Essay, Research Paper: Zerubabbel As Man From God

Religion

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Zerubabbel as a Messianic figure. As my text, I am using the book of Haggai
2:23: ďIn 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.Ē Thus, the messianic
promise was passed onto Zerubbabel, the man that God entrusted to be the
governor of Godís people upon their return to Israel, and with the rebuilding
of the Temple at Jerusalem. Zerubbabel was a leader, a man of God, and a
faithful servant to Godís will. Zerubbabel was a messianic figure. This can be
seen in a series of comparisons and contrast to Christ and His work. To begin,
Zerubbabel was the son of Shealtiel and the grandson of Jehoiachin this is
referenced in Ezra 3:2; and Matt 1:12). In I Chronicles 3:19 he is said to be
the son of Pedaiah, Shealtielísí brother. The explanation for this apparent
discrepancy is very likely that Shealtiel died without having a son; and either
his nephew was his legal heir and therefore called his son (reference here to
Exod 2:10), or else; Pedaiah married his brotherís widow and, therefore,
Zerubbabel became Shealtielís son by levirate law as can be referenced in Deut
25:5-10. In 1 Chronicles 3:17-19, Zerubabbel is listed as the heir to the throne
of Judah. He is also listed in the genealogy of Christ Jesus in Matt 1:14, and
Luke 3:27. He is, therefore, by linage of the House of David, and under the
Davidic covenant. Zerubabbel lived in exile in Babylonia with the his fellow
Israelites. However, God reigns Sovereign over creation, including the nations
of the world. As part of Godís process to return His people to the Judah, God
delivered the Babylonian empire into the hands of Cyrus the Persian, who became
after his conquest of Babylonia became know as Cyrus the Great. God elevated
Cyrus to rule over the middle-eastern world of the time. Then, God worked the
heart of Cyrus to command Zerubbabel to return with a company of Israelites to
the, now, colony of the former kingdom of Judah. Cyrus, also, appointed
Zerubabbel governor of the colony (Ezra 1:8, 11; 5:14). Zerubabbel lead this
first contingent, numbering over 42,000 back to Jerusalem. Nothing is revealed
about the trip itself, except it can be induced that it took about four months
to make the journey. When they first reached Jerusalem, they set up the altar of
burnt offerings, then they proceeded to lay the foundation of the new temple,
thus beginning the task of re-establishing the Temple as a symbol of Godís
covenant presence with His people. However, adversaries of the Jews came from
Samaria and offered to help Zerubabbel and the Jews to rebuild the Temple. These
adversaries were people brought to Samaria by the Assyrian kings before the
exile of Judah and Benjamin to Babylonia. But Zerubbabel and the other leaders
refused to accept their help as seen in Ezra 4. Zerubbabel did not accept the
offer of these foreign people, in contrast to Joshuaís being deceived by the
Gibeoniteís when he brought the Israelites into the land (Joshua 9:27). Later,
however, during the reign Artaxerxes, opponents of the Jews managed to succeed
in stopping the work on the Temple (refer to Ezra 4:6-24). However, during the
reign of Darius, the work on the temple resumed and was completed. A great
celebration was held to dedicate the new Temple as seen in Ezra 6:16-22. Thus
the work of Zerubabbel was completed; he had brought the first returnees back to
Jerusalem, and under his direction the Temple was rebuilt. It is not known how
Zerubabbel died. Zerubabbel was never made king of Judah; but he was the crown
prince next in line to the throne with no sitting as king. For all purposes, he
did perform the legal sanctioned role of ruler over the people of God, and
administrator of the land. Zerubabbel took charge and lead his people out of the
bondage that had been Babylonia, just as Moses had lead the Israelites out of
bondage in Egypt. Then, like Joshua, Zerubbabel lead the people into the
promised land. Like David, Zerubbabel gathered the materials for the
construction of the Temple. And then, like Solomon, Zerubbabel built a Temple
for God in Jerusalem. Zerubbabelís performed no miracles like those God
performed through Moses, and he was not a general of victorious armies like
Joshua, and he is not called a man after Godís own heart like David was
called, and neither did he possess the wisdom of Solomon; however, Zerubbabel
did manage to perform the all of the same major objectives that Moses, Joshua,
David, and Solomon had performed individually. Also, where they had failed in
their personal lives, Zerubbabel did not. But it was not Zerubbabel who
accomplished these things, it was the Holy Spirit of God working through him.
The Word of God to Zerubbabel was this: ďnot by might nor by power, but by my
Spirit, says the Lord Almighty. What are you, O might mountain? Before
Zerubbabel you will become level ground. The he will bring out the capstone to
shouts of God bless it! God bless it!Ē (Zechariah 4:6-7). Zerubbabel succeeded
because he did not rely on his one human nature, neither did he proceed down a
way that he personally thought was right. Instead, Zerubbabel let the Holy
Spirit work though him, just as Christ did during His work on earth. Just as
Zerubbabelís work was drawn out, and involved enemies who sought to destroy
the Temple work. The same was true for Christ, who initially was accepted and in
favor with the people, later however, many of them turn away from Christ and His
message. Zerubbabel became disillusioned by the difficulty and struggles that
confronted him, it was only by the Spirit of God that he was able to accomplish
his task, Zerubbabel also had the support and help of the High Priest Jeshua,
the elders and others among the people. Christ, on the other hand, found that
all the people, including His closest disciples, turned away from him when He
laid the foundation for the new Temple of God. However, like Zerubbabel, Christ
accomplished his task by the power of the Holy Spirit. In both cases, it was the
will of God that prevailed by the power of His Holy Spirit, through servants who
yielded their will to His. It should also be noted that Zerubbabel lead Godís
people back to take possession of the land. Christ, also, will lead the saints
back to take possession of the land during His millennium reign (refer to Rev 19
and 20). Upon completion of the Temple the people became one in their dedication
of both themselves and the Temple, to Godís will. Zerubabbel by the power of
the Holy Spirit accomplished Godís will and purpose for the salvation of His
people in that time. But more importantly, what was accomplished pointed to a
future time when the greater son of David, the Messiah Jesus would come to the
Temple. It is, also, important to understand that the fourth oracle by Haggai in
2:20-33 was addressed to Zerubabbel under the Davidic covenant. As previously
noted, he was a descendant of the line of David through Jehoiachin. In the book
of Jeremiah, God had earlier likened Jehoiachin to a signet ring on His hand
that He would be pulled off and discarded (Jer 22:24-25). In Haggai, God uses
the same imagery of the signet ring, however He reverses it, this time
describing Zerubbabel, a descendant of Jehoiachin, as a valued signet ring on
the hand of God. This confirms that God had reaffirmed the Davidic covenant with
the line of David. Zerubbabel is, now, shown to be one of the Davidic covenant
whoís Godís wrath is non-longer upon. He becomes a legal substitution for a
king, in order to perform a work under the Law that Christ would, later, perform
under Grace. For Zerubbabel it was the rebuilding of the Temple for God to dwell
in, a place for Godís people to come and seek forgiveness through sacrifice.
Zerubbabel, however, rebuild a new Temple, much different from the type and kind
that Solomon had constructed in all of its earthly glory. But Solomonís glory
failed because his human nature did not keep focus on God. This was the same
loose of focus that the first ruler that God placed in the world had: Adam. Adam
lost the communion of heart with God. Christ would restore that ability for all
people to have that communion by building a new Temple in the hearts of those
who accepted Godís Grace, thus making it each born-again person a living
Temple that God indwells. This new Temple of the human heart being born-again
was as radically different from Zerubbabelís Temple. The parallels are that
each, Zerubbabel in his work of restoring the physical Temple to the people, and
Christ in his work of restoring the heart to God, were performing Messianic
functions in Godís process to restore man to Himself. Both were endued and
acted by the power of the Holy Spirit, with Zerubbabelís work pointing toward
Christ. Likewise, Zerubbabelís Temple was quite different from Solomonís
Temple. Zerubbabelís Temple lacked the grandeur of the one build by Solomon;
the land, also, was far less glorious than in the days of Solomon when the first
Temple was built. There were meager resources, causing some of the people to
fail to realize that God was not interested in the grand scale of the Temple,
but rather in the hearts of men. Many of the people, also, failed to realize
this same thing when Christ came. The result was that while the Jewish nation
rejected Christ, the gentile nations accepted Him. Also, it is without saying
that Haggai, Zechariah, and their contemporaries desired to have the gentile
domination ended in Jerusalem, and Davidic rule restored in their own time;
however, Zerubbabel would not be this Davidic king. Instead, he would point
forward to an eschatological day when God would shake the heavens and the earth
as stated in Haggai 2:6-7, 21. Gentile domination, basically, remained upon the
land, and was still in control when Christ came. The reason was that in Christ
time, just as in Zerubbabelís time, God used the gentiles to keep the
hard-heartedness and stiff-neckness of the Israelites under control. The people
had proven to God time and time again during their history that they could not
be trusted to maintain their responsibility to keep the Temple and their
covenant unless their was physical control over them. God chose to use a gentile
sword to keep them in under control until His purpose and will was fulfilled
with Christís work on the Cross. Zerubabbelís administration as a Davidic
prince was part of the process to prepare the Jewish nation for the coming of
the true Messiah. Zerubbabelís rebuilding of the Temple was only a provisional
step in anticipation of the events to come. It is in approaching the New
Testament that the Zerubabbelís work reaches forth in time. The visible
presence of God would not, finally, appear in the second Temple until Jesus came
and as is described in John 1:14, ď The Word became flesh and made his
dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who
came from the Father, full of grace and truth.Ē In fulfillment of Godís plan
for humanity, the wealth of nations came to Jerusalem in the gifts of the
gentile wisemen (Matt 2:1-12). The new Temple of Christ was to be made of living
stones, Jews and Gentile alike (1 Cor 3:16-17; 1 Peter 2: 4-10). Zerubbabel
rebuilt the earthly temple with earthly stones, and it was a Temple that no
gentile could help reconstruct or enter into the congregation to worship God.
Christ kingdom, however, would be a new kingdom, one that transcends the world
and rules over all things. Zerubbabel administered an earthly realm that was
ruled over by a gentile ruler, who himself could not enter into worship with the
congregation in the Temple that Zerubbabel had built, but limited only to the
outer court. Yet, just as gentileís brought their wealth to Christ, symbolic
of the wisemen, so did the gentile ruler who sent Zerubbabel to rebuild the
Temple supply the wealth of the nations for construction. Both Christ and
Zerubbabel introduced the Temple of God to the nations, each performing their
own task, with Zerubbabelís work pointing toward Christ. The final end of the
process is spoken of in Rev 21, with all things being only a step toward the
consummation of all things, which will be made new again, and the dwelling of
God will be with men. The election of Zerubbabel to go and rebuild the Temple
was tied to more than the inauguration of a Davidic prince; it can be likened to
Christ coming and rebuilding the relationship structure between God with man.
The work of each prefigures a cataclysmic change in the cosmos (Haggai 2:6-7,
21-22). The writer of Hebrews views this eschatological age as already having
been inaugurated in the person of Christ (Heb 12:26-29). In closing, the Temple
that Zerubbabel rebuilt was only for the remnant that God had chosen to
reestablish in the land. The work of Zerubbabel through the Holy Spirit made it
possible for those whoís hearts were bent toward God to come back to Him and
have a Temple to worship in. More notably, the work of Christ was to allow all
who want God to be able to have Him live within their heart, and they themselves
be a living Temple, and to have an intimate relationship with God.
Unfortunately, just as in Zerubbabelís time, there will be only a remnant of
people, out of all of humanity, whoís heartís will turn to God for His
salvation.
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