4) First, it is a very long stretch to identify the position of Shebna/Eliakim as a definitional characteristic of the Davidic kingdom. The reference is post-Davidic to begin with: can something that cannot be traced to David be definitional of the Davidic kingdom? Next, there is no indication that this is a divine institution. Further, not only is Shebna removed from it, but it seems even Eliakim fails (22:25). We do not see it continuing after this point in any meaningful fashion, and surely the NT writers do not make any reference to the position as having relevance to the Messiah’s mission or that of the church.

I might digress here for a moment to tell the story of the first time I encountered this argument. Back in the late 1980s Scott Hahn and Gerry Matatics were promoting the Isaiah 22:22/Matthew 16:19 connection in their writings and debates. So when I debated Matatics at the City of the Lord Catholic Community in Tempe, Arizona in December of 1990, I had to be prepared for its presentation. I had read the article that was being distributed by Scott Hahn, had listened to his tape that presented the argument, and had heard Matatics use it as well, as I recall. So as I was reading the text I did a simple search and discovered something that I had never heard Hahn or Matatics say or write about: Isaiah 22:22 is quoted in the New Testament alright: just not at Matthew 16:19. It is quoted, directly, by the Lord Jesus of Himself at Revelation 3:7: “”And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this.” Here, directly quoting from the LXX text, Jesus, after Peter has died, applies these words to himself. Odd, if, in fact, this refers not to the King, but to the King’s “prime minister” in the person of the not yet existing bishop of Rome. In any case, I was evidently the first person to offer such a response to Matatics, and he was quite flustered by it. Even three years later in another debate on the topic he had not materially improved his presentation on the topic.

One may note that there is a difference between the “key of David” and the “keys of the kingdom of heaven.” I had noted in a debate with Robert Sungenis and Scott Butler that the singular “key of David” is Messianic in nature, while the keys of the kingdom of heaven, being plural, has a much different referent (specifically, to the proclamation of the gospel and the forgiveness of sins thereby). My recollection is that at one point Sungenis, in responding to my pointing out this rather important difference, said, “Singular, plural, it doesn’t matter….”

In any case, the fact that the Lord Jesus cites this text of Himself post-resurrection clearly indicates that the attempted use of the passage by Roman Catholic apologists (a use unknown, to my knowledge, in at least the first 1000 years of church history) stands against the New Testament’s own understanding and teaching. This particular “characteristic” of the Davidic king, as alleged, is shown to not only be non-Davidic, but a misuse of the text in the first place.

In our next installment we will look at the “Queen Mother” and see if there is any merit to this argument.

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