O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
The Key of David figures twice in the Bible: once in Isaiah 22, when Eliakim is told that God, ‘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;’ and then in Revelation 3 where the Church in Philadelphia is told ‘the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. … See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.’
Jerusalem and Philadelphia both faced uncertain futures. Each in their own way is challenged neither to be hopeless, nor hope in hopeless things, but to put their trust in God.
Our own society has issues too about the future and hope. We oscillate between what can be an ostrich-like preoccupation with our present prosperity, and apocalyptic angst about the future that we find hard to turn into effective action. One of the reasons no political party seems to cut the mustard at the moment for me is that none of them seems to have a real grasp on giving us a future.
Can the Christian Gospel do it? Can a hope that is ‘steadfast and certain’ not dissolve into other-worldly post-mortem escape on the one hand, or doctrine-driven tyranny on the other, but lead us into a coming of God’s kingdom that is both good news now for all God’s children, and good news that in the end all shall be well?
I think it can. Committed faith in Christ matched with an equal commitment to live in a Christ-like way can release the resources of the past into the passion of the present, and unlock the door of the future. We see it happening all the time in very practical actions by people we know, and when the time is right we see it breaking through and changing society itself.
This, I sense, is such a time. Faith is returning rapidly to the public stage. Let’s make sure it speaks in a way that gives us all back our future.
David Thomson is the suffragan Bishop of Huntingdon in the diocese of Ely.