The Day of Small Things

"For who hath despised the day of small things?" (Zech. 4:10). Often in the small things of the Bible, God has hidden away treasures of wisdom.

Jeconiah, also called Jehoiachin, was the last king of Judah before that little kingdom was taken into captivity by the Babylonians. God's patience with the Jews had about run its course when Jeconiah became king at the age of 18. (2 Kings 24:8). This young king did evil in the sight of God, and for this, after reigning only 3 months, he was taken captive by the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar carried him away to Babylon together with the treasures of the temple. There he remained in prison for 37 years. What a wasted life! What a price to pay for a few months of youthful folly? But God holds even young men responsible for their actions.

Jeremiah expresses God's anger with this young king. "As surely as I live," declares the LORD, "even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. I will hand you over to those who seek your life, those you fear--to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to the Babylonians. I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where neither of you was born, and there you both will die. You will never come back to the land you long to return to." (Jer. 22:24-27).

"O land, land, land, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the LORD says: 'Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah.'" (Jer. 22:29,30). This prophecy was literally fulfilled. Jeconiah, his mother, and his son, Salathiel (I Chron. 3:17) lived their lives in Babylon. Although the king of Babylon later treated them kindly and gave them an allowance, they were prisoners.

Zerubbabel, the grandson of Jeconiah, apparently learned from the mistakes of his grandfather. When the Jews were released after 70 years to return to Jerusalem, he led one group. He helped rebuild the altar of God and the temple. He rejected the help of the enemies of the Jews and became governor of Judah. (See Ezra 3:2-8, 4:2f; Haggai 1:1).

Although no descendant of Jeconiah ever again reigned on the throne of David, Zerubbabel was restored to the favor of God from which Jeconiah had fallen. "'On that day,' declares the LORD Almighty, 'I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,' declares the LORD, 'and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,' declares the LORD Almighty." (Haggai 2:23). Jeconiah had been cast away as a signet. Zerubbabel is now restored as a signet! The significance of the wording of God's promise was surely not lost on the new governor. Small things, but how significant!

God encouraged Zerubbabel, and promised him the same promises he had made so many generations before to Abraham, and to his illustrious ancestor, David. (See Haggai 2:4-7; Zech 4:6-10). Zerubbabel was a descendant of David, in the direct line of those from whom would come the Messiah. Although God had said that no man of Jeconiah's seed would prosper on the throne of Judah, he had not forgotten his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

But how reconcile these promises of the Messiah through the seed of David with the curse pronounced on all the seed of Jeconiah? In the New Testament two genealogies of Christ are given--Matthew 1 and Luke 3. After David, the two genealogies are different. In Matthew, Christ's ancestry is traced through Solomon , but in Luke through Nathan , another son of David. The solution to this puzzle is simple, and shows God's wisdom and power.

Matthew traces the line of kings, from David, through Solomon, on to Jeconiah, and down to Joseph . Matthew wrote for the Jews, to whom this line of descent was very important. And true to the prophecy; none of this line, after Jeconiah, sat on the throne of David. Zerubbabel ruled as a governor of Judah, under a foreign power. Joseph was of the seed of Jeconiah, the Lord's legal father, as far as Jewish records were concerned. But he was not a king. He did not reign on David's throne. Still Christ could legally inherit the throne through him.

The genealogy in Luke apparently is that of Mary. She also was descended from David, through Nathan, not of the line of the kings. It was necessary; according to prophecy, that Jesus be of the actual blood line of David, and this was accomplished through his mother, Mary! Jeconiah's sin brought shame to him, but it did not defeat the promises of God!

Another consequence of this line of reasoning is that Jesus had to be born of a virgin! For in no other way could these prophecies have been fulfilled. "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14) " -- which means, 'God with us.'" (Matt. 1:23).

By Bill Carrell, Memphis, TN