ is the brightness of his Father’s glory; and, to them that believe, he is an honour; he is on a glorious throne himself, and he will bring all his Father’s family to sit with him on the same throne (see 1 Samuel 2:8).” Rawlinson, also making this a type of the Messiah has, “So shall all members of the family of God, made sons of God by adoption in Christ, participate in the final glory of Christ in his eternal kingdom.” Simeon has, “Was Eliakim ‘a glorious throne to his father’s house?’ Jesus also, by his righteous administration, advances the glory of his heavenly Father.”

Isaiah 22:24. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.”

Kay explains: “The glorious promises made to David … shall be suspended upon him. Men, indeed, have turned the glory of the Davidic covenant into shame (cp. Psalm 4:2); and the house of David has fallen. But He whom ‘God will raise up’ shall ‘build the temple of the Lord, and He shall bear the glory (Zechariah 6:13); having first born ‘the shame’ (Hebrews 12:2) … for He would ‘bear the iniquities of all’ (Isaiah 53:6, 11).”

David, here, is in reference to the Savior.

The offspring and the issue. Henderson explains: “Both צֶּאֱצָאִים and צְּפִעוֹת are botanical terms,—the former descriptive of what comes out of the earth generally, and applied figuratively to children, Job 5:25; 21:8; Isaiah 48:19; 61:9; the latter, of the worthless shoots of trees.”  

All vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. The Targum (𝔗) has, “From young men to little ones, from the priests clothed with the ephod to the Levites that are holding lyres [Stenning and Chilton have harps].” Rashi (in Rosenberg) explains: “Accordingly, it is an expression of the ministration vessels with which the priests perform the service in the Temple.”

Calvin well says, regarding כֹּל כְּלֵי הַקָּטָן, all vessels of small quantity, “When he speaks of musical vessels, he follows out what he had said in a single word; for it serves to explain the word קטן, little; as if he had said that that there would be nothing so small, or minute, or insignificant, that he would not take charge of it.”

Simeon beautifully has, “Jesus is indeed ‘a nail fastened in a sure place;’ and able to bear the weight of the whole universe. He is exalted by the hand of God himself on purpose that He may ‘be a Prince and a Saviour’ unto us.”

Isaiah 22:25. “In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that [was] upon it shall be cut off: for the LORD hath spoken [it].”

In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall. Eliakim is put for a type of Christ, as well as a righteous man, contrasted to Shebna. So the idea of Eliakim being cut down is troublesome until we understand in what sense this happened.

Rawlinson and Kay give the most satisfactory and beautiful solution. Rawlinson explains, “Is it not possible that the prophet, seeing in Eliakim a type of the Messiah, and becoming more and more Messianic in his utterances, has ended by forgetting the type altogether, and being absorbed in the thought of the antitype? He, the nail so surely fixed in his eternal place, would nevertheless be ‘removed’ for a time, and then ‘be cut down and fall’ (compare Isaiah 52:14; 53:8). At the same time would be ‘cut off’ the burden which Messiah bore (Isaiah 53:12, ‘He bare the sin of many’).”

Regarding the expression in that day, Rawlinson continues: “Is not the day that of Christ’s earthly mission, when it seemed as if his people were about to acknowledge him (Matthew 21:1–11; Mark 11:1–10; Luke 19:29–40), and his throne to be established, but suddenly Messiah was ‘cut off’ (Daniel 9:26)—stricken for the transgression of his people (Isaiah 53:8)?”

Kay writes, “Isaiah 22:25 contains, in germ, what was revealed to Daniel;—that the ‘holy of holies should be anointed,’ and ‘Messiah the prince’ come; but that He should be ‘cut off,’ and ‘the city and the sanctuary be destroyed’ (Daniel 9:24, 26) … When Christ expired, the Temple veil was rent. Then the whole dispensation came virtually to an end. Then ‘the burden that was’ upon Him ‘was cut off,’ —all that heavy burden of ignominy, which He endured, when they crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8); and the name, Eliakim, had its fulfillment in His resurrection and glorification. Then were ‘the sure mercies of David’ established (Isaiah 55:3; Acts 13:34).”

Kay explains that these things were spoken of the great High Priest, even Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:17–18). And further states: “The word for ‘be removed’ [תָּמוּשׁ] is the same that is used in Isaiah 54:10; Jeremiah 31:36; where the new, immoveable, covenant is spoken of. The ‘cutting off’ of Messiah was in order to bring in ‘everlasting righteousness.’ The departure of the risen Saviour was in order to establish ‘a kingdom that cannot be moved.’”

And the burden that [was] upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken [it]. The Targum (𝔗), “And there shall be accomplished the burden of prophecy, which was concerning him; because the Word [Chilton and Stenning have Memra] of the Lord hath so decreed it.” I testify of the Divinity of Christ, even the Holy One of Israel.

Several exegetes explain that the burden could well represent the sins of the world, when Christ triumphed through the expiatory sacrifice. Rawlinson continues with the Messianic line of thought: “For the Lord hath spoken it. The double attestation, at the beginning and at the end of the verse, is a mark of the vast importance of the announcement contained in it, which is, in fact, the germ of the great doctrine of the atonement” (emphasis added).

Photo credit: Ricky Turner-579980-unsplash

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Gregorio Billikopf belongs to the Llanquihue Branch, Puerto Montt Stake, in the south of Chile. He is the author of Isaiah Testifies of Christ and an emeritus academic of the University of California and professor of the University of Chile; author of Party-Directed Mediation: Facilitating Dialogue between Individuals and other books. Gregorio’s paternal grandparents are Lithuanian Jews and German Jews and on his mother’s side of the family he is Chilean. He found Christ through reading the Book of Mormon. You may contact him through bielikov2@yahoo.cl.

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