“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.’ ” Revelation 3:7-8
Our next installment in Holy Spirit allusion collusion is here in Revelation 3:7 which references the inspired utterance of the Prophet Isaiah found in Isaiah 22:22 concerning Eliakim. Here’s the context of which John in the Spirit alludes: “Then it will come about in that day, that I will summon My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah and I will clothe him with your tunic, and tie your sash securely about him, I will entrust him with your authority, and he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, when he opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open. And I will drive him like a peg in a firm place, and he will become a throne of glory to his father’s house.” (Isa. 22:20-23)
Eliakim and Shebna
Isaiah 22 falls in the section of the book of Isaiah (chs 13-23) which emphasizes the foolishness of trusting in nations. Isaiah prophesies all will fall before the judgments of the LORD. The context of Isaiah 22:15-25 deals with the deposing of Sheba, the then steward over the house of Hezekiah and the elevation of Eliakim in his place. No reasons nor specific information is given in the Scripture for why Shebna was deposed. Some suppose that Shebna may have been appointed steward over the house by King Ahaz (Hezekiah’s father) and continued in that position early into Hezekiah’s reign. There is conjecture that he may have been among those that counseled King Ahaz to turn to Assyria for help in the face of the Syro-Ephraimite threat instead of the LORD. If Shebna had done so, then it’s possible that was the reason for Isaiah’s rebuke and the removal of Shebna as steward to the lower position of scribe in Hezekiah’s reign.
Some historical context
By the time of Sennacherib’s siege upon Jerusalem, Eliakim was the steward in the house of King Hezekiah, Shebna was the scribe and Joah the recorder. They were sent out to hear the terms of surrender offered by Rabshakeh at the conduit of the upper pool which is on the highway of the fuller’s field (Isa. 36:1-3). After hearing the threats from Rabshakeh, they returned to King Hezekiah, repeated what was told them to which Hezekiah then sent them to seek out the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah’s answer for the king is don’t be afraid of this guys words, I’ll take care of him and his army. Hezekiah and Isaiah pray to the LORD and the previous prophetic utterances of Isaiah are fulfilled with the destruction of the Assyrian army in one night by an angel of the LORD. Sennacherib returns to Nineveh where he was assassinated some years later by his own sons (Isa. 36:6-7, 36-38).
The key of the house of David
The fact that Eliakim was clothed and entrusted with authority, looked to as a father (protector) of the house of Judah conveys that he was an influential, faithful servant over the house, and more so, a faithful servant to the LORD. It appears that Eliakim would be one who would have encouraged Hezekiah to turn to the LORD in the desperate straits of the time of Sennacherib’s attack upon Jerusalem, based upon Isaiah’s praise of him. The key to the house of David signified his free access to the king’s house and his ability to restrict that access as well.
Typology and comparison
Let’s consider now the full context of Revelation 3:7-13 concerning the church at Philadelphia and John’s allusion to this passage in Isaiah 22.
Jesus Christ, who has the key of David, is pictured as the faithful Servant exalted over the true house of God, the church (Heb. 3:6). Jesus Christ is the prophesied “Eternal Father” (Isa. 9:6) entrusted with all authority to shepherd the inhabitants of spiritual Jerusalem and Judah (Heb. 12:22), His church. In turn, Philadelphia is praised by Jesus for her faithful deeds and promised an open door. What does this mean? As faithful servants and stewards, those who have kept His word and not denied His name, they have unlimited access to the King of Kings, His protection, and His power.
Now for a little typology. The disobedient Jews (Shebna) were deposed as “stewards” for rejecting the Messiah and the utterances of the LORD’s prophets concerning Him. The church of Christ (Eliakim), those who willingly confess His name, rely on Him and execute His purposes, have been elevated as His trusted stewards. We have been clothed, like Eliakim, in our immersion into Christ. We bear His trust, authority, and open door access to Him. However, there can be issues. Philadelphia had to deal with “the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie” (Rev. 3:9) and the “hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world” (Rev. 3:10) The faithful in Philadelphia overcame those pretenders and worldly tribulation by keeping His word, confessing His name, and trusting in His power. So can we. Church, heed the lesson, know who you are! Christ Jesus has fixed us firmly “like a peg” in the eternal spiritual house and seated us with Him on the “throne of glory” in heavenly Jerusalem. Grab onto that power!