“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” (Rev. 3:7).
The church at Philadelphia is next, and is a church that is simply praised and encouraged. They had done well, and are not admonished for any significant sin. The words to the angel of the church at Philadelphia are words from the one who is identified as “holy” and as “true.” So this continues as a series of messages to the churches from the Lord Jesus.
This opening greeting to the church also contains a messianic reference from a prophecy by Isaiah. A man named Shebna had been comptroller during the reign of Hezekiah. He was a prideful man, and because of this was ejected from his place (Is. 22:15-25). He had built himself a very fancy sepulcher, which Isaiah mocked, and the lintel of which now occupies a place in the British Museum. Shebna was a conceited man who had removed a godly man named Eliakim from his place. Shebna was likely a traitor, or some kind of double-dealer, a man with secret communications with Judah’s enemies. Ambrose Bierce calls a mausoleum the final and funniest folly of the rich, and in this case at least, God agreed. He was building a grand memory for himself in a country he was betraying, and God promised that he would be hauled off to die somewhere else.
After Shebna had received his comeuppance, Eliakim was placed in Shebna’s role. There, as a faithful steward, the key of the house of David would be laid upon his shoulder. When he opened something, no one could shut it. When he shut and locked something, no one could open it. He would be permanently settled. As such, this Eliakim is a type of the Lord Jesus. Jesus is the steward of all human history, having replaced a treacherous steward, that is, the devil.
Because the key was in the possession of the Lord Jesus, the opening for the church at Philadelphia was a true opening, and would remain such.