Tiny clues can lead to amazing discoveries
The writer is a freelance researcher and former elder and employee of the Worldwide Church of God. He lives with his wife, Robbie, in North Carolina. This article is adapted from Mr. Arvidson's new book, Key of David: Locating King David's Lost Tomb. For more information, write Association for Christian Development, P.O. Box 4748, Federal Way, Wash. 98063, U.S.A., or firstname.lastname@example.org. See also The Journal, June 30. David Sielaff assisted Mr. Arvidson in writing the book and this article.
By Gary Arvidson
KINGS MOUNTAIN, N.C.--You may have read in the June issue of The Journal about my dream of locating King David's tomb and all that its discovery would mean.
Could it be possible to find King David's lost tomb with only the most limited clues at our disposal?
This very quest has been foiled many times throughout history. Therefore, what specific set of circumstances could allow a newly formed research team a decisive advantage over other seekers?
Sometimes a clue is so tiny that it may be rejected as being no clue at all. But, as legal analysts recognize, no clue can be omitted before being put to the proper test.
Investigators who summarily reject clues because of apparent insignificance may find themselves summarily dismissed from dealing with clues ever again.
After all, even the Bible wonders about people who despise the "day of small things" (Zechariah 4:10).
Three little words
Now get this. One critical clue to finding King David's tomb is a mere three-word phrase: key of David. Although this phrase is small by any standard, it is powerful in its significance and reaches beyond its apparent insignificance.
Read the text below while keeping in mind that it is Jesus who is talking:
"And to the angel of the church of Philadelphia write: 'These things say he that is holy, he that is true, he that has the key of David, he that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens'" (Revelation 3:7).
Those are the words. This is the clue. Is this a literal key? Is it only symbolic? If so, what does it symbolize?
Answers will be more readily forthcoming once it is acknowledged that this phrase is based on an original statement in the Old Testament that includes three additional words: "the key of the house of David" (Isaiah 22:22).
That vital addition must also be addressed. A message can be inferred from the missing words.
Literal or symbolic key?
Experts recognize that the book of Revelation is highly symbolic. Some even suggest it is more of a mystical book.
You will probably find more opinions about Revelation than you will in just about any other Bible book.
So how could we possibly hope to find clues about David's tomb's whereabouts from looking into a book that appears to be, at best, composed of mystical biblical literature?
Much depends on the answer to this question. Therefore, what is the larger perspective about this text, the book of Revelation?
Controlled by Jesus
First, Revelation 3:7 shows that Jesus controls the "key of David." After all, He wrote the book (Revelation 1:1) and delivered the message. Therefore He asserts full sovereignty over the key.
In short, Jesus not only controls (1) the identity of the key (of David) but (2) is the holder of the key along with (3) being the one to determine its interpretive powers (open, shut and shut, open) that (4) can be utilized at the proper moment.
Furthermore, Jesus administers (5) the correct application of the key and (6) what can be accomplished by means of it at (7) the appropriate time.
What aspect of David's life or death is this key most concerned with?
Examine some of the interesting ways the "key of David" has been interpreted for its potential hidden meaning.
Did you realize this tiny phrase has been deciphered in no fewer than 15 ways? That in itself shows we should be careful about arriving at any conclusion too quickly
Take a good look at the alleged possible meanings below. The perspective I'm presenting here will give good reasons for applying the text points to the inevitable result from the death and burial of King David--in his unique tomb, which remains "unto this day" (Acts 2:29).
The summary of interpretations begins with the Jewish perspective, because it offers the oldest view. Besides, it is the basis for what is expressed under New Testament conditions. The Jewish perspective is in Isaiah 22:22 and, of course, not Revelation 3:7. Here are the keys:
Remember, these 15 choices for interpreting this key of David are posed here as possibilities to consider when attempting to discern what is the primary, secondary or other compound meanings of this short phrase.
Open and shut
One final element deserves a brief comment. The condition of "open" and "shut" must be added to the perspective. Those words correlate with known conditions surrounding David's tomb over the past 2,000 years, because they take into account the situation that existed at (1) the time King David was buried in his tomb and (2) well after that when his tomb was under protection.
To safeguard the tomb throughout the ages, the tomb would have been miraculously "shut" until the time when God would permit (or direct) it to be opened.
Remember, David is dead and buried, just as Peter said (Acts 2:29). He is not ascended into the heavens (Acts 2:34). Yet here is a key that gives the holder certain powers.
This concludes our abbreviated discussion on the various ways Revelation 3:7 and Isaiah 22:22 have been or can be interpreted.
We will consider any reader's input about suggested additions to this list. I am making no attempt to limit knowledge and possibilities here because the best choice can be made only from a perspective of full knowledge.
This means we should draw from a complete selection of all known possibilities.
In a future issue of The Journal I plan to write about the power of parables.
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