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We have had two references to Israel's history, and now we are to have two references to Judah's, and these refer, not any more to failure, sin and judgment; but to the hope of restoration and blessing.
As Ahab, king of Israel, was the first to introduce and establish the Asherah worship, so the reference here, in the Epistle to the assembly of Philadelphia, is to Hezekiah, king of Judah, who did much to destroy it and cast it out.
In 2 Chron. xxxi. 1, Hezekiah "brake in pieces the pillars (marg. obelisks), and hewed down the Asherim" (R.V.).
His two predecessors, like himself, are described with special reference to their connection with the Temple and with the Temple worship. Indeed, these three kings of Judah are linked together as being three of the four reigns in which Isaiah prophesied, namely, "Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah" (Isa. i. 2).
Jotham "entered not into the temple of the Lord" (2 Chron. xxvii. 2).
Ahaz "shut up the doors of the house of the Lord" (2 Chron. xxviii. 24).
Hezekiah, at the beginning of his reign, "in the first year, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the Lord" (2 Chron. xxix. 3).
In Isa. xxii. 22 there is a further reference to this point. Shebna, the Treasurer, had misused his trust for his own glorification (see Isa. xxii. 15-19). On this account he was ordered to be deposed, by Divine command, and "the key of the house of David" was laid upon the shoulder of Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah (vers. 20-25): "And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so the shall open, and none shall shut, and he shall shut, and none shall open" (ver. 22).
Eliakim means God will raise up: and there can be no doubt whatever that we have here a prophetic reference to Christ, whom God would raise up. Indeed, the whole passage (vers. 20-25) reads more like prophecy than history; and points very distinctly forward to the Temple which He Himself will build, and will fill with His glory.
It is remarkable to notice how, in writing to this Assembly in Philadelphia (Rev. iii. 7), the Lord takes these very words and applies them to Himself, saying: "These things saith he... that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth."
The reference here to Isa. xxii. 22 is unmistakable, and it is clear that we have a reference to another and subsequent, but closely connected, event in the Old Testament history.
With this reference we can understand the announcement to the Assembly of Philadelphia in Rev. iii. 8: "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it."
And we can understand also the reference to the Temple in the promise, "I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out" (Rev. iii. 12).
We are taken right on, beyond Jerusalem and its Temple, to the days of final blessing, even to the new Jerusalem and "the Temple of my God," when Isa . lxii. 2 shall be fulfilled: "And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name."
When this is exactly what is promised in Rev. iii. 12, "I will write upon him my new name," it is difficult to understand how such a promise could ever have been diverted from Israel to the Church: taken away from what it is directly associated with; and applied to that with which it has no connection whatsoever.
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