For some, the concept of a virgin birth can be difficult to comprehend or accept. Nonetheless, the Messiah's virgin birth was not only a New Testament miracle but also a Biblical necessity. This fundamental Christian principle was not based solely on New Testament writings; on the contrary, the foundations established in the Hebrew Scriptures required the virgin birth of the Messiah.
According to the Bible, it had become impossible for a legitimate and qualified Messiah to have an earthly father due to the spiritual downfall of King Solomon and his descendants. As a result, the Messiah could only have a heavenly Father. When the LORD God promised Abraham and Sarah a son, Genesis 17:17 records Abraham's reaction, "Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?" But just as God promised, Sarah had a son and they named him Isaac. Moreover, it was through this miraculous birth between a hundred-year old man and a ninety-year old woman that Almighty God established His everlasting covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
In like manner, it would be through another miraculous birth that God would establish His New and everlasting Covenant with all of mankind, through the virgin birth of His only-begotten Son, Jesus of Nazareth.
God's Unconditional Promise to David
- 2Samuel 7:12-13: "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever."
- Psalms 89:35-36: "Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me."
- Psalms 132:11: "The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne."
God's promise to David was certainly unconditional, for according to Psalm 89:35-36 and Psalm 132:11, He swore by His holiness that He would not turn from it. In contrast, God's promise to David's descendants was NOT unconditional since it was a promise that was made with provisions, contingencies and stipulations.
God's Conditional Promise to David's Descendants
According to Psalm 132:12 the LORD promised David the following, "If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore." In this verse, God pledged to David that his kingdom would be established through his descendants if, and only if, they obeyed the covenant and testimony that He would teach them. According to the Bible, this conditional agreement would begin with David's son Solomon. Though David had many sons, God designated Solomon to build the temple, and through him the throne of his father David would continue. 1Chronicles 22:7-10 explains:
"And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God: (8) But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. (9) Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. (10) He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever."
David told Solomon that he was the one whom God had appointed to build the temple. Additionally, it would be through him that the kingdom of Israel would be established forever. However, the condition is also clear in that the LORD would establish the throne of Solomon's kingdom over Israel forever as long as he and his heirs succeeded in meeting the contingencies and requirements stipulated in Psalm 132:12.
We can find further verification of these provisions in other passages in the Bible. For example, 1 Kings chapter 8 describes the time when Solomon inaugurated the temple. Solomon prayed to the LORD God and asked Him for verification of the promise that He made to his father David. Solomon requested that the LORD would confirm that, through his seed, there would always be a man to sit upon the throne of Israel. 1Kings 8:22-28 states:
"And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven: (23) And he said, LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart: (24) Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day. (25) Therefore now, LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me. (26) And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father. (27) But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? (28) Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day:"
Solomon's prayer ended at 1 Kings 8:54. It would be in the following chapter, in 1 Kings 9:3-5, that the LORD God replied to Solomon's prayer and repeated the same stipulations that were made in Psalm 132:12:
"And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. (4) And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: (5) Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel."
In this passage, God endorsed the contingencies upon Solomon and his descendants. These provisions and stipulations were based solely on the fact that God required them to follow His statutes and His judgments. These had to be met! If they kept them, then and only then would the LORD establish the throne of Solomon's kingdom upon Israel forever.
1Kings 2:1-4 provides a final testimony to the provisions and conditions that God placed on Solomon and his descendants. In this passage, near the time of his death, David reminds Solomon of God's promise which was based solely upon these mandatory requirements:
"Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, (2) I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; (3) And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: (4) That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel."
Solomon's Spiritual Downfall
In Psalm 132:12, 1 Kings 9:3-5 and 1 Kings 2:1-4, the Bible makes it clear that God instructs Solomon and his descendants to keep all of the statutes, commandments, judgments and testimonies set forth to enable their kingdom to be established forever. However, the Bible reveals that beginning with Solomon, the descendants of David failed to comply. When Solomon became old, he turned away from the God of his fathers and turned toward the pagan gods and goddesses of his many wives and concubines. He even made sacrifices and burnt incense offerings to them. 1 Kings 11:1-10 describes the details of Solomon's spiritual downfall:
"But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; (2) Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. (3) And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. (4) For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. (5) For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. (6) And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. (7) Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. (8) And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. (9) And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice. (10) And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded."
According to this passage, Solomon failed miserably! When he became old, he turned to the gods and goddesses of the heathen. As a result of Solomon's failures and his sins against God, the LORD punished him. Solomon's kingdom was rent in two, and Israel became the House of Israel and the House of Judah. Shortly after Solomon's death it was Jeroboam, the son of Nebat and not a descendant of David, who became the first king of the House of Israel. Rehoboam, Solomon's only son, became the first king of the House of Judah. 1 Kings 11:11-13 records God's punishment upon Solomon. His kingdom would be rent in two after his death and almost completely taken away from his only son:
"Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. (12) Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. (13) Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen."
Although the Messianic line began with David and was to continue through Solomon, it could only be passed on to Rehoboam, Solomon's only son. Jeroboam was the son of Nebat and not a descendant of David. Therefore, the genealogy of the kings of the House of Israel which began with Jeroboam must be declared ineligible with respect to the Messianic line because they did not come from David through Solomon. With respect to this matter, it is important to recall that God's promise to David was unconditional because He swore by His holiness that his seed would endure forever. However, God made a conditional promise to David's descendants beginning with Solomon based on conditions and requirements.
If Solomon had any other sons besides Rehoboam, the Bible would have recorded their names. It is interesting to note that the Bible specifically mentions the names of Solomon's two daughters, Taphath (1 Kings 4:11) and Basmath (1 Kings 4:15). So why would the Bible not mention the fact that Solomon had any other sons besides Rehoboam if this were the case? According to the scriptures, the only possible conclusion with respect to this matter is clear: Solomon had only one son, Rehoboam. As a result he and his heirs, who are the descendants of David, become the primary focus of attention as Judah's kings continued to fail to meet God's requirements under the conditional promise.
The Continued Failures of the Kings of Judah
It is important to realize that Solomon was not the only descendant of David who failed to meet the provisions and contingencies set forth by the LORD God of Israel. Of the twenty kings of Judah, many did evil in the sight of the LORD. And with respect to the last nine kings of Judah, seven of them were evil kings. They were Ahaz, Manasseh, Amon, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin also known as Jeconiah or Coniah, and Zedekiah. Zedekiah was the last king of Judah. The following Scriptural references confirm the continued spiritual downfall of the kings of Judah:
- 2Kings 16:2-3 (Regarding Ahaz) "Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God, like David his father. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel."
- 2Kings 21:1-2,6 (Regarding Manasseh) "Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hephzibah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger."
- 2Kings 21:19-22 (Regarding Amon) "Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh did. And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them: And he forsook the LORD God of his fathers, and walked not in the way of the LORD."
- 2Kings 23:31-32 (Regarding Jehoahaz) "Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done."
- 2Kings 23:36-37 (Regarding Jehoiakim) "Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done."
- 2Kings 24:8-9 (Regarding Jehoiachin also known as Jeconiah or Coniah) "Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother's name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done."
- 2Kings 24:18-19 (Regarding Zedekiah) "Zedekiah was twenty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done."
Only two of the last nine kings of Judah did right in the sight of the LORD. According to 2 Kings 18:1-3 and 2 Kings 22:1-2, they were Hezekiah and Josiah. Josiah did all he could to restore Judah to righteousness and to purge it from its sins. According to the Scriptures, he was the greatest of all of the kings of Judah.
However, with respect to God's conditional promise to David's descendants, the Scriptures bear witness that many of them did evil in the sight of the LORD and turned to other gods. God's stipulations to David's descendants are also clear. Since Solomon and many of the kings of Judah failed to meet the requirements that were previously stipulated in Psalm 132:12, 1 Kings 9:3-5 and 1 Kings 2:1-4, their eventual punishment would be that the entire line of the kings of Judah would be cut off.
Some may take the position that repentance of the kings of Judah succeeded in soothing the wrath of Almighty God. However, according to the Bible, this was not the case! Using Manasseh as an example, the Scriptures reveal that he reigned prior to Josiah and had previously repented for all that he had done prior to Josiah's reign. 2 Chronicles 33:10-16 testifies to Manasseh's repentance:
"And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. (11) Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. (12) And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, (13) And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God. (14) Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. (15) And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. (16) And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel."
The Bible shows that Manasseh repented and asked for forgiveness. Though this was the case, God's wrath remained kindled against the kings of Judah because of all that he had done. Even though Josiah was a great king, 2 Kings 23:25-27 explains that God remained outraged against the kings of Judah despite Manassah's repentance:
"And like unto him [Josiah] was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him. (26) Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. (27) And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there."
Since Manasseh repented and God's wrath remained, it can only be concluded that any alleged or unrecorded repentance of the other kings of Judah would also fail to soothe the wrath of Almighty God.
To claim that God would allow the Messianic line to continue through Solomon and his descendants in spite of all of their recorded failures would be making a conclusion that is based without merit. It would be taking a position challenging the very fabric of the word of God by alleging that His words are untrue. Even though some of the kings of Judah could have repented for their sins, God's anger remained kindled against them as in the case of Manasseh. Therefore, as a result of the failures of Solomon and his heirs, God lopped away the kingly line of Judah and disqualified them from claiming the throne of David. The last two kings of Judah, Jeconiah and Zedekiah, provide the evidence.
The Curse on Jeconiah's Descendants
Jeconiah, also known as Jehoiachin or Coniah, was the next to the last king of Judah who reigned before Zedekiah. According to the Bible, he was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for a total of three months. Furthermore, according to 2 Kings 24:8-9, he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. Although the Bible provides some interesting facts about the life of Jeconiah, Almighty God's words regarding his descendants have an even greater significance. In Jeremiah 22:24-30 the LORD pronounces a curse on Jeconiah and his descendants, declaring them ineligible to sit upon the throne of David as the king of Israel:
"As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence; (25) And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. (26) And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die. (27) But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return. (28) Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? (29) O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. (30) Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah."
It is absolutely critical to understand the importance of this curse on Jeconiah and his descendants when considering the necessity of the virgin birth. First of all, verse 28 states, "wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed." This illustrates that the LORD acknowledged the fact that Jeconiah would have descendants, which he did. According to verse 29, God made a triple declaration to the world as follows, "O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD." And it is in verse 30 that these words provide the greatest significance that no man of Jeconiah's seed shall prosper, "sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah." This passage testifies that, although Jeconiah would have descendants, God declares the entire line ineligible to sit upon the throne of David.
Zedekiah and His Sons are Cut-Off
The Scriptures reveal that Zedekiah took Jeconiah's place on the throne and was the last king of Judah, reigning for eleven years. When he rebelled against the king of Babylon, the Chaldean armies pursued him and overtook him. In Jeremiah 52:8-10, the Bible records what befell Zedekiah and his sons shortly after they were captured in the plains of Jericho:
"But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. (9) Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him. (10) And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah."
The Hebrew Scriptures establish an interesting situation. According to Jeremiah 52:8-10, all of Zedekiah's sons were killed at Riblah. Therefore, Zedekiah's genealogical line was completely terminated since he had no surviving heirs to the throne.
Additionally, according to Jeremiah 22:24-30, Jeconiah's descendants were cursed by Almighty God and declared ineligible to claim the throne of David. As a result of this curse, Almighty God Himself terminated his genealogical line. Since these are the facts, who can be the progenitor of the Messiah? Does Israel have an earthly candidate who would qualify? If so, do the Hebrew Scriptures provide the name of such an individual? The answers to all of these questions are a collective "No." Therefore, eliminating all prospects for the Messiah to come from the royal line of David through Solomon, the only logical conclusion would require Almighty God Himself to become the Father of the Messiah.
Zerubbabel Provides the Direction to the Messiah
In approximately 607 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon took the children of Israel into captivity. This period lasted for a total of seventy years. As a result of the decree made by Cyrus king of Persia, immediately after this seventy-year exile, the children of Israel were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Shortly following Cyrus' commandment, Ezra 1:8 mentions an individual by the name of Sheshbazzar and identifies him as "the prince of Judah."
"Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah."
Sheshbazzar is the Babylonian name for Zerubbabel, Jeconiah's grandson. His genealogy is recorded in 1 Chronicles 3:17-19 as follows, "And the sons of Jeconiah; Assir, Salathiel his son, Malchiram also, and Pedaiah, and Shenazar, Jecamiah, Hoshama, and Nedabiah. And the sons of Pedaiah were, Zerubbabel, and Shimei: and the sons of Zerubbabel; Meshulam, and Hananiah, and Shelomith their sister."
Since Zerubbabel was called "the prince of Judah" and was Jeconiah's grandson, his descendants and offspring are also cursed because all of Jeconiah's descendants are cursed. Moreover, Zerubbabel's genealogy extends all the way past the official closing of the book of Chronicles, to his fifth and sixth generation. It begins in 1 Chronicles 3:19 and extends all the way to 1 Chronicles 3:24. His is the only genealogy provided in the Bible that proceeds from the genealogy of the kings of Judah.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to note that Zerubbabel, who is the only individual in the Bible that is called the "prince of Judah" after the return from the seventy-year captivity, descended from a cursed genealogy.
Zerubbabel Made a Signet
Prior to the return from Babylon, the prophets referred to the Messiah as 'David' in the scriptures. A few examples where the Messiah is called 'David' can be found in Jeremiah 30:8-9, Ezekiel 34:22-25, Ezekiel 37:24-25 and Hosea 3:4-5:
- Jeremiah 30:8-9 "For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them."
- Ezekiel 34:22-25 "Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods."
- Ezekiel 37:24-25 "And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever."
- Hosea 3:4-5 "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days."
Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Hosea all lived approximately 300-400 years after David died. Therefore, it is clear that the references made to David in these four passages are references made to the Messiah and that God was actually calling the MessiahDavid. This is because they continued to hold that the Messiah would come from the offspring of David by God's eternal promise.
Though the prophets sometimes referred to the Messiah as David prior to the exile, there were times when the Messiah was actually called Zerubbabel in the Scriptures after the return from the Babylonian captivity. Haggai 2:21-23 provides an important illustration that demonstrates that the Messiah was actually called Zerubbabel, who was Jeconiah's grandson:
"Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; (22) And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. (23) In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts."
Though Haggai 2:21-23 speaks of Zerubbabel, there are two obvious reasons why he cannot be the subject of this passage and that this passage is actually messianic. First of all, Zerubbabel would not "destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen" and "overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them" in his lifetime. This would be a responsibility set aside strictly for the Messiah. This is demonstrated in Zechariah 9:9-10 and Micah 5:2,4,10 as follows:
- Zechariah 9:9-10 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (10) And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth."
- Micah 5:2,4,10 "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (4) And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. (10) And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots."
Secondly, the phrase "shake the heavens and the earth" in Haggai 2:21 refers to the day of the LORD. According to the prophets, the day of the LORD refers to a time when all nations will come against Jerusalem to battle. This describes a future event that has not yet taken place in our history. Zechariah 14:1-2 states, "Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city."
Since Zerubbabel died approximately 2500 years ago, the day of the LORD and shaking the heavens and the earth cannot possibly apply to him. Joel 2:10-11, Joel 3:16 and Isaiah 13:9-13 provide Scriptural proof that shaking the heavens and the earth will occur on the day of the LORD:
- Joel 2:10-11 "The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: (11) And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?"
- Joel 3:16 "The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel."
- Isaiah 13:9-13 "Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. (10) For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. (11) And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. (12) I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. (13) Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger."
During the day of the LORD, it is the Messiah who will come and rescue Jerusalem and destroy the nations of the earth that come against her. Zechariah 14:3-4 states, "Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day if battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives."
When God announced His curse on Jeconiah and his descendants, He removed him as the signet on His right hand. Jeremiah 22:24 states, "As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence." According to Haggai 2:23 the Messiah, who is called Zerubbabel, was made as the signet. As a result, the LORD God has closed the doors on anyone with an earthly father who would claim the throne of David. The only one who would qualify is Jesus of Nazareth, God's only-begotten Son. Zerubbabel provides the clear genealogical pathway to the Messiah even though he is subject to the curse of his grandfather. Only God's Son, Jesus of Nazareth, born of a virgin, can justifiably lay claim to the throne of David as Israel's King Messiah.
Joseph - Mary's Husband
In the New Testament, the book of Matthew chapter one records the genealogy of Joseph, Mary's husband. Matthew 1:6-16 states as follows:
"And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; (7) And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; (8) And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; (9) And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; (10) And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; (11) And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: (12) And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; (13) And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; (14) And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; (15) And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; (16) And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."
This passage illustrates that Joseph was a direct descendant of the royal line of David through Solomon. He was also a descendant of Jeconiah (verse 11) and Zerubbabel (verse 12). Since Jeremiah 22:30 declares that all of Jeconiah's descendants were disqualified from claiming the throne of David as king, Joseph was also disqualified. Most importantly, if Jesus were the biological offspring of Joseph, He would also be declared ineligible to claim the throne of David because He would fall under the very same curse.
In this chapter, the Gospel-writer boldly addresses the curse of Jeconiah's descendants. Then he went on to explain how the LORD God resolved the issue by becoming the Father of the Messiah Himself. He would be born of a virgin! Matthew explained that, while Mary and Joseph were espoused and before they came together as husband and wife, she became with child of the Holy Ghost. According to Matthew 1:18-23, this was the fulfillment of what was written by the prophet Isaiah:
- Matthew 1:18-23 "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. (19) Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. (20) But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (21) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (22) Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, (23) Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
- Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
Heli: Mary's Father
The Bible provides the lineage of Heli, Mary's father29, in Luke 3:23, 31 as follows, "And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, (31) Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David." God's eternal promise to David was fulfilled through Heli's genealogy. Since he was Mary's father, Joseph was considered to be his son-in-law. As a result, Mary was a descendent of David, but not from David through Solomon. She descended from David through Nathan.
Because of the sins of Solomon and his descendants, we not only eliminate him from the paternal line to the Messiah because of the virgin birth but also from the maternal line through Heli. Finally, it becomes clear that the Messiah would be both the Son of God paternally and the Son of David through Heli, Mary's father. Luke 1:30-35 records the words that the angel said to Mary:
"And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. (31) And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. (32) He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: (33) And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (34) Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? (35) And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
God's Fulfillment of His Promise to David
Ever since the beginning of mankind's spiritual downfall in the garden of Eden, the LORD God indicated that it would be through the seed of the woman that sin would be defeated. In Genesis 3:15, God told the serpent who tempted Eve the following, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The seed of the serpent is sin; the seed of the woman, Mary, is the Messiah!
In conclusion, Galatians 4:4-7 declares:
"But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. (7) Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
29. J. McClintock and J. Strong's Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (New York, NY: Arno Press, 1969) Vol. 3,4 pp 771-775 "Mary is called by the Jews batHeli, 'daughter of Heli.'" The divinity and rabbinical scholar, John Lightfoot in his Harmony of the Four Evangelists, details Mary's genealogy. J.R. Dummelow in his Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York, NY: Macmillan Co., 1937) on p. 739 further expounds that it is significant that Elizabeth was a relative, a cousin of Mary (Luke 1:36), but this does not mean that Mary also belonged to the tribe of Levi, for "Male descent alone determined the tribe, and Mary may have been related to Elizabeth on her mother's side."