KEYS IN SCRIPTURE
Revelation 1:18--"I AM He that lives, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the KEYS of hell and of death.”
Before I explain the KEYS of hell and death, and what those KEYS mean for us, I’ll offer a bit of background research. In the scripture, we see a VARIETY of KEYS. Each shows a special FOCUS and APPLICATION.
In the FIRST part of Revelation 1:18, Jesus speaks of His life, His death, and behold, He is INDEED alive forevermore! He’s talking about the life He lived, NOT ONLY on earth as the Son of Man, but about His life from ETERNITY PAST. He lived in ETERNITY as the second Person of the Trinity. He lived on earth in the body of a PERFECT SINLESS Man, and in that place FOR US, He was crucified and died. But behold, LOOK closely, Jesus is ALIVE forevermore! He is RESURRECTED from the dead! He’s ALIVE for ALL of ETERNITY FUTURE! Jesus then sums up His statement with “Amen”--a word which means "SO BE IT" and "VERILY, IT IS SO." In other words, IT'S TRUE! When JESUS says it’s TRUE, it's VERY CERTAINLY TRUE, because, as God, Jesus CANNOT LIE!
Now, let's look at ALL the KEYS that are in Jesus’ possession.
The CONCEPT of someone having KEYS shows this: A person with a set of keys has the MEANS and the POWER--which is the ABILITY, and THE RIGHT, to OPEN something which is locked, and to LOCK something which is open.
NOT everyone has KEYS to certain places. For instance, we have KEYS to our CARS, and our HOUSES, but THOSE KEYS are NOT AVAILABLE to everyone else. The public, as a whole, HAS NO RIGHT to use our vehicles or to enter our homes. Only we POSSESS that RIGHT--by the KEYS we hold.
If we GIVE our KEYS to someone else, we have given THOSE PEOPLE the AUTHORITY, and the RIGHT, to ACCESS our personal possessions and USE them. We would certainly MAKE SURE that the PEOPLE who receive our KEYS are TRUSTWORTHY. We'd feel, by their actions and character, that they were HONEST and RELIABLE people.
Jesus has the RIGHT to a SET OF KEYS through His selfless ACT in His DEATH and RESURRECTION. The CHURCH has been GIVEN the RIGHT to a SET OF KEYS--NOT by our OWN works--but through our BELIEF and TRUST in Jesus, demonstrated by our FAITH (our actions)--showing that we KNOW WHO He is and WHAT He's done for us.
There are a variety of KEYS mentioned in the Bible. We’ll take the time to consider these KEYS, to see WHO has them, and to determine WHAT they OPEN or LOCK.
There's a KEY to the house of David:
Isaiah 22:21-22--“And I will clothe him (Eliakim) with your robe, and strengthen him with your girdle, and I will COMMIT your GOVERNMENT into his hand…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”
This verse speaks of both the OPPORTUNITY and the AUTHORITY to rule. The KEY of the "house of David" gives the RIGHT for a person to SIT upon DAVID'S THRONE, to assume David's KINGSHIP and RULE, to decree EDICTS and LAWS, to GOVERN in Israel.
Jesus Christ is prophesied in many places TO SIT upon the THRONE OF DAVID. This speaks of that future time in THE MILLENNIUM when Jesus will REIGN upon Israel’s throne, the throne which belonged to King David. Jesus gets His BLOODLINE through David, by way of HIS MOTHER, Mary (who descended from David's son, Nathan), and therefore Jesus is qualified to SIT on David's throne. Jesus has yet another RIGHT to the throne, through His stepfather, Joseph (who descends from David--through Solomon). It's through Joseph that Jesus has the LEGAL AUTHORITY to ASSUME David’s throne. (There's quite a story in the HISTORY of these TWO GENEALOGIES of Jesus--one from Luke and the other from Matthew. Later, in our study of Revelation 12, I'll go into more detail, and you'll see WHY it happened that way.)
We see added understanding about the KEY OF DAVID in the letter to the Church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:7.
“And to the angel at the church of Philadelphia write; These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the KEY OF DAVID, He that OPENS and no man shuts, and SHUTS and no man opens.”
Again, Jesus, sitting on the THRONE OF DAVID, possesses the KEY of David. Jesus has the RIGHT to David’s throne. Jesus has the AUTHORITY to open or shut.
This truth, as we apply it to Philadelphia, is the OPPORTUNITY for a FAITHFUL and TRUE Church to share the Gospel. (Remember that Philadelphia represents a CHURCH ERA that POWERFULLY and WIDELY shares the Gospel throughout the world--a Church who ACTIVELY rules and reigns with Jesus--in this life--as He directs.) In some cases, the THE DOOR of opportunity is CLOSED, but at other times, the DOOR is OPEN. Trying to OPEN a door which is SHUT is to BAT OUR HEADS AGAINST A WALL--showing we're not listening to Jesus, Who is our Head. Jesus Christ, Who RULES supreme in the Churches, is THE ONE who opens and shuts the doors--our part is to listen carefully and obey how He leads and directs. All witnessing originates with Him!
There's a KEY in scripture which is seen in a more negative light.
In Revelation 9:1-2, we see a KEY to the BOTTOMLESS PIT--which is the ABYSS, the lowest compartment of HELL. This spot is most likely the place mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4-5 (please read it)--which uses the Greek word "TARTARUS"--another term used for the UNDERWORLD of hell. It's the BOTTOMLESS PIT of hell.
We see that a KEY is GIVEN to a STAR who FALLS from heaven. WHO gives the KEY to that STAR? (The scripture doesn't say, but we can do some discerning.) Since this happens in THE MIDST of Revelation's TRUMPET JUDGMENTS, we can assume that THE ONE in CONTROL of the judgments is THE ONE Who GIVES the KEY. From WHERE do the judgments come? From God's Throne in heaven. Who has KEYS? We know Jesus has keys. Then why does Jesus GIVE His KEY to that STAR? Because, for a moment, Jesus grants permission to the STAR to open the BOTTOMLESS PIT (for a JUDGMENT purpose).
Who is that STAR, which FELL from heaven, who opens the BOTTOMLESS PIT? We get a very uncomfortable, creepy sensation when we remember that Jesus said He SAW Lucifer, Satan, FALL as a STAR from heaven. Luke 10:18. Isaiah 14:12.
So why is the BOTTOMLESS PIT opened at the sounding of the 5th trumpet?
According to 2 Peter 2:4-5 and Jude 6, we see that the Lord had already LOCKED up some very horrible and wicked angels in the THE BOTTOMLESS PIT. These evil entities were ACTIVE in the world BEFORE the FLOOD in Noah's day. Genesis 6:1-6. In Revelation 9, a KEY--and with it, the AUTHORITY is GIVEN--so that the devil can RELEASE those terribly wicked angels upon the world in the Great Tribulation. (This is another subject upon which I'll give a more in-depth teaching, when we get to Revelation 9 and 12.)
[When we UNDERSTAND that the lowest region of hell will be emptied in the Great Tribulation, it's a STRONG reason to NOT WANT to be on earth during that HORRENDOUS TIME! It reminds me of what Jesus warned in Matthew 24--"as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be AGAIN in the days of the Son of man"--those days of JUDGMENT which ENDS in Jesus' Second Coming. Many people have NO IDEA of how horrible the Tribulation time will really be! If the days were NOT shortened, nothing would survive!]
Let's turn to a more pleasant picture of KEYS: In Matthew 16:19, we see that the CHURCH is given KEYS to the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
“And I will give unto you THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: and WHATSOEVER you shalt BIND on earth shall be BOUND in heaven: and WHATSOEVER you shalt LOOSE on earth shall be LOOSED in heaven.”
The POSSESSION of this KEY, in the CONTEXT of this passage, gives THE CHURCH tremendous POWER and AUTHORITY. With a KEY like this, the CHURCH has the POWER to OVERCOME. The gates of hell CANNOT stand against the POWER OF JESUS--which is DELEGATED to the Church--THROUGH HIM. We have THE AUTHORITY to BIND the works of Satan and evil. We have THE AUTHORITY to LOOSE the blessings of God and His promises.
In Matthew 18:18, the concept of BINDING and LOOSING is repeated. In that CONTEXT, the BINDING and LOOSING refers to THE AUTHORITY in the Church to conduct Church discipline. Jesus has NOT left us POWERLESS upon this world. With the mighty KEY of the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, we have the ABILITY to OVERCOME! And it's ALL through the POWER of Jesus!
Now, let's turn our attention back to Revelation 1:18. Here, we see that Jesus POSSESSES the KEYS of HELL and DEATH. There’s tremendous VICTORY within that picture! By His death and resurrection, Jesus has TRIUMPHED over hell and death! FOR US!
When mankind fell into sin, Satan grabbed dominion over the earth--something that God had INTENDED to be man's position. Satan (through man's sin) kept people under the plague of death and hell, holding them captive. But praise be to JESUS! In John 10:10, we see--"The thief (Satan) comes to STEAL and to KILL and to destroy: I (Jesus) am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
When Jesus died and rose again for the sins of mankind, He STRIPPED the devil of his hold over mankind through hell and death. Colossians 2:14-15--God, through Jesus, forgives us of all our trespasses, having "Blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. And having SPOILED (which is to strip) principalities and powers, He made a SHOW of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
By His death and resurrection, Jesus RELEASED mankind from CAPTIVITY to the evil one--so that we'd NO LONGER be PRISONERS to him in sin and DEATH. He GAVE people the OPPORTUNITY to be SET FREE and to have the VICTORY. (The CHOICE always remains with EACH INDIVIDUAL to ACCEPT or REJECT what Jesus has given.)
Here’s the resounding words of Jesus in John 11:25-26:
“I am the RESURRECTION and the LIFE: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, YET SHALL HE LIVE, and WHOSOEVER lives and believes in Me SHALL NEVER DIE.”
Jesus, by holding the KEYS over death and hell, has made it so those things will NOT harm us. By our faith in Jesus, even if we should DIE a natural death (before the Rapture), we’ll NOT be held captive to that death. We'll go immediately to the Lord in the spirit, and when the time is ready, our bodies will be resurrected (at the SAME TIME those of us who remain ALIVE in the Church are Raptured). By our faith in Jesus, we will NEVER experience the horrors of hell. Jesus has the KEYS to those places--and He has set us free!
Isn’t that the most blessed GOOD news?
Let's give Jesus all the praise and honor--for He is indeed WORTHY of it.