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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 3


2. The Key of the House of David




The Holy and True One is the possessor of the Key of David. He holds this, and the Keys of Hades and of Death; and the Key of the Abyss (i. 18; xx. 1). A key is symbolical of power to open and shut; hence, the Anointed One saith in this writing, that he openeth and shutteth, and no one can prevent him.

The key is styled "of the David," because there is a something connected with David to be opened and shut. This something is revealed in the prophets. There it is styled "the Key of the House of David" that is, of his kingdom (Isa. xxii. 22). In this chapter, two states of the Kingdom of David are prefigured by the names of two of Hezekiah's officers -- SHEBNA and ELIAKIM. The former, derived from shavah, "to lead captive," represents the kingdom in a dispersed and ruined condition; and the latter from AIL, God, and yahkim, "shall set up" indicates the restoration of the kingdom by Divine Power. Hence, Ail-yahkim, or Eliakim, is a typical name for the restoration Power, which is Deity in David's Son, or the Christ. Of this Eliakim, the Spirit in Isaiah saith to Shebna, Hezekiah's treasurer, "I will call him, and clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the Key of the House of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as A NAIL in an established habitation: and he shall be for a THRONE OF GLORY for the house of his father. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of the house of his father, the earth-products and the shoots, all vessels of the small, from vessels of the wash-troughs, even to all vessels of the skins."

This is a very interesting typical prophecy. We presume, that no one will be so obtuse as to suppose that the things written were fulfilled in Eliakim the son of Hilk-Yah. Very little is left on record concerning him in the Bible. From this we learn, that while Shebna was Secretary of State and Treasurer, Eliakim was over the King's Household in Hezekiah's reign, and at the time of the destruction of the Assyrian host by a blast from Divine Power, and the consequent deliverance of Jerusalem and Judah from the oppressor. His name, the peculiar circumstances of the time, and his position in David's kingdom, all combined to make him a very fit person for a Messianic representative. Shebna was officially identified with the law which was to vanish away; while Eliakim was officially identified with the kingdom of David which Divine Power will set up when the time arrives to deliver the remnant of the captivity.

The Ail-yakim, or Eliakim, typified, then, is "MESSIAH THE PRINCE," in whom all is to be accomplished that was typically spoken of Eliakim. Shebna's robe, girdle, and govemment, are all to be transferred to the Christ; who will be both scribe and treasurer when Divine Power, or AIL, shall set up, yakim (or Eliakimize) the tabernacle of David which has fallen down, "and set it up as in the days of old" (Acts xv. 16; Amos ix. 11). Then will he be "a Father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah."

Isaiah remarks, that the Eliakim should wear his key upon his shoulder, as a mark of office, of his power to open and shut with authority; thereby indicating that he is the Grand Master and Chief of the House of David. Callimachus says, that Ceres carried a key upon her shoulder; a custom that appears very strange to us; but the ancients had large keys in the form of a sickle, and which from their weight and shape, could not otherwise be carried conveniently.

For the key of the house of David, then, to rest upon the Eliakim's shoulder, is equivalent to the government of that house, or of Israel resting there. This is evident from the prophet's allusion to "the shoulder" (ix. 6). In this place, speaking of the "Son to be given" to the house of David, who should be called AIL-GIVBOR, the Mighty Power, Avi-AD, Father of Futurity, SAR-SHAHLOM, Prince of Peace, the Spirit says, "the government shall be upon his shoulder." This can mean nothing else than that the government then on the shoulder of Ahaz the reigning prince of Judah, should at some future time rest upon the shoulder of a Divine Son of David's house, named IMMANUEL, or "God with us," as typified by one of the prophet's family: and this idea is symbolically expressed by the apocalyptic phrase, "I have the Key of the David, opening and no one shutteth, and shutting and no one openeth." "The key of the David" is an elliptical phrase. The words to be supplied are indicated by Isaiah: according to him, "house of," in the sense of kingdom of, should intervene between "key of the" and the name "David." Thus, the Spirit-Man who was dead and is living as the Holy One and the True God, in speaking to the Star-Angel in Philadelphia, and through them to all the ecclesias, declares that he is the Eliakim; and that the government of the kingdom of David is with him; and that holding the keys, he will "set it up as in the days of old."

But furthermore, the Spirit-Man being the AIL-yakim, is also "the Nail" and the "Throne of Glory." "The words of the wise are as fastened nails given from one shepherd." The word of the only wise Deity when incarnated, is therefore fitly represented by "a nail fastened in a sure place." Of this nail, the Spirit in Zechariah said, that it should come out of Judah (x. 4). The "sure place" in which it is to be fastened, Ezra designates as "Yahweh Elohim's holy Place," in which he and the remnant of the captivity returned from Babylon, were then sojourning; that is, in Jerusalem. This accords with the true import of makhom niamahn, which signifies an established habitation. This is the "sure place" in which THE NAIL is to be fastened -- in Jerusalem then a peaceable, quiet, and established habitation (Isa. xxxii. 18: xxxiii. 20).

The Spirit-Man is also to be for "a Throne of Glory." A throne is an elevated seat with a canopy and hangings which cover it. Hence, the Eliakim in the passage before us, is styled metaphorically issai, from the root kahsah "to cover." "He shall be for a Cover of Glory for the house of his Father;" for "He shall bear the glory, and sit and rule upon his throne" (Zech. vi. 13): he shall be " a wall of fire round about, and the Glory in the midst of Jerusalem (ii. 5). As the glory sat enthroned between the Cherubim in the times of the law, so it shall be seated upon the Eliakim and his brethren in the apocalyptic Aion of a thousand years.

Isaiah saw this throne of glory in a vision, in the year that king Uzziah died. He tells us that it was an exalted throne, and that the King, YAHWEH TZ'VAOTH, was sitting upon it. Around it stood the Seraphim, who proclaimed superlative holiness, and announced that the whole earth was full of his glory (vi. 1-5). This vision has been reproduced in Apoc. iv. 3, of which we shall treat more at large when we arrive at that chapter in our exposition.

Isaiah tells us in regard to "the Nail," that all the glory of the house of the Eliakim's father shall be suspended upon him; and appositely informs us, that this glory consists of what in the Common Version is termed, "the offspring and the issue." These are in the original hatzeatzaim we-hatzphioth -- literally, earth-products and shoots; in other words, those who, "sown in dishonour," are "raised in glory." They are styled also "all vessels of the small;" that is, "the poor of this world rich in faith, who are heirs of the kingdom," and termed "the small" in Apoc. xi. 18, in relation to "the great" -- the small, being compared to wash-troughs; and the latter, to the vessels made of skins to hold wine, and other choice fluids.

Such is to be the glory that is permanently to cluster around the Eliakim. But before that glorious consummation is developed, the Spirit declared that "the Nail fastened in an established place shall depart: and it shall be cut off, and fall; and that suspended upon it shall be cut down: for Yahweh hath spoken." This cutting off the Nail, and his departure, occurred in the nailing of Jesus to the cross, and his subsequent assumption. The apocalypse symbolizes in "the Lamb slain" this cutting off, and in the tribulation or trial then "about to come upon the whole habitable," the cutting down of that suspended by faith upon the Nail.

The Eliakim who hath the key of the house of David informs all of the Philadelphian class of saints, that he opens and shuts, and none can hinder. He reminds them that an open door had been set before them. He had sent Paul to Ephesus, where he continued, "disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of the Deity," for two whole years; "so that all they that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks " (Acts xix. 8-10). Hence, the Philadelphians, being inhabitants of Asia, had heard it among the rest.

During all that time he opened his mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel. The result was that they came to the understanding of "the word" and confessed "the name," which, owing to the "little strength" they still retained when the apocalypse was written, they had "kept" and "not denied."

They had learned "the things of the Kingdom" or "the word;" and "the things of the Name." That kingdom was the subject-matter of "the word," styled by Isaiah "the law and the testimony;" and which is the rule of speaking for all who walk in the light. They knew that it was the Kingdom of David to be set up by the Deity of the heavens in the land of Israel; that it was to consist of the twelve tribes grafted into their own Olive Tree upon their acknowledgment of Jesus as King of Israel; and that, although they were by nature aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, the "Strait Gate" and "Narrow Way" had been "set before them as an open door, which no one could shut." Peter had opened the door or gate which gave admission into "the way" which leads to the Kingdom. He had opened it to the Jew on Pentecost, and to the nations at the house of Cornelius; not, indeed, by his own power, but by His which descended upon him in baptism of spirit, even by the power of Him "who openeth and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens."

"The keys of the kingdom of the heavens" having been thus apostolically employed, the Philadelphians were all alive to the Spirit's allusion to the key of the house of David in his possession. This announcement would fall powerless upon the ear of modern clerical assemblies. These have no more interest in David the son of Jesse than had the revolters against David's house in the days of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who caused Israel to go a whoring after the calves at Bethel. Not so the Philadelphians. They had kept the word of the kingdom treasured up in their affections; so that any mention of the Key of David would be responded to with heartfelt and abiding interest and joy.

But, they had not only kept the word of the Spirit, they had also "not denied his Name." They were not contaminated with the current heresies which denied that he had been manifested in Sin's flesh. They kept the word of the kingdom against those who made it of none effect by teaching that souls went to kingdoms beyond the skies at death; and they held fast to the Spirit's name against those who abolished it by their gnosis and oppositions of science, falsely so called; which were the pith and poison, or "divinity" of the Synagogue of the Satan, as at this day.

The Synagogue of the Satan with its clergy were arrayed against those who kept the word and held fast the name, in every city. The Satanists, as they have done ever since, contended that they were the true Jews; the genuine Israel of God. They contended for the ascendancy, and at length attained it; and when they had established their usurpation over the faithful, they aimed at supremacy in the Roman State, and acquired it also; upon which they turned round upon their former brethren, and persecuted them to bonds, imprisonment, and death. They scorned the idea of the humble poor in Christ being the special objects of his affection; and not such men as Origen and Eusebius, "the transformed ministers of the Satan." But, "the seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of the Deity, were gone forth into all the earth." He had observed their works. He saw that they were irreclaimable; therefore he said, "Behold, I give up out of the Synagogue of the Satan them who say that they are Jews, yet are not, but do lie." The Spirit would abandon them to their own delusions, as Paul had predicted in 2 Thess. ii. 10, saying, "Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, the Deity for this cause shall send upon them Strong Delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be condemned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" -- that system of doctrine they style "orthodoxy." They were not Jews. The true faith was not in them; and consequently, although immersed, they were not in Christ; and not being in him "they could not be Abraham's Seed, and were not therefore heirs according to the promise."

But though to be given up as reprobates, they were not to go unpunished. They were to be subjected to "an hour of trial being about to come upon the whole habitable to make proof of them who dwell upon the earth." This, was a proximate visitation. A remoter and ultimate one was in store for them, which would result in their acknowledgment of those who kept the word, and denied not the Spirit's name, as His beloved; and not only so, but that they shall come up, and prostrate themselves at the feet of those they have despised. "Behold, I will bring upon them," saith the Spirit, even calamity, when they shall "be tormented in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb" -- "that they may have come and prostrated before thy feet, and may have known that I have loved thee."




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