Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Haggai, Zechariah, and Messiah
Cyrus, king of Persia, was used by God to accomplish His purposes. Cyrus released the captives. The LORD charged Cyrus with the building of the temple in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. All the Jews were encouraged to return to their homeland, to bring all their costly items to give to the temple, and to help with the building. Cyrus commissioned all of the people in his empire to finance the Jews’ needs and their expenses as they traveled. Keep this in mind. This edict is significant.
Zerubbabel, Jeshua the priest, and the rest of the heads of their fathers’ houses in Israel began well, but the constant harassment by the Assyrians discouraged them, wearing them down. These attacks frightened the Jews. The Assyrians also bribed other local people to frustrate the Jews’ efforts.
The Assyrian agitators wrote to Xerxes (Ahasuerus) at the beginning of his reign to turn the new ruler against the Jews, since the Jews would not allow the Assyrians to help them build, knowing that the Assyrians worshiped idols. (Ezra 4:3-6).
Therefore, the work stopped. Time passed. Sources indicate that twenty years went by with no further action all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
And then, God spoke.
2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.
7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.” (Haggai 1:2-9 ESV).
When God is most glorified, we are most satisfied, blessed, and overcome by Him.
They tried to build homes to protect themselves from their Assyrian neighbors, rather than turning to the Lord. When God is glorified in His house, they will discern their betrayal.
The Assyrians who surrounded them had always been a vicious tribe. In more ancient times, these people skinned alive the peoples they conquered, taking the skins and wrapping them around the huts of the decimated village. When the Assyrians had conquered a city, people could smell it from a distance.
Their capital, Nineveh, was the city to which Jonah had fled (786-746 BC), a shocking location to choose, given the reputation of the Assyrians. Knowing the terror the Assyrian people could produce if they so desired, we understand why the Lord sent prophets who were equipped with messages for Zerubbabel.
Zechariah began his prophetic ministry in 520 B.C., with a message for Zerubbabel.
1 “And the angel who talked with me came again and woke me, like a man who is awakened out of his sleep. 2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. 3 And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” 4 And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5 Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” 6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. 7 Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”
8 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 9 “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.” (Zechariah 4:1-9 ESV).
“Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. 2 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them” (Ezra 5:1-2 ESV).
In approximately 520 B.C. texts written during the reign of Darius name the local governor as Tattenai (one of those trying to cause trouble for the Jewish builders). He is also in the Biblical record. These details were preserved within God’s Word. By the end, Tattenai was removed.
“It is obvious that the Lord God was pleased with Zerubbabel’s efforts in returning the captives to Jerusalem, in building the second temple, and in reestablishing the temple worship (Ezra 3:10). With God’s prompting, Haggai gave Zerubbabel a special blessing: “‘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).” (Source).
Zerubbabel’s installation as governor was a fulfillment of God’s promise to return His people to the Promised Land, as He had done previously when they left Egypt. The Lord had also promised David that He would establish David’s line. God knew that lineage. It didn’t end with Josiah.
Zerubbabel’s ancestral lineage went all the way back through Josiah to King David, and now it was clear to all that the established Messianic lineage of David was in place again through Zerubbabel’s governorship.
Could Messiah be far behind? The signet ring hints at Messiah Jesus, descendant of David and of Zerubbabel, who one day will return as the conquering King, who will reign, but who first came as our Savior, who sacrificed His life on the cross to pay for our sins and to redeem us as His own.How would you have felt if the temple that was built to take the place of Solomon's destroyed temple was instead smaller, devoid of as much gold, and did not inspire the awe of worship? What would you have done? Click To Tweet
Overcoming all of the attempts by the Assyrians/Samaritans and the others who had also been deposited there as captives to halt the rebuilding of the temple, “in 516 BC, the temple was completed and dedicated with great fanfare (Ezra 6:16). Read about the celebration here. The Jews also observed the Passover (Ezra 6:19).
It’s interesting that Zerubbabel is never mentioned in connection with the dedication ceremonies, nor is his name mentioned in the Bible again after Ezra 5:1. For this reason, Zerubbabel’s temple is often referred to simply as the “second temple,” for it was not as glorious as Solomon’s temple had been before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed it (Source). But Zerubbabel, even more importantly, was the link that connected the lineage of Messiah all the way back to King David, who was Zerubbabel’s ancestor.
Messiah’s Lineage through Zerubbabel
And Jesse the father of David the King. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. (Matthew 1:6-16 ESV).
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