Philadelphia is the smallest and the least significant of the seven towns and cities receiving letters from the Risen Christ in the book of Revelation. The church too was weak and struggling. But there is no criticism for the fact that they have little strength. Instead this letter is full of reassurance that our weakness counts for nothing and God’s strength counts for everything. God is on the throne. God is in control. For that reason this is the letter which perhaps has the most to say to us here in North Springfield Baptist Church. We may feel we have little strength. But that doesn’t matter! Because whatever challenges we may face, God is on the throne! Jesus Christ is Lord! And whenever we feel weak we should remember that He is strong!
v.7 These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.
We can depend on the one who is holy and true and totally trustworthy! Jesus is
HIM WHO HOLDS THE KEY OF DAVID
Here is a title from the promises of the Old Testament, especially from the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 20 20 ‘In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. 21 I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the people of Judah. 22 I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 23 I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a seat of honour for the house of his father. 24 All the glory of his family will hang on him ..
The key to the house of David – a figure of authority and power. What he opens no one can shut and what he shuts no one can open.
Isaiah 26 1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts.
2 Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith.
3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
4 Trust in the LORD for ever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.
The one who holds the Key of David is the one who opens the door to the Holy City and to God’s salvation. And this is fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah who opens the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers and holds the keys of Death and Hades, the key to eternal life.
Revelation 1 17 ….. ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
Jesus is the one who holds all authority and power. And He is always with us.
Matthew 28 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. ,,,, And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
Jesus is the One who holds the Key of David. And more than that,
What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
It is the Lord Jesus Christ who opens the door to heaven and the door to eternal life. And NO ONE can close the door He has opened. God has opened the door to heaven for His children and NO ONE can keep us out!
But there is another door which the New Testament speaks about, and which this Letter may be pointing to. The open door for the gospel – the door which Jesus opens and which no one can shut. Paul talks about that door in 1 Corinthians 16 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
And again in 2 Corinthians 2 12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me,
And Pauls prays for such a door for the gospel in Colossians 4 2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
Paul is praying for opportunities to preach the gospel – an open door which no one can shut! We need to keep on praying that God will open doors for the gospel in North Springfield. As we reach out to the community with Christ’s love and the message of Jesus. Through Toddlers and Café and Drop In. Through our services and special events. Through the conversations we have with friends and neighbours as we gossip the gospel. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ. … 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
This idea of an open door for the gospel may have been in John’s mind as he described the vision of Christ he had experiences to the church at Philadelphia.
8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.
When Christ opens a door for the gospel nobody and nothing can close it! The church was struggling. They felt that they were weak. But they were still remaining faithful to God. Unlike some of the other churches we have read about, they weren’t giving in to the pressures to compromise their faith. Despite persecution they were standing firm and hanging on in there.
I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
They remained faithful because they trusted that God was in control. God’s people in every age are called to be His witnesses to an unbelieving world.
Isaiah 43 10 ‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.
11 I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no saviour.
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed – I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘that I am God.
13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?’
Whatever may happen in our lives, God is in control. Jesus Christ is Lord of all. And he has opened the door which no one can shut! The call is to remain faithful to God, even in
THE TIME OF TRIAL
The Church in Philadelphia were called to be witnesses for Christ even as persecution was coming.
9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
As we endure patiently whatever may come our way, God will give the victory. God will defend and protect us in times of trial and adversity and testing and even persecution. We may have little strength, but His grace will always be sufficient for our weaknesses.
2 Corinthians 12:7 I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
We can too easily put our trust in the wrong things. In our hard work. In our lovely premises. In our riches. In our warm fellowship. The church in Philadelphia were putting their trust in God. They expressed that faith through keeping God’s word and not denying the name of Christ and enduring patiently and holding firmly on to what God had given them. When we put our trust in Him, God’s grace will always be sufficient for our weaknesses. And Christ will open doors for the gospel as we acknowledge our weaknesses and put our trust in His strength. And as ever this Letter has wonderful promises for Christians who are victorious because hold tightly on to God to the end,.
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.
13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.