Isaiah chapter 22 paints a vivid prophetic picture for us of the age we live in. It is the burden of the Valley of Vision (verse 1). This refers to Jerusalem. This is for the mainstream a prophetic picture of the Church and has more national connotations for those of the British Israel understanding.
The prophet addresses Shebna, the governor of King Hezekiah's palace. Contemptuously, Shebna is labelled as "this treasurer", no doubt referring to his love of money. Sadly, it is a prophetic picture of our day when those who should serve with a servant's heart often choose to use their positions avariciously. This applies to people from several vocations in our age, including politicians, civil servants, lawyers and those in the Christian ministry. We have seen many examples of people in these areas using positions of trust and civic responsibility to line their own pockets.
It is a terrible thing for Yahweh to address someone in a sacred ministry as a "treasurer", someone more interested in counting the offering bag than being who God has called him/her to be. Yahweh also referred to Shebna's ministry as tomb digging. To Yahweh, Shebna was carving out a place for dead people to go to. It's not good when God calls what you are doing "death"! This, of course, parallels Revelation 3 where Jesus says of the Church of Sardis that they have a reputation for being a place where you can find life but they are in fact dead. Death is God's summation of the Sardis church. Sardis is for the dead and dying. Yes, it has produced many outstanding Christians and it has got many born again but it still has the stench of death about it. Anyone building a Sardis church is digging out a grave for dead people to go to.
Sardis is, of course, the modern church. This church has served its purpose. Most believers were brought up spiritually in a Sardis church. The typical Sardis church is old-fashioned to varying degrees. Time ceases to go by in such churches. The absence of time by no means indicates the presence of eternity, however. Sardis churches are time-warp churches. You can go to a Sardis church stuck in the 1930s or one caught in Toronto.
The biggest problem with people in Sardis is that they don't know they are dead and that God has something better. Improving Sardis is the "vision" of zealots in Sardis. The rest think Sardis is just fine as it is.
That something better is the Church of Philadelphia. For the money-centred ministry of Shebna, God had the father-heart ministry of Eliakim (see Isaiah 22:21). People who think the return of Jesus is the only answer to mankind's ills are people who haven't experienced fathering leadership. God's answer is always a great leader. Eliakim was Yahweh's answer to Shebna. Eliakim means he who God raises. The only response to a ministry of death is resurrection. The Sardis church must die so that the Church of Jesus Christ can be raised to life.
The ministry of Eliakim was the ministry of the key of David (Isaiah 22:22). Equally, the Philadelphia church is marked by this key of David (Revelation 3:7). Sardis doesn't have this key; neither does Laodicea. Only Philadelphia has this key. Those of the Church of Philadelphia understand mysteries that Sardis believers don't. The dead do not see. The key of David is what will separate people in these last days. Those with this key have no need to dig tombs or count the money. The key of David is, as Paul said it was, life from the dead. It is fulness of supply.
The key of David is the key of dominion. Sardis believers don't understand the key and have a hard time even admitting it exists. They have to explain it away to fit their dogmatic theologies. Of course, this is ludicrous. They are shut out of the key by the key! It need not be so. Sardis saints can leave Sardis and join Philadelphia, the church of true brotherly love. But to do so, you have to leave behind all you are in Sardis. Those who have ruined their reputation in Sardis or had it ruined for them by Jehovah Sneaky (as Bill Johnson calls Him) are the happiest of people.
Shebna was stripped of his office and sent to a far country. Again, this symbolises those in Sardis who God wanted to give the key of David to if they would only listen to Him. The modern Church is increasingly a lost voice in this 21st century. It is being stripped of authority and ability to influence. The modern Church has its programs and its theologies. What does it need the Holy Spirit for?
The issue is life and death. The life of Philadelphia or the death of Sardis. The dividing point is the key of David. If you think you can do fine without an intimate knowledge of this key, you don't need to ask the question.
You are yet in Sardis.