Unlocking the Key of David

By: S. Lockwood 

Let's start with the message that was revealed to the apostle John back when he was imprisoned on the island of Patmos at the end of his ministry, about 2000 years ago and we will focus on part of his message to the seven churches in Asia minor, that is given in Revelation 2 and 3.

To introduce this topic, let's start by turning to Revelation 1. These are the words of Jesus Christ, as recorded by John.

Revelation 1 verse 11, Jesus is saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, "What you see, write in a book, send it to the seven churches which are in Asia, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatra, to Sardis, to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."

Let's jump now and read a portion of Christ's message to the church of Philadelphia. Let's turn to Revelation 3 and start in verse seven.

Revelation 3 verse 7,"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, "These things says He (Jesus Christ) who is holy, He who is true. "He who has the Key of David, He opens and no one shuts and shuts and no one opens."" {8} "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name."

How does verse eight apply to verse seven specifically to the Key of David?

What is the meaning behind the Key of David? Why would that be very personal to us in nature as we picture Jesus Christ's return. Letís keep reading and find out more.

In The Past

In the church, we had heard several explanations of this passage, talking about the Key of David, and the messages and explanations were valid but there is little bit more to it than what was explained back in the 70s, the church was growing by leaps and bounds. The church applied this message of preaching the gospel to the world as a witness and the church was focused on that commission as given in Matthew 24 verse 14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, then the end will come."

The focus was to get this word out to the entire world as a witness and so when they read the explanation for the Key of David, that if God opened the door to preaching the gospel no one could close it and if God didn't open the door to preaching the gospel, no one could open it. It sounded like a valid explanation and it was a valid explanation, God has to open the doors or close the doors, that's exactly how this was described in the past. Some doors to fulfilling the commission were opened and some doors for fulfilling the commission were not opened and God is the one who opens and closes those doors. That understanding fit really well with the work ethic of the church at that time.

But is there more to it than just that? Is there a deeper and more personal understanding for each of us today.

King David

Let's think about David, Israel's greatest king. David was the king of Israel prior to when Israel became a divided nation. What role does David have to do with the Key of David? The Key of David, has a lot to do with David and David's throne as he sat on it as the king of Israel, but it also has a lot to do with prophecy and the rule of Christ, a descendent of David.

The prophesied Christ would be in the line of David, in which we know He was physically speaking, He was of David's lineage. That's very clear in Scripture (Romans 1:3, Revelation 22:16).

Christís and Davidís Throne

Christ now spiritually sits on David's throne as a present and future King of Israel (Luke 1:32). Jesus is our king today and He will be the future King of Israel. He will sit on the throne of David and that throne is also a judgment seat. Christ is now judging all of us now (1 Peter 4:17). Just notice how this ties into prophecy which was given back in Isaiah 9. This is a very exciting prophecy for all of us.

Christ was Born to be a King

Isaiah 9 starting in verse six, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and the government will be upon his shoulder. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, {7} Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to order it, to establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."

The Key of David in prophecy ties into prophecy of Christ sitting on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice forever. It also ties into another prophecy, when the angel prophesied to Mary about the birth of Christ.

Let's go back and read that in Luke one starting in verse 30, "Then the angel said to her, do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. {31} Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, you shall call His name JESUS. {32} He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David {33} And He will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. "

Prophetically the Key of David ties into God establishing the kingdom of God here on earth, starting with Christ's return.

With God giving Christ the throne of David to reign over the house of Jacob forever, as King of Kings and Lord of lords.

We can read that in Revelation 19 verse 16, "And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."

Biblical Meaning of the Key of David

So what then is the biblical meaning of the Key of David? Is it primarily have to do with the work of God, opening and closing doors or is there a more personal meaning than that? Let's look at what the Bible tells us about this.

Let's go back and read Revelation 3 verse seven and we will take a deeper look at this, "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, "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.""

First of all, who is this revelation from? Well we know that this is directly from Jesus Christ.

We know that from Revelation 1 verse one, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants; things which must shortly take place."

These are Christ's words. All these are descriptions of Jesus Christ, they are holy and true. It is very clear. Who has this key? Christ possesses this Key of David. Who opens and no one shuts? Christ opens and no one shuts. This is describing Christ and the responsibilities only belonging to Jesus Christ. So what is this key used for? If the door is locked, then you need the right key, that's obvious. You have to have the right key to open the door, to enter and to see what's on the other side. So this brings up a question, what door does this Key of David open? Is it a door to doing the work of God, as we have talked about? Or is the door to something else or is both?

Let's continue in verse eight, "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door." Christ tells us, He has already unlocked the door for us. It is open, we can enter it.

This door is open to true members of the body of Christ. It sounds like a deeper meaning than just doing the work of preaching the gospel.

We read the passage regarding the Key of David in Revelation 7, part of the passage is in italics and it is in quotes. When you see that in your Bible and it is italicized and also it is in quotes, why is that? It is done that way because this is a direct quote from the Old Testament, specifically from the book of Isaiah.

So if we want to understand what this really is talking about, regarding the Key of David, we need to go back and look and see why this is a direct quote and what is it a direct quote of. It is a direct quote and it is directly quoted from Isaiah 22 verse 22. So that begs the question, what was happening back in Isaiah 22 when this was recorded? Why was Christ's last words, to the churches in Revelation 3 verse seven, why was He quoting Isaiah 22 verse 22? What's the connection there.

Isaiah 22 starts out talking about the burden against the Valley of Vision. This is getting into prophecy that takes place around Jerusalem or the Valley of Vision, but then it is written at the time when the nation of Israel had already been divided into two kingdoms. After King Solomon died the kingdom of Israel was divided into two kingdoms, Jeroboam in the North and Rehoboam in the South. The kingdom of Israel in the north with it's capital, Samaria, and the kingdom of Judah in the South and Jerusalem was it's capital.

Right around this time that Isaiah 22:22 was written was about the time that this transition was starting to take place, and the kingdom of Israel was about to fall to the Assyrians. If you recall, the kingdom of Israel, after the split had no righteous kings and they continued on a downward spiral and actually fell quicker than the kingdom of Judah. The kingdom of Judah had a few righteous kings scattered throughout the history and it lasted a few years longer before they finally fell.

King Hezekiah

So Isaiah 22 is a prophecy concerning the house of Judah taking place during the reign of King Hezekiah. King Hezekiah is one of the more famous Kings, not only because he was a righteous king, but there's a lot of archaeological facts to prove that he was around. First of all, his seal which was clearly translated that he's the son of Isaiah, he was the king of Judah.

Hezekiah reigned in Judah, for about 30 years, from abut 724 BC to 695 BC, and as I said, he was a righteous king.

Any king, whether righteous or unrighteous would have servants. They are going to have servants or stewards to take care of their needs. Kings need faithful servants. They need faithful stewards and righteous kings tended to have faithful stewards or faithful servants. Unrighteous kings, as before Hezekiah tended to have unrighteous servants and unrighteousness tends to trickle down through a nation and it starts with the king and it will trickle down and so it's contagious and filters throughout the kingdom.


So, King Hezekiah had a faithful servant named Eliakim.

So, with all that background, let's go back and pick up the story in Isaiah 22 and let's start in verse 20. "Then it shall be in that day, That I will call My servant Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, {21} 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."

Eliakim was a faithful steward to God, a faithful steward to King Hezekiah and so King Hezekiah was going to replace his unfaithful steward and then going forward giving responsibilities over to Eliakim, so it was like a changing of guard taking place, He was switching out his servants.

So who was Eliakim going to replace and why was he going to replace him?


We will go back up in the story and pick it up here in verse 15 of Isaiah 22 so we can build the rest of this history. "Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts: "Go, proceed to this steward, To Shebna, who is over the house, and say: {16} '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? {17} Indeed, the LORD will throw you away violently, O mighty man, And will surely seize you. {18} 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. {19} So I will drive you out of your office, And from your position. he will pull you down."

Shebna was over the king's house.

I had read one account which said he was specifically over the treasury, which would kind of make sense whether he was over the treasury directly or indirectly, in either case he was definitely over the king's house and was responsible for all the king's affairs. He was responsible for appointing servants, responsible for everything that the King did, you had to work through Shebna.

Verse 19 the LORD God says, "I will drive you out of your office, And from your position he will pull you down." (God is going to replace him.) {20} 'Then it shall be in that day, That I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah; {21} I will clothe him with your robe (the robe of Shebna), And strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibilities into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem And to the house of Judah."

God is going to give Eliakim the office and the responsibilities that Shebna had and as I said, Shebna was over the king's house, but now Eliakim is going to be given that responsibility.

As the King's steward Shebna would've appointed positions in other areas in the king's house and it appears that he was using this role for his own interest, and his own personal gain. That's why God is going to take him out of that position.

Shebna is not serving God's interest, nor the interest of the king, nor the interest of the people of Judah. He's trying to carve out a name for himself. That's exactly what verse 16 is referring to. But you see here that it talks about carving out a name for himself and that is what Shebna actually did. This is located in the British Museum. It's called the, Shebna inscription and it actually was where he carved his name out in stone, and there is one part that is broken out, but it seems to be very clear that this is the Shebna that was found right around the time, around the seventh century, around Jerusalem in that area, so it is very clear that he was trying to carve a name out for himself so his name would be known for eternity. It would last forever, well actually his name will be known for eternity because it is carved out much more permeable than stone, something that will last forever. That's in God's word. His name will always be recorded for us.

As a steward in the king's house, Shebna could appoint key positions and he alone had that responsibility to allow people to come see the king or to allow people to not be able to see the king. You could not just walk in and say, "I want to go talk to King Hezekiah." It was not an open door policy. You had to go through certain channels and Shebna would've been that door and you would have to get permission from him, which is some of the reason that he was using his position unethically, perhaps taking bribes or something. If the steward says, "You can't go in to see the king," then you could not appeal that and you would not to be able to go in. If he said, you can go into see the king, then the doors are open and you go right in and no one could stop you.

It appears that Shebna was using his position and maybe showing favoritism, maybe getting kickbacks. Not sure exactly what happened but in either case, he was not fulfilling his position as he should have been, for the interest of the king, of the people or of God.

How many people in positions of power today do this?

Eliakim to Replace Shebna

Now Eliakim is going to be given these responsibilities in place of Shebna. Let's go back to Isaiah 22 verse {20}, "'Then it shall be in that day, That I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah; {21} 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."

It is very clear, that God is going to take these responsibilities and give them to someone who will do them as He wills. He will be called upon to serve God, to be called upon to serve the king, he will be called upon to serve the people. He will be a true servant to the people of Judah having their best interest at heart and that's what a true servant does.

Continuing on in verse 22, which was quoted by Jesus Christ back in Revelation 7.

Verse 22, "The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder."

This is referring to Eliakim, the faithful servant that we've been talking about with this change between him and Shebna. It is also a prophecy regarding Jesus Christ.

Continuing in verse 22, "So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open."

Eliakim is now given this key responsibility as a faithful servant to determine who was admitted to the king's presence and who would not be admitted. He also would have the responsibility of appointing key positions under the king. So King Hezekiah, a direct descendent of King David, hence, the Key of the house of David, so this key we are talking about is an authoritative key.

Isaiah 22 verse 22, The Key of the house of David is the same thing as Revelation 3 verse seven, the Key of David. This authority involves who can see the king and who cannot see the king. This was absolute authority. If Eliakim said, "You couldn't see the king," then you could not see him. That was it. That was the final decision, you could not see him and you couldn't overwrite it. If Eliakim said, you could see the king, then you could, and no one could stop you. He had absolute authority but also if Eliakim appointed someone in service to the Kings administration in the same position, no one could say otherwise. It was his absolute authority. He could set up as he willed.

The key of David is a very authoritative key, only given to someone who's proved himself, someone to be loyal and faithful steward, and servant. Someone you could count on to always do the right thing, do the right thing for the king, do the right thing before the people and do the right thing before God.

Letís Focus on Christ

So with that understanding in mind, let's go back now to Revelation 3 verse seven. Let's think about this and focus of Christ.

Revelation 3 verse seven, we will read it again. "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, 'These things says He (Jesus) 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":

Today Christ is at the right hand of God the Father (Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1) and He has this absolute authority (Matthew 28:18). Christ is God's faithful servant (Revelation 1:5). He carries out everything the Father says. He is a faithful servant. He has proven himself 100%. He has all judgment, all authority given to him. Christ has absolute authority as to who would be admitted. But where is He admitting people to. It is His absolute authority to who will be admitted to the kingdom of God and who will not be admitted to the kingdom of God.

Today the Key of David is given to Jesus Christ as God's faithful steward and Christ brings this authority with Him at His return. It is Christ who says who's going to be in God's kingdom and who will not be in God's kingdom. All judgment and authority is given to Jesus Christ by God the Father.

Let's notice John chapter 10 in verses seven and nine. "Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep." {9} "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."

Jesus is talking about eternal salvation, eternal life in the kingdom of God." Christ is the door to eternal life and He is the only door, there is no other. Christ has sole and absolute authority as to who will be admitted to the kingdom of God and who will not be admitted to the kingdom of God.

So this begs the next question, so who will Christ admit and who will He not admit? To whom will He have the door open and to whom will the door be shut? Jesus Christ possesses the Key of David. Jesus explains His authority in his own words.

Let's look at the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25 verses 1 to 12. This is Christ's own parable, "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. {2} "Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. {3} "Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, {4} "but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps." (They were prepared and they were ready.) {5} "But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept." (All ten of them slumbered and slept.) {6} "And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!'

This happened very quickly, they all were slumbering and sleeping.

{7} "Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. (The virgins who were prepared.) {8} "And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' {9} "But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.'"

Oil is representative of Godís Holy Spirit. The wise virgins were saying, You cannot get God's Holy Spirit from us, you can only get from your relationship with God, through repentance, keeping Godís commandments, overcoming, prayer, bible study, meditation and fasting.

{10} "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready" (Those who had prepared themselves), "they went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. {11} "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' {12} "But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'"

The time was past, the door was open and you had your chance, but you chose to do other things. You chose not to prepare yourself, even though Jesus told you this time was coming.

We should ask ourselves, would Christ recognize me? Christ here is portrayed as being the bridegroom about to marry his bride, the church, those of us called now are the espoused bride of Christ.

Invitation to a Wedding

Let's also notice another parable in Matthew 22. It's the parable of the wedding feast. Let's start in verse two, "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, {3} "and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. {4} "Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding."'

Some were not ready to come. Some had too much going on in their lives, they were too busy and they had too many things to take care of.

Verse 5, "But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. {6} "And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. {7} "But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. {8} "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy."

They had no real love for Jesus Christ. They had the cares of the world to take care of. They knew the wedding was coming. They had been invited to it. What about us? We have been invited to the wedding of the Lamb. Are we going to attend? (Rev. 19:7-9).

Verse 9, "'Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' " {10} "So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. {11} "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. {12} "So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. {13} "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' {14} "For many are called, but few are chosen."

He wasn't prepared, we need to be prepared for Christ's return. The door for the bride of Christ is only open to those who are properly attired. What will Christ evaluate and look for to see who's properly attired? What Christ is going to look for is a reflection of himself, just as He is a reflection of the Father. So are we becoming like Christ? Something else you can ask yourself, perhaps you can ask your spouse or good friend. "Where am I falling short?" Ask yourself: Is Jesus Christ living in me? Am I His reflection. If He were to look at me, would I be His reflection? Are we developing the mind of Christ? To those striving to put on Christ, the door will be open. To those not working on that, the door will be shut.

The Key of David

The Key of David, is the judgment and authority given to Christ as God's faithful servant and faithful steward to determine who will be admitted into the kingdom of God and who will not be admitted.

I would like to close with the message to the Church of Philadelphia for those striving to put on Jesus Christ.

Let's look at Revelation 3 verses 7 to 12, "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, '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": {8} "I know your works."

Jesus is saying, "I've seen the very positive things you're doing and the sacrifices you've made for me. I've seen that. I know your works."

Verse 8, "See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it."

The door is opened for us, the door is to the kingdom of God and everlasting life. It's open and no one can shut it. All of us have been given an open door to the kingdom and no one can take it away from us as long as we stay the course.

Verse 8, "for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name." {9} "Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie; indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you."

Christ has seen our trials. He sees what we go through each and every day. He sees our struggles. He knows what we are doing. Sometimes we fall short (Romans 3:23). But he still loves us. The fact is we can't stop. We can never stop. We must endure to the end (Matthew 24:13).

Verse 10, "Because you have kept My commandments to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. {11} "Behold, I am coming quickly!"

You have been given Godís precious knowledge, you have been given this time, you have been invited to come. He wants you there. Don't let go now. Endure to the end.

"Hold fast to what you have, that no one may take your crown. {12} "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name."

Jesus Christ has the Key of David and He has opened the door for us to enter the Kingdom of God and have eternal life. Letís endure to the end and be there to see it!

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This article was transcribed with some minor editing.
Transcribed by: bb 6/1/21

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