The Book of Revelation

Program # 7 

by: Ronald L. Dart

"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, "These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that has the key of David, He that opens and no man shuts and shuts and no man opens."

Thus begins the sixth of the seven letters to the seven churches of Asia, in the mysterious book of Revelation.

If you haven't got any background in this, these are found in the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation, and what many do not understand is, there used to be, the epistles of the apostle Paul, the epistle of Peter and the epistle of James.

Not many realize that of all the epistles in the New Testament, one of them is the book of Revelation. It's a letter, it's a long letter and within the long letter, are seven letters written to seven churches, real churches on the ground, in Asia minor, in the first century. Someone took this letter from John, went to each of these churches, stood before the group and read the letter aloud for them to hear, since John says "blessed is he that reads, and blessed is he that hears, and does the things that are written in the book."

And so it is that this letter penned by John contains within it, seven letters to seven churches and they are sent around to be read, not just one letter in each church, but all of the letters to each of the churches with special emphasis on each one of them.

Now these are historical churches, and we have to realize that as they were read, they probably understood them a little better than we do. Some of the references within these books were people that they knew and circumstances they recognized and doctrines that they had heard actually preached or espoused outside of their church services or what have you, but they heard things that meant things to them in these letters at that time.

Seven is the Number in the Bible of completeness

There were seven churches and seven is the number in the Bible of wholeness or completeness and so there's an assumption that somehow these seven churches represent the whole church. Because of the nature of the book of Revelation, it's fair to assume then, that they represent the whole church at the end time. Therefore all of us who call ourselves Christians, would do well to hear what the spirit says to each of these seven churches.

The Church in Philadelphia

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia he wrote, "These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that has the key of David, He that opens and no man shuts and shuts and no man opens."

What is This Key of David?

Now what is this key of David, and what can it possibly mean? Without the Old Testament, I don't think we would ever make the connection. There are references in the New Testament to Jesus being the son of David, the Messiah, being a son of David, but it really is when you go to the Old Testament and you examine those things about the house of David, that you can begin to grasp what this is talking about.

Now we already know from the other letters that the one speaking is Christ and He designates himself as He writes to each of these churches by different terminology, He may be the one whose feet are like brass or He may be the one whose eyes shine like the sun in its strength, but it's Jesus, it's Christ in every case.

This time He describes himself as the one who has the key of David. What might that be? Well, it's a direct reference to a prophecy found in Isaiah the 22nd chapter, the prophecy is introduced as "The burden of the Valley of Vision." It's at a time in history when the city of Jerusalem is seen as under siege. Armies are gathered all around Jerusalem, a fate which Jerusalem knew more than once. There were chariots, there were horsemen, there were archers, all of them gathered about and no one could leave or in any way enter the city, during the time of siege. It's a time when a lot of the leadership of the city had fled or been captured. Exactly where or how isn’t explained but the verbiage of the chapter lets us know that the leadership had forsaken them, and they ran off. They are not there, and some of them and perhaps in the process of trying to get away had been captured.

Isaiah is speaking and he says, and I will begin reading in verse four, "Therefore, I said, "Look away from me, I will weep bitterly, and I don't want you looking at me while I weep, don't labor to comfort me because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people. {5} For it's a day of trouble and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord God of hosts in the Valley of vision, breaking down the walls and crying to the mountains.""

Now the wording of this, "It's a day of trouble, in a time of crying to the mountains," is reminiscent of the fact, or the descriptions of the book of Revelation, of the ‘day of the Lord,’ of a time when men will cry to the mountains "fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that comes in from the wrath of the Lamb" (Revelation 6:16).

So the references suggest in Isaiah 22, that He's talking about the ‘day of the Lord’ just like the book of Revelation is talking about the ‘day of the Lord.’

He continues to say in verse 7, "It shall come to pass that your choicest valley shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen will set themselves in array at the gate and he discovered the covering of Judah."

Well, what's that? That's talking about a siege with all the chariots and horsemen and bowmen all around the city.

{8} "You did look in that day to the armor of the house of the forest. You've also seen the breaches of the city of David that there are many, and you gathered together the waters of the lower pool."

What's that about? Well, in Hezekiah's day, for example, they actually ran a tunnel from one of the springs inside the walls of the city so they would be assured of having water in a time of siege, so the people were prepared for it. They would see to the breaches in the wall, they would patch them up, expecting a siege, expecting an army to show up on the horizon. There was a lot of work to be done, a lot of water to be gathered in, because water was probably the greatest single determining factor in how long they could last in a siege.

{9} "So you gathered together the waters of the lower pool and {10} You've numbered the houses of Jerusalem and the houses you have broken down to fortify the wall."

If you don't have stones anywhere else, you get them out of the houses and patch up the holes in the wall.

{11} "You also made a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool."

So water, water, get a moat built around this thing. Let's be sure we have got water to drink and they would break down the houses even, if necessary, to be sure the place is ready for the siege.

"But, you have not looked to the Maker thereof, neither had respect and to him that fashioned it all long ago.

You look to your own work, you've done everything in your power to defend your city, you have done everything except look to God!

Let Us Eat and Drink, For Tomorrow We Shall Die

"In that day," verse 12 of Isaiah 22, "In that day did the LORD God of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness and to girding with sackcloth." And what did He see? {13} "Joy and gladness, slaying oxen, killing sheep and eating flesh and drinking wine."

Let's have a party! God says you're in a lot of trouble. The armies are coming. They are going to tear this city apart, and what did you do? You tore down houses, patched up the walls, brought the water in and killed animals and had a party. Drank wine and ate flesh.

And you said, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die."

This last sentence is a famous quotation but I doubt that many know where it came from, its Isaiah 22 and verse 13. You can try that in your next game of Trivial Pursuit.

Now what's happened here is that the Almighty has issued a call for repentance. That's weeping and mourning, that's letting the tears run down your face. It's fasting, it's humbling yourself before God. He calls for humility, which is implied by the shaving of the head and being bald and putting on of sackcloth and lying in the dust. What He is saying to them is, "Look, it's time for you to repent. Humble yourselves and call out to Me for help. So what do I get, "Well, let’s eat and drink, for tomorrow we are going to die. It is not going to do us any good to fight. It is probably not going to do us any good to repent, and besides that, repentance is probably too much trouble anyway.

There is a passage of Scripture not widely quoted and not well known in Jeremiah that I've always found it of interest in this phase, Jeremiah 18 verse11 says this, "Therefore, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, "Thus saith the Lord, "Behold, I frame evil against you and I devise a device against you, now turn everyone from his evil way and make your ways and your doings good.""

Now, is there any real trouble understanding what God is saying? God is saying, "I'm getting ready to come down on you. I'm getting ready to put a stop to all this nonsense, I'm fed up with what you have been doing, it's time for you to repent and turn from your evil ways. Make your ways and your doings good." Okay, I understand that. I can get that.

{12} "But they said, "There's no hope, we will walk after our own devices and we will just do the imagination of our evil heart." {13} "Therefore thus saith the Lord, "Ask you now among the heathen who have ever heard of such things. The Virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing."

Strange Perversity in Human Nature

You know there's a strange perversity in human nature, that tells us that there is no point in repentance. We say to ourselves, "Well I'm going to die, and might as well take my medicine. Well, God's turned off with me. God's angry with me, I guess He's going to destroy me and there's no hope.

They said, "There's no hope, we might as well go ahead and do what we've always been doing. What is it that makes us think this way? Is repentance too much work? Do we have such an image of God that He won't forgive us, that we're not even willing to seek that forgiveness or to put out the hand or ask for his mercy, or is it because of something we are not willing to give up in our lives? Is it that, we would rather believe that there is no hope, so we can keep doing what we have been doing, which we enjoy, or we want or we desire so very much.

The Unpardonable Sin

It's been very strange to me over the years in counseling with people, and talking to people who occasionally, not often, but occasionally come across someone who seems to want to believe that they have committed the unpardonable sin, and no amount of assurance of telling them, "Well, look the fact that you've come to me, the fact that you're talking about this, the fact that you're worried about this, tells me, "Oh no, you haven't committed the unpardonable sin, there's room for you to repent and turn around and be forgiven by God," and you tell them all these things and you quote scriptures and you work your way through it and they go away. Then they come back again and say, "I really believe I have committed the unpardonable sin."

One day, in talking to a lady like this, it suddenly dawned on me that she wanted to believe that she had committed the unpardonable sin, and the only way I was able to understand it was, the realization that what she wanted to continue doing, contrary to the will of God, was so important to her, she just couldn't face turning her life around.

And if it's this, why would we blame God for it, why would we turn around and paint God as an unforgiving monster who does not want to take away our sins, who does not want to forgive us, who's willing to bang us over the head for the least thing or to destroy us irrevocably for small sins that we commit.

For in truth, the reason why we don't want to repent, is not because we don't think God will forgive us really, it is because we don't want to give up whatever it is that we are doing.

Well, I've digressed, but I thought it was important to tell you that.

God Wants Repentance

Returning to Isaiah 22, "In that day the Lord of hosts will call for weeping and mourning, for baldness and for girding with sackcloth. {13} The result though will be joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep and partying, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we will die and {14} It was revealed in my years by the LORD of hosts. Surely this iniquity will not be purged from you till you die," says the Lord of hosts."

What iniquity is that He's talking about? It's the refusal to repent, to humble themselves and to turn their life around. That's all. The refusal to face up to the problem. The refusal to get a hold of yourself, the refusal to turn around and an tendency to say, "No, no, there's no use in trying to straighten out my life because God's against me anyway."

What About This Key of David?

But what about this Key of David that we started out talking about? What does that have to do with anything?

Continuing in Isaiah 22 in verse 15, "Thus saith the Lord God of hosts, go get you unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house and say, {16} "What do you have here? And whom do you have here, that you have cut you out a sepulcher here, that as he that hews him out a sepulcher on high, that gives a habitation for himself in the rock. Who are you?"

Now pause for a moment and understand, this is history. There is a person call Shebna, a treasurer, actually probably to get the feeling of what he really was, the word steward is more accurate. He was the steward over the royal house to whom the full authority of the royal house had been given. Now because of the fleeing of the leadership, because of the decay of leadership in the siege that they had gone through, this person had enormous power and he had assumed in that power that he was going to be a great one to such an extent that apparently he had carved himself out a tomb in the rocks around Jerusalem, and expected to be buried in and remembered down through the generations.

To this Shebna he says this, "Behold, the Lord will carry you away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover you, {18} He will surely violently turn and toss you like a ball into a large country. There you shall die, and there the chariots of your glory shall be the shame of your master’s house and I will drive you from your station.{19} I'll drive you from your office. I'll pull you down, {20} It shall come to pass in that day that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah."

Eliakim Comes on the Scene

Now another player comes on the scene. Remember we are looking at history, which is a model, a type, of something that is to come in the future. What is it a model of? What is it a type of? Who is this Eliakim? We know very little about him, historically, but actually it's not the historical Eliakim that is of special interest to us.

Isaiah 22 verse 20, "I will call my servant Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah. {21} I will clothe him with your robe and I will strengthen him with your belt and I will commit your government into his hand and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah."

This guy is going to take over Shebna’s place and he is going to be the steward of the royal household.

{22} "And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder, so he shall open and no one shall shut, he shall shut, and no one shall open."

So I begin to see then, the key of the household is the key that the steward carries around with him. He has big chain around his neck and a key hanging from it and that key is symbolic of his authority in the house. In fact, the authority of the steward of the king is very nearly absolute. In fact, no one, can open what he has closed or close what he has opened except for the king himself.

The key of the house of David is symbolic of the authority of the household, God is King. Christ is his steward. Christ has the key that belongs to the house of David, the opening and shutting is symbolic of divine or kingly authority, and the authority of Christ in God's house is absolute, only the Father can override Him!

Open Door to Preach the Gospel

"And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia write, "These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, "He that has the key of David, He who opens and no man shuts, and shuts and no man opens." {8} I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it, for you have a little strength, and have kept my word and have not denied my name."When Paul spoke of an open door (Colossians 4:3), he was talking about an opening to preach the gospel where it had not gone before, where it had not been spoken before, He said "a great and effectual door was open to us for carrying the gospel here, or carrying it there" and so it's a presumption when he says I have set before you an open door that somehow, he has laid before them an opportunity that is not going to allow anybody to shut down.

Now this was not a powerful church but they had a little strength and they had two important characteristics that went with this small strength that they had, they had kept Jesus’ word and they had not denied his name. The faithfulness to the things that Jesus said, is right at the core of it all.

It's handy, I suppose in a way, to have a red letter Bible, because you can sort of page through the gospel accounts and see specifically the places where Jesus spoke.

Build Your House Upon the Rock

Jesus says, (Matthew 7) "The man that has my words and keeps them. The man that has them and does them is like a man who built his house upon a rock. The man who has my words and doesn't do them, is like a man that built his house on the sand, when the floods came the house built on the sand fell. The house built on the rock stood."

Jesus in so many ways tried to impress upon people's minds the importance of hearing what He had to say and living their life by what He said.

Don’t Deny Christ’s Name

This church has been faithful to Jesus’ word and so when we come down to the end time, somewhere there will be people who are faithful to his word and have not denied his name, not being embarrassed by Him, and not ashamed of Him, not ready to turn their back on Christ. To deny his name is to deny Him. Now we make a big mistake in the 21st. century, when we think of someone's name, we think of a phonetic sound that falls upon the ear. My name is Ronald, well Ronald in our language doesn't mean anything. It is just a name, a sound that we equate with certain individuals, but in both Hebrew and Greek, these names, often times had specific meanings. Hebrew in particular, a name might well be a word that is in common use in the language elsewhere. They had to do with descriptive things, they had to do with a person's character and who he is and what he does, and so when you speak of being faithful to someone's name or doing something in someone's name, you're not just talking about the phonetic sound and it doesn't matter whether that name is pronounced in Hebrew, Greek or English. What matters is the reputation, the character, the being of the person we are talking about.

This group of people, the Church in Philadelphia, have not denied Him. Jesus said, whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God, but he that denies me before men shall be denied before the angels of God (Luke 12 verse eight).

So the confession of Christ, not only with your mouth, but with your life, is critical. It's so easy to say "Jesus is your Lord" and confess his name in our world today, because we are free, we can say whatever we please. What we sometimes forget is, that just saying it, is not enough. You have to live it.

Synagogue of Satan

"Behold," verse nine of Revelation 3, Jesus continues, "I will make them of the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews and are not but do lie. Behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you."

We talked earlier about this synagogue of Satan. This is not any synagogue anywhere, anytime. This is a particular group of people that were in Philadelphia and also in one of the other churches, and so consequently to use this to say that Jews are satanic or to say that synagogues are synagogues of Satan, which I suppose that someone somewhere has used as a justification for some of the atrocities that have been performed, it's wrong. It's wrong! It's simple anti-Semitism and meaningless. This is a thing that has to do with a group of people, who said they were Jews but who actually denied God in the process. Not all Jews have ever done that!

A Promise of Being Kept from the Great Tribulation

Verse 10 of Revelation 3, "Because you have kept the word of my patience, I will keep you from the hour of temptation, which will come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."

The implication here is that by patiently keeping his word, by enduring, by continuing, by working, we gain a promise of being kept from the great tribulation that is out there.

"Behold," {11} "I come quickly, hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown."

This is not the last of the seven churches and yet by implication, they will still be here when Christ returns. "I'm coming quickly," He says to them, "Hold on to what you have, so that no one can take away what you have."

{12} "To him that over cometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will go no more out and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from God, and I will write upon him my new name."

The Overcomer, the person who faces adversity, the person who faces the challenge, the person who enters the fight and wins, is the one to whom these great rewards go! To the winners go the glory!

Jesus says in verse 13, "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

The Church of the Laodiceans

Revelation 3 and verse 14, Jesus says, "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: "These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. {15} I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. {16} So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth."

What does it mean to be lukewarm? Jesus is obviously talking about the spiritual condition of these people. You have a church down the road, which is faithful and working and have not denied his name and have a little strength, and a few miles this way, you have a church that is lukewarm, not working.

He continues, perhaps to explain, {17} "Because you say, "I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and you don't know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked."

Well I'll tell you this, if I am wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked in a physical sense. I know it! When it is cold and we don't have a clothes on. This is talking about spiritual matters. You say, "I am rich and increased with goods," either spiritually or perhaps really rich or well-to-do.

Now this church is rather different from the others because by and large, in that day and time being a Christian kept you poor, because of the mere fact that you were discriminated against in everything that you're going to do.

But in this city they were doing just fine apparently and they were pleased with themselves.

Now they were saying "I am rich, and increased with goods" could be a claim to some sort of spiritual righteousness or spiritual goodness.

But Jesus says, "You don't know your wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked!"

And so I have to ask, why would one have to be told, and why would I have to be told? Maybe, I think I'm doing just fine. But God doesn't think I'm doing fine it all.

You know physical wealth is power and power is a trap, because you'll come to rely on that power, instead of relying on the power of God.

Jesus continued to say in verse 18, "I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be truly rich."

Gold tried in the fire means, in the fire of tribulation. You have to go through a little trouble in this life, and in the process it burns away those things about you that shouldn't be there.

Also Jesus said, "Buy yourself some white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your spiritual nakedness does not appear, and anoint your eyes with eye salve so that you can see for a change. {19} As many as I love, I rebuke and I chasten."

It is that chastening actually, that is the fire that produces the gold, that Christ wants to see in us.

"Be zealous," Jesus said, "and repent. {20} Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine and eat with him and he with me."

You know the way back to God is not so very far. It just involves opening the door, humble yourself and REPENT!

Until next time, this is Ronald Dart reminding you, "You were Born to Win!"


This article was transcribed with

minor editing from a Born to Win Radio Program by: Ronald L. Dart

Titled: The Book of Revelation -Program #7

Transcribed by: bb 10-15-23

Ronald L. Dart was an evangelist and is heard daily and weekly on his Born to Win radio program. 
The program can be heard on over one hundred radio stations across the nation.

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