DECEMBER 7, 2023

“On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:23, ESV)

A Chosen Predecessor of Jesus

A small, worshipping remnant of the Hebrew people returned from Babylon in 538/536 BC. But they have no king; they are not a kingdom but rather a province of Persia under the Persian king. Furthermore, not only do they have no king, but the kingly line of David through King Jehoiachin has had a judgment placed on it. In Jeremiah 22:30, God declared of Jehoiachin: “Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days, for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah.” Earlier in the Book of Jeremiah, God also indicated that King Jehoiachin had been removed as God’s representative, His “signet ring” (22:24).

But Matthew 1:12 records Jesus Christ descending through the line of King Jehoiachin (referred to also by the name Jechoniah or Coniah). How can the curse on King Jehoiachin be understood as not permanent so that Christ could be descended through him? The answer, recorded in Haggai 2:23, is that a faithful descendant of Jehoiachin will allow the curse to be reversed by God in the future.

Haggai, using an emphatic three-fold “declares the Lord/Lord of hosts,” recorded God’s sovereign choice of Zerubbabel, grandson of King Jehoiachin. It is through him that God will bring the promised Davidic King, rescinding the judgment on Jehoiachin. Again, using the imagery of a signet ring, the Lord declared that faithful Zerubbabel would now function as His chosen predecessor of the coming King. Zerubbabel never became king, but he was a symbolic representative of the One who would come as Davidic King to rule over an eternal kingdom. Luke 1:32b–33, referring to Jesus, reads: “And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Faithful obedience of Zerubbabel allowed the ultimate faithful obedient King to be born in David’s line (through Zerubbabel) and in David’s city of Bethlehem. This Christmas, as we look back and give thanks for the birth of Jesus, let’s also look forward to the complete fulfillment of God’s promise that the Lord Jesus Christ will reign as King forever in His coming kingdom. So we say, “Come again, King Jesus.”

Dr. Stephen J. Bramer
Chair and Professor of Bible Exposition