When Judah fell to Nebuchadnezzar and the people of the land were taken into exile in Babylon, the focus of God’s word also seemed to take a turn, as if He were turning a page to begin a new chapter.
The scriptural account of the many kings in the line of David, which had taken up so much of God’s attention up until this point, was suddenly over. Instead, the Lord’s word would be centered on prophecy about future kingdoms – the eternal throne of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Gentile leaders of world empires who would rule until Messiah begins His reign, and the adventures of the series of prophets God would choose to deliver these messages. These would be interesting adventures, to say the least.
All of this prophecy was not new – the prophet Isaiah had as much or more to say about the coming messianic kingdom as he did about the contemporary kings he was serving. The prophet Jeremiah also had much to say about the future. His job of giving final warnings to the kings and people of Judah was now complete, and he was taken into Egypt, where he presumably lived out his days in peace. But God would add much more to our understanding of the coming kingdom of heaven through new prophets called out by Him while in exile in Babylon.
Instead of a string of kings, the messianic line of David now took the form of a series of fourteen governors who would hold the genealogy in place until Jesus Christ arrived to take His rightful place on the throne in David’s line.
Matthew’s genealogy continues:
12 After the Babylonian exile:
Jehoiachin was the father of Shealtiel.
Shealtiel was the father of Zerubbabel. Matthew 1:12 (NLT)
Aside from the two listed here, there would be no significant biblical mention of the remaining twelve governors. Instead, God’s attention will now be focused on two “major” prophets of the exile – Ezekiel and Daniel. These two prophets will be joined by other “minor” prophets and other interesting biblical characters who will play important roles through the remainder of the Old Testament. They will all be part of our meditations on the last third of the genealogy of Jesus to help us learn from the Spirit’s impact on their faith journeys and to strengthen our own spiritual walk each day.
Prophecy will give us great insight into the workings of God’s kingdom. We will take a peek behind the heavenly curtain to see a number of things that are not a part of our everyday experience or consciousness. Things that are there around us, but often difficult to see or even comprehend. Like the book of Revelation that these prophecies feed into, we may not understand everything about them, but we will be strengthened and matured each time we delve in and experience them.
We start with the call of Ezekiel, a priest who had been taken into Babylon and found himself living along the Kebar River, a tributary of the Euphrates, deep in the heart of what is now the country of Iraq.
1 On July 31 of my thirtieth year, while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. 2 This happened during the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity. 3 (The Lord gave this message to Ezekiel son of Buzi, a priest, beside the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians, and he felt the hand of the Lord take hold of him.) Ezekiel 1:1-3 (NLT)
God was turning the page. A new prophet with a new mission was being called, and more of the Lord and heaven would be revealed through him.
Has God ever helped you to turn a page in your life?
If life is like a book, we have been given many chapters. Each one is full of gifts, challenges, joys and heartaches. But God is always there to love us and will never leave us nor abandon us.
Lord, thank you for the many chapters and seasons of life that You have given me to experience. Help me to trust and honor You as I seek to follow Your will. Use me and my remaining story to help build out the coming kingdom of heaven. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.