Herbert W. Armstrong made some fascinating comments about a prophecy in Zechariah. Those comments help us to understand more deeply what the key of the house of David is.
“The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first [in the latter days—now just ahead of us], that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah. In that day [now soon to come] … he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel [messenger] of the Lord before them. … And I will pour upon the house of David … the spirit of grace …” (Zechariah 12:7-10).
Here is what Mr. Armstrong wrote about those verses: “Plainly the apostle (one sent forth—or messenger of God) God would use in these perilous last days would be of the house of David. The house of David is NOT one of the tribes—but those individuals descended from David.
“I have mentioned that some years ago I was contacted by a foundation, formed for the purpose of maintaining the genealogy of a certain family. My great-grandfather Armstrong, who had a biblical name, father of my grandfather Nathan Armstrong, had married into this family. So the foundation has my genealogy back to the kings of France, and King Edward i of England. The genealogy of the royal family of Britain carries every generation back to King David of ancient Israel. Therefore God has preserved my ancestry every generation from David, and I am ofTHE HOUSE OF DAVID!
“Plainly, in these tumultuous last days, God would raise up one who would know he is of the house of David, as Christ’s chosen apostle and messenger to the kings of the Earth, to carry the true message of Christ’s gospel, which was suppressed from the world from midcentury 1 to the middle of the 20th century” (Good News, May 1980; emphasis mine throughout).
I had a similar experience to what Mr. Armstrong had in tracing my genealogy back to King David. My aunt gave me what she and others had done to compile our family genealogy. It cost me $50 just to copy the typed material. There was one significant difference between my genealogy and Mr. Armstrong’s. My genealogy was traced back to the royal family of Ireland. The genealogy of the royal family of Ireland is one single dynasty, which also carries “every generation back to King David.”
So I can say what Mr. Armstrong said, “Therefore God has preserved my ancestry every generation from David, and I am of the house of David!”
All of God’s new revelation for His end-time Church has come through Mr. Armstrong and me. God’s Work has been done through supporters of that revelation.
Here is another statement Mr. Armstrong made, this one in his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy: “Of course it is well understood that the scepter went to Judah and was handed down through the Jews. King David was of the tribe of Judah. All succeeding kings of David’s dynasty were of the house of David, tribe of Judah. Jesus Christ was born of the house of David and the tribe of Judah.”
Christ was also a descendant of David, or of the house of David. So we can see a lot of emphasis placed on the house of David in these verses.
At an archaeological dig in Jerusalem, Herbert W. Armstrong College students have helped to uncover David’s palace. We are clearing debris away from that site. We believe that Christ will rule from the very spot where David did anciently. We are getting ready for the imminent return of Christ!
That is the majestic conclusion of the succession of kings that was prophesied to sit on David’s throne!
The palace adds a most royal dimension to the house of David. David’s palace was where the throne was located when David ruled. So David’s palace is a powerful symbol of David’s house, with the emphasis on the dynasty of kings from David to the Second Coming of Christ!
Jesus Christ will share that headquarters throne with the very elect—spiritual Jews (Revelation 3:9, 21). We are getting ready to rule on that throne at our Jerusalem headquarters with Christ and God the Father forever!
We can clearly see that the highest royalty in God’s Kingdom revolves around the throne of David.
The Key to the House of David
There are only two places in the Bible where the key of David is mentioned: Revelation 3:7 and Isaiah 22:22. However, in Isaiah 22:22 it is called the key to the house of David.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah” (Isaiah 22:20). Two names are mentioned here. Eliakim is doing God’s Work in this prophecy. He is the son of Hilkiah.
The timeline is “in that day,” which always refers to this end time. So we are spiritually blind if we don’t understand these prophecies.
“And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah” (verse 21). The government of God was passed from Mr. Armstrong, a type of Hilkiah (a Jew), to my office, typed by Eliakim (a Jew).
“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” (verse 22). There is an open door mentioned with the key of David. That means there is always a powerful work associated with that key.
There are three personalities mentioned in these verses: Hilkiah, Eliakim and the person from whom the robe, girdle and government were taken. His Bible name is Shebna (verse 15). They all appear “in that day”—or the end time.
Christ told the Jews that He personally sent prophets to them. But the Jews often persecuted them and made His messengers flee. Many of them were even killed.
So no matter what people think, God does send personalities through whom He does His Work. We can’t understand these prophecies unless we know who these men are. Today they are types of those historical figures.
These three personalities are thoroughly discussed in my free booklet Who Is ‘That Prophet’?
Eliakim today is “a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.” Eliakim could only be a spiritual father today. So these verses are primarily speaking to us spiritually.
These “inhabitants of Jerusalem” are members of God’s Church.
Eliakim is also the father of “the house of Judah”—not the inhabitants of Judah. That means Eliakim is the father of a work in Judah. And it all revolves around the scepter promises.
Look again at the prophecy in Genesis 49:10. It reads, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” From verse 1, we can understand that this entire passage is for the “last days”—the time we are living in now. So, in the last days, God said there would be a scepter, or a ruler on David’s throne, at the same time there is a lawgiver, who has a message about David’s throne.
Concerning the scepter promise, we have always believed it refers to a kingly line that would rule from the time of David right up to the Second Coming of the Messiah. The scepter also refers to the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Verse 10 refers to a lawgiver from between Judah’s feet. The Companion Bible says this lawgiver comes “from between his feet,” which means he is to come from Judah’s descendants.
There is to be a scepter and a lawgiver in the “last days.” The lawgiver is a Jew who is here when Christ returns.
This is the same twofold covenant referred to in Jeremiah 33:17-18: “For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want [or lack] a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel [the scepter promise]; Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man [the lawgiver] before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually [a type of spiritual sacrifices].”
The coronation chair of the kingly line of the tribe of Judah continues to this day in Westminster Abbey in London. God said in Genesis 49:10 that a lawgiver would parallel that scepter promise, which continues until Christ returns.
Traditionally, we have believed this lawgiver to be Christ. In principle, that is true. Christ always gives the law. He is the source. But notice, the scripture says this lawgiver would not depart from Judah’s feet “until Shiloh [Christ] come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Would it make sense to read that Jesus would not depart from Judah’s feet until Jesus come?
Shiloh refers to Christ, so this “lawgiver” must refer to another individual. God has always worked through one man at a time. Again, Jeremiah 33:18 says that God would choose one man to fulfill this commission. Since this prophecy about the lawgiver was not revealed to me until after Mr. Armstrong died, it specifically refers to my office today.
Mr. Armstrong had to establish God’s law and government. He was the Elijah who restored all things just before Christ’s return (Matthew 17:10-11). I have continued the same law and government that he taught. No other church can truthfully make that claim!
Mr. Armstrong and I each have been used to fill the role of lawgiver to God’s Church and the world. So today, where is the human lawgiver descended from David and the tribe of Judah? Who administers the same law that Christ will teach when He returns to sit on that throne of David? Those are questions you must be able to answer!
This man will be teaching about the scepter—the kingly line, or David’s throne, and the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ. It is the same throne that is about to be taken over by Jesus Christ forever (Luke 1:30-33).
In these last days, the kingly line, David’s throne, is not governed by God’s law. But the true Church is ruled by Christ, that great Lawgiver—the King of kings who shall rule on David’s throne forever.
The Scepter Promises
Here is what Mr. Armstrong wrote in The United States and Britain in Prophecy: “Now we come to a most vital distinction, and a bit of Bible truth known to but a very few. Very few, indeed, have ever noticed that the promises to Abraham were twofold. But the Bible itself makes sharp distinction between these two phases of the promises.
“The spiritual promises—the promises of the ‘one seed,’ Christ, and of salvation through Him—the Bible calls the scepter. But the material and national promises relating to many nations, national wealth, prosperity and power, and possession of the Holy Land, the Bible calls the birthright.
“Let us understand the meaning of the terms:
“‘Birthright: native right or privilege’—Standard Dictionary; ‘any right acquired by birth’—Webster’s. A birthright is something which is one’s right, by birth. It has nothing to do with grace, which is unmerited pardon and a free gift which is not one’s right. It has to do with race, not grace. Birthright possessions are customarily passed down from father to eldest son.
“‘Scepter: kingly office; royal power; badge of command or sovereignty’—Standard Dictionary. The promised kingly line culminates in Christ, and involves grace to all.
“We have seen how both sets of promises, right of birth and gift of grace, were unconditionally made by God to Abraham. Both the birthright and the scepter were repromised by the Eternal to Isaac and to Jacob. But the fact that should open your eyes, as a joyous truth newly discovered, is that from that point these two sets of promises became separated! The scepter promises of the kingly line culminating in Christ, and of grace through Him, were handed on to Judah, son of Jacob and father of all Jews. But the astonishing truth is that the birthright promises were never given to the Jews!
“Let that be repeated! Realize this! The birthright promises were never given to the Jews!
“Turn to these passages—read them in your own Bible!
“‘The sceptre shall not depart from Judah …’ (Genesis 49:10).
“‘[B]ut the birthright was Joseph’s’ (1 Chronicles 5:2).
“Of course it is well understood that the scepter went to Judah and was handed down through the Jews. King David was of the tribe of Judah. All succeeding kings of David’s dynasty were of the house of David, tribe of Judah. Jesus Christ was born of the house of David and the tribe of Judah.”
The Jews received the scepter promise. What an honor! Could any race be honored more? We must tell the Jews what it should mean to them. It’s one thing to know about the scepter promises. It’s quite another to have them handed down through your race!
We must make these promises real and practical to ourselves and to the Jews.
God commissioned the end-time Eliakim to be “a father … to the house of Judah.” God wants us to emphasize the scepter promise that comes through the Jews. The kingly line of Jews leads us to the return of the Messiah. And not only that, the rule from David’s throne continues forever! (Isaiah 9:7).
The Jewish nation, America and Britain need to hear that most inspiring and precious message now so they can remember it when they are experiencing the holocaust of all holocausts!
Think about all those kings from the house of David who sat on David’s throne. They will continue doing so until Christ returns, which is extremely imminent. The Father, Christ and His angelic helpers are surely already well into planning and organizing for the Second Coming!
Why do I say that? Already Christ has used His Church to help uncover David’s palace, which is a symbol of all those kings that are to sit on that throne. We are helping to clear away the debris from where David’s throne sat in the past; that throne will surely be sitting on the same spot when Christ returns! We are helping to get that area ready for Christ’s imminent return! All those kings who sat on David’s throne lead us to that awe-inspiring point. It’s all about the Second Coming and Christ giving grace to all mankind who has ever lived—with the assistance of His Bride!
That is what our archaeological dig is all about.
This is a key part of why Eliakim is the father of Judah. The Eliakim work plays the crucial role for God today.
Behold Your God!
We are going to say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:9). The archaeology project will lead to the delivering of that message. And because the Jewish nation will not heed the warning, it is going to experience the Tribulation holocaust.
Hopefully, many Jews will still repent.
Now the Jews must hear about these scepter promises. Salvation for the whole world is on the immediate horizon. We must put more and more emphasis on the scepter promises. The kingly line has continued for about 3,000 years to its grand smashing climax—the Second Coming of Christ!
The Messiah is about to return with His reward for His loyal saints (verse 10). That illustrious, mind-stirring moment is almost here—at last!
Let’s read Isaiah 22:22 again: “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.” God gives the key of the house of David to Eliakim. That would seem to strongly indicate that he is of the house of David, or in the lineage of King David.
That gives us a constant reminder of the kingly line that sits on David’s throne from the time of David until Christ returns. Then the world will be filled with spiritual blessings!
That is why God gives an open door to this Work. We have a universe-shaking message to deliver to all mankind!
There is also a reason why God’s saints today are kings and priests in embryo (Revelation 1:6). We are getting ready to help Christ rule this world and the universe!
We are the Bride of Jesus Christ. God’s primary interest is in spiritual Jews (Revelation 3:9)—not physical Jews! Only about 5 percent of Christ’s Church today—the spiritual Jews—will rule in the Jerusalem headquarters forever. The stakes are lofty.
God wants us to think mainly about spiritual Jews (comprised of all races) who will help Christ teach grace from headquarters—who will share His Jerusalem headquarters throne forever.
God has given me a commission and supporters to do a work in Judah. Our archaeological dig is a constant reminder that God is finally about to sit on David’s throne!
We are to “say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!”
The Key of the House of David
I went to Ambassador College in 1967. That was the year the Six Day War broke out in Israel, in which God intervened miraculously to help Israel win. In that war, Israel gained control of the whole of Jerusalem.
The very next year, the Israelis began what they called the “Big Dig”—a massive archaeological excavation on the southern part of what the Jews call the Temple Mount. The year after that, Herbert W. Armstrong formed a partnership with Dr. Benjamin Mazar and Hebrew University in order to assist with that dig. Within two years, Ambassador College had 78 students over there helping, and Dr. Mazar was asking Mr. Armstrong to triple that number.
In the October 1971 issue of Tomorrow’s World magazine, an article about developments on the dig said this: “[I]n 1967, after the unification of Jerusalem, the archaeological institutions of Israel began considering the feasibility of a full-scale excavation of the entire Southern Wall area. With encouragement by the mayor of Jerusalem and the Israel Exploration Society, the present ‘Big Dig’ was launched in 1968, headed by Prof. Binyamin Mazar. …
“In the first winter recess, Ambassador College entered into the project jointly with Hebrew University and the Department of Antiquities. Beginning December of 1968, Ambassador began providing financial assistance to put the project on a full-time continuous basis, and in 1969 began to provide summertime student manpower. Work has continued unbroken since that time.”
At the time of that dig, there was a young girl there with her grandfather, and she was getting very well acquainted and deeply impressed with Mr. Armstrong and the Ambassador College students. She grew up to be an archaeologist herself. Now she directs what we believe to be the most important archaeological dig in the world!
Benjamin Mazar’s granddaughter, Eilat Mazar, has since told me that her grandfather was very concerned at the beginning about whether or not it was a good idea to get so deeply involved with a Christian organization from the United States. But of course, he soon became very happy that he did.
This 1971 Tomorrow’s World described what Ambassador College discovered in the first three years of its partnership with Benjamin Mazar. We have been helping with Eilat Mazar’s dig for two years. So this article gives an interesting basis of comparison.
In the year before the Ambassadors got there, that dig identified a large Ommiad (Arab) palace. The next year, with the Ambassadors’ help, they uncovered the foundations of a staircase from King Herod’s time that led to the Temple Mount, and they found rock tombs. During the third year of this partnership, they found another Ommiad structure and “an impressive Herodian staircase that once led up to the well-known ‘Hulda Double Gates.’”
In less time, Eilat Mazar has found the walls of David’s palace. That is an amazing discovery, especially considering there are many scholars who say that David and Solomon were unimportant tribal chieftains. One of these walls is 15 feet thick and 100 feet long! Along with several other artifacts, some of which are biblically relevant, we have also discovered Nehemiah’s wall. The Philadelphia Church of God has a special connection to Nehemiah. We have a booklet showing how the events of Nehemiah’s time apply prophetically to our time today (request a free copy of Ezra and Nehemiah—Building God’s Temple).
Look at the difference in interest between what they found during Mr. Armstrong’s day and what we are finding today! God has truly blessed our efforts in a special way. There is an important prophetic reason for that, as we will see.
Under Mr. Armstrong, there was a lot of excitement in God’s Church about the archaeological dig in Jerusalem. But when he died in 1986, that excitement fizzled. The Laodiceans showed they had no interest in the dig, or even in Jerusalem.
Dr. Benjamin Mazar died in 1995. What would have happened to that great project if his granddaughter hadn’t decided to continue it?
Actually, it goes deeper than that. Dr. Eilat Mazar is being used in an amazing way to uncover the palace of David and the wall of Nehemiah—but it is really God resurrecting this project and raising up the ruins. And today, God’s faithful remnant Church is reviving the excitement and the understanding God has given us about that dig.
Do you know why we are involved in that project? What is it about? Is God really behind it?
An Ominous Sign
In that same Tomorrow’s World issue, Ernest Martin wrote an article called “Jerusalem Through the Ages.” The subhead read, “Ever since David made it his capital some 3,000 years ago, Jerusalem has been a ‘cup of trembling’ and a ‘burdensome stone’ to all nations.” He briefly discussed the city before the time of King David, and then showed how David conquered it. “Once David had secured this fortress, he adopted it as his capital city, naming it the City of David. Because of the site’s majestic appearance and its towering eminence, he also called it Zion (a city resembling the impenetrable fortress of God in the heavens). The ark of God was then transported to this elevated citadel.”
Now notice this inspiring conclusion to Dr. Martin’s article: “In Zechariah 14, there is a prophecy telling us that ‘living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea [the Dead Sea], and half of them toward the hinder sea [the Mediterranean Sea]: in summer and in winter it shall be’ (verse 8). These streams will appear once this major topographical change takes place in the area of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives, just to the east of Jerusalem, will be split into two separate mountains and a valley will be formed between them (verse 4). Then, apparently at the same time, a further topographical change takes place. ‘All the land [near Jerusalem] shall be turned as a plain [leveled out] from Geba [5 miles north of Jerusalem] to Rimmon south of Jerusalem [about 30 miles south]: and it [Jerusalem itself] shall be lifted up [a large mountain will rise on the site of Jerusalem], and [Jerusalem shall be] inhabited in her [usual] place’ (verse 10).
“Jerusalem will become a new ‘Mount Zion’ around which the redeemed tribes of Israel will gather (Jeremiah 31:6-9). On this mount will be built a new city. Streams will issue from a new temple which will be there (Joel 3:18). The Prophet Ezekiel further tells us that the eastern stream coming from this newly elevated Jerusalem will flow into the Dead Sea, making it a fresh sea with an abundance of fish (Ezekiel 47). This is the new Jerusalem of the future—the coming joy of the whole world.
“And though Jerusalem has suffered terribly from human rampages over the centuries, a glorious Jerusalem is soon to emerge which will make all other cities of the world insignificant by comparison. God will demonstrate how He can take the ‘worst’ in man’s opinion and make it into the ‘best.’ This is what He will do to His Jerusalem—the Mount Zion of the future! God speed that day.”
What inspiring words! Ernest Martin was honored to be deeply involved with that dig—in fact, he directly assisted Dr. Herman Hoeh on the project. Yet, he left God’s Church before Mr. Armstrong even died. Then, just a few years ago, he died on January 16—the same day Herbert Armstrong died in 1986. Is that an ominous sign? Was his death a sign of what happens eternally to saints who reject the instructions of God’s end-time apostle?
Mr. Armstrong was given the key of David! We are honored to have been given the key of the house of David and more. We need to realize that this work in Jerusalem is tied directly to our salvation and our reward in the Kingdom of God. We can’t think of it as being merely interesting or fun. Our being involved in what God is doing there has a lot to do with our salvation!
What is that key going to unlock? It will unlock a great deal more than just the palace walls, which have already been uncovered. When God gives a rare, royal key, you know it’s going to unlock a lot!
“And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons” (Isaiah 22:24). Do you suppose we might find some amazing things over there? This palace is physical. The vessels in the temple are physical and spiritual. We’ve already gotten the spiritual vessels. Are we going to find some physical vessels as well?
Three Specific Commissions
When God says in Isaiah 22:22 that He will lay this key on a man’s shoulder, that is a symbol of this message being a burden. Several scriptures show why this message may be somewhat of a burden. Proclaiming this message won’t be all smooth sailing. This world doesn’t want to listen to God.
“O [you] that bringest good tidings [to Zion], get thee up into the high mountain; O [you] that bringest good tidings [to Jerusalem], lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:9, see the King James Version margin reference). That one scripture mentions three different jobs God has for us in this end time. First, we have a message for Zion, or God’s sinning Laodicean Church. So the time frame is after the Laodicean rebellion. Then we have a message for “Jerusalem,” which is a type of all the nations of Israel, especially America, Britain and Judah. Finally, we need to go directly to the “cities of Judah,” or the Jewish state in the Middle East called Israel. Judah must be warned in a special way—and notice the positive approach God tells us to take: “Behold your God! Good tidings for Jerusalem and the world! Your God is about to return!”
Why are those three commissions all linked in that verse? I believe there may be a special reason for that.
We have been working diligently to fulfill those first two commissions for several years. God may mention them in this context because they are now winding down.
Now, consider how those first two commissions might lead directly into our fulfilling the third.