“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson
“What gives me the most hope every day is . . . knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.” – Rick Warren
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
To be Zerubbabel — heir to David’s throne during a time of foreign subjugation — was to live with finite disappointment and infinite hope. His ancestor a couple generations back had incurred a “finite” curse:
” . . . even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off . . .
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.”
(Jeremiah 22:24, 30)
But the infinite promise — the expectation that kept hope alive in the absence of a king — was that one of David’s descendants would still reign eternally.
“David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel . . .
If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David . . . can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne.”
(Jeremiah 33:17b, 20-21)
The anointed king would:
1. be God
2. be God’s Son
3. reign forever
4. be obeyed by all nations
5. build the temple
Do you see these themes in the following verses? Even if I think I’ve messed up the entire plan — or maybe that someone connected to me has messed it up for me! — God always keeps His promises.
God’s promise to Judah (ancestor of King David and prince Zerubbabel) was that a descendant would rule the nations:
“The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.”
God’s promise directly to King David:
“The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom.
He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son.
When he does wrong, [literally: when he is “bent”] I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”
(2 Samuel 7:11-16)
King David prophesied many more details (only a few covered here):
“‘I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’
I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me,
‘You are my son; today I have become your father.
Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.'”
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’
. . . He will call out to me,
‘You are my Father,
my God, the Rock my Savior.’
‘And I will appoint him to be my firstborn,
the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
‘I will maintain my love to him forever,
and my covenant with him will never fail.
‘I will establish his line forever,
his throne as long as the heavens endure.”
(from Psalm 89)
The prophet Isaiah echoed the promises to David:
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse [David’s father];
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit . . .
the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. In that day the LORD will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people . . .”
(Isaiah 11:1, 9b-11)
Isaiah said the promised ruler would be God.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.”
A prophecy during prince Zerubbabel’s time:
“Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne.”
And a prophecy directly to Zerubbabel — reversing his grandfather’s “signet ring” curse. This prophecy probably served the purpose of reassuring the people that the promised King would still come from David’s/Zerubbabel’s line:
“The word of the LORD came to Haggai . . .
‘Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms . . .
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.”
“He who testifies to these things says,
‘Yes, I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”