And They Built a Reservoir

Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking are some of the greatest minds of Western Civilization. People talk about these guys with a great amount of respect, and deservedly so. They were (are) tremendous scientists with overwhelmingly large IQs. We seem to lift up folk with great intelligence, at least a notch or two above the rest of us.

I was just thinking – Why is it, in our culture, we lift up and idolize really, really smart guys?

I was thinking back to many years ago, when my wife and I were in Italy – we wanted to see Michelangelo’s David; after all, it’s one of the famous pieces of art in antiquity. So, we visited the Uffizi in Florence to catch a glimpse.

I must admit, it’s a really fantastic sculpture; yet there were other great works as well. So, we began to research why this statue stands out, over and above all others. What we found is that he is seen as the perfect man; strength, beauty, intelligence....the glorification of man wrapped up in this one great figure. The David is the symbol of the Renaissance!

This symbolism of Michelangelo’s David is preserved to this day in the common saying: “Man can be anything he wants to be, all he has to do is put his mind to it.”

Man relying on himself. Reminds me of Isaiah’s proclamation against Jerusalem in Chapter 22 of his book. Under Sennacherib, the Assyrian army had invaded the territory of Judah, conquered many towns, and was now laying siege to Jerusalem. Enemy chariots were in the valleys and enemy horsemen were at the gates – God’s pending “judgment” was at hand.

While Hezekiah may have looked to the Lord for deliverance, the people of Jerusalem certainly didn’t; rather, they looked to their own devices. They relied on their own ingenuity to prepare for the coming invasion. They repaired the broken down parts of the wall, collected water in the Lower Pool, raided the Armory in the Palace of the Forest, and they built a reservoir. 

(Some commentators feel this reservoir may be referring to Hezekiah’s famous tunnel, which connects the Gihon Spring outside the city walls to the Pool of Siloam inside the city walls. This underground tunnel was carved out of solid rock, and runs some 1,777 feet carrying fresh water into the city. Today, you can still wade through the tunnel in Jerusalem with a flashlight – it’s a great adventure!)

Shoring up the defenses, bringing water into the city, fortifying the walls - all sounds like the logical, intelligent thing to do. Everything the leaders did to prepare made sense, except for one thing: they didn’t consult the Lord.

In verse 11 of chapter 22, Isaiah states: “ But you did not look to its Maker, nor did you have respect for Him who fashioned it long ago.” Since the beginning, whether it was the people at Babel, the ancient Israelites, or modern science, man has looked to his own powers and abilities to solve problems and societies’ ills. It’s the human thing to do.

A former pastor of mine used to counsel the congregation to be careful, not to “in practice,” live like an atheist. I think he was saying, don’t just rely on human intellect, talent, or might to live out your daily life; rather, seek first the kingdom of God.

God has a way of putting us into a position where we can no longer adequately fend for ourselves – maybe it is an illness, an issue at work, a lack of money, a broken relationship, or whatever. For the Israelites, it was the imminent siege of the Assyrians. It wasn’t the mending of the walls or the building of reservoirs that saved the people of Jerusalem; it was the angel of the Lord, who slew 185,000 Assyrians in one night.

“Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord!”

by T. Rankin