Friday, July 30, 2021

For Me?


“Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?  When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? – Zechariah 7:5-6

Sometimes we treat our relationship with God like a little child with a board of gold stars.  I’ll do this, and I’ll get a star.  I’ll do that, and I’ll get a star.  The star is what I want, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get it.

The Israelites had returned to their land after 70 years of captivity in Babylon.  They were taken captive because they would not worship God but chose to continue to worship idols.  And even after they were taken into captivity, the majority did not worship God.  Yet in that period of time they set aside time in the fifth month and seventh month to cry out and fast to God.  Why? Because this might bring them out of captivity. 

When they returned to their land, they came to Zechariah, the prophet, and asked if they should still perform these acts of so-called repentance.  God’s words back to them reveals that He knows our hearts – not just our actions.

God asked them “did you really fast for me – for Me?”.  That second ‘for Me’ emphasizes that they did not do it for Him.  Perhaps it was out of tradition.  They did it because their parents had done it and their grandparents had done it.  Perhaps they did it for other reasons.  I’ve heard several people talk about how much weight they lost when they were fasting.  Fasting with that in mind is not for God.  Neither is fasting because your whole church is doing it.  There’s nothing wrong with fasting together, but God says that it should be private. It’s to be seen only by God (Matthew 6:16-18).

What God wanted was not their acts of repentance, but their heart.  A heart that loves God is obedient to God.  In 1 Samuel 15:22 God says that “to obey is better than sacrifice”.  But that’s not the only time this is spoken in the Bible.  Proverbs 21:3 says, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.  Psalms 51:16 says, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.”  But what does it say about obedience?  John 14:15 makes it as clear as glass saying, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Friends, God doesn’t want our suffering.  He wants our love and respect.  He doesn’t desire us to look to Him as our slave master, but as our Father.  It’s not about earning a gold star, it’s about showing God our love for Him.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Two Signet Rings: The Story of Coniah and Zerubbabel

 "As I live," declares the Lord , "even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; and I will give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. – Jeremiah 22:24-25

‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord‘and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” – Haggai 2:23

The very thought of God wearing a signet ring intrigued me this morning as I read the above passages.  A signet ring was a ring with a specific carving on it to represent a person’s authority.  The signet would be pressed against a dollop of wax to seal a document and declare it to be sent under the authority of the person that owned the ring. 

The word Signet comes from the Hebrew word Hotam (Strong's H2368) which means to seal.  It is where we get our word ‘signature’. It is also related to the Latin word, signatura, which was the marking given by the owner to a sheep.  The thought of God having to wear a ring to show His authority is bizarre!  Yet, God expresses His authority though through the example of a signet ring.

The question then became, why would God give a signet ring to anyone? The stories of Coniah and Zerubbabel gives us the answer.  But we must go back a few generations on Coniah to understand God’s statement regarding removing the ring from Coniah’s hand.  We also need to look at the meaning of the names of the ancestors of Coniah.  They show us God’s heart towards His people. And by looking at what they did in office, we can also see God’s grace, and the reason for his imminent punishment and destruction of Judah.  Then we will understand the reason the ring is given to Zerubbabel.

Jehoiakim means “raised by Yahweh”.

Jehoiakim was the King of Judah when Jeremiah prophesied the words of God and the captivity of Judah.  Yet, he completely denied the warnings from Jeremiah, burned a manuscript of his prophecies, and ordered him to be arrested. In fact, if it had not been for some of his advisors, he would have had Jeremiah killed.

2 Chronicles 36 tells us that Jehoiakim was taken captive into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar II, who “bound him in bronze fetters”.  It also tells us in verse 8 “Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, the abominations which he did, and what was found against him, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. Then [e]Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place.

Jehoiachin means “established by Yahweh”.

Jehoiachin  was the son of Jehoiakim.  When his father was taken to Babylon, Jehoiachin was only 8 years old.  According to 2 Chronicles 36:9, he reigned three months and 10 days.  King Nebuchadnezzar took him to Babylon as well and made his uncle, Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.

Zedekiah means “justice of Yahweh”.

Nebuchadnezzar II appointed him King.  He reigned after the first capture of Babylon beginning at 21 years old, the beginning of God’s justice being served.

2 Chronicles 36:12-13 tells us that “He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the Lord.  And he also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear an oath by God; but he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord God of Israel. “   2 Kings 25:7 tells us that they killed his sons before his own eyes, then put out his eyes, bound him in bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon.

Coniah (also called Jeconiah) means “God will establish, God will fortify”.

Coniah, was the son of King Jehoiakim, which God spoke against in Jeremiah 22.  There He says of Coniah in verses 26-27, “So I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die.  But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return.”

During this period the 70 year captivity of Jerusalem and Judah continued in Babylon.  But there’s a beautiful passage in Jeremiah 23:5-6 between the exile and return where God says:

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:


Once the captives were freed, a new King took the throne.

Zerubbabel means “scattered to Babylon”. Which is what God had done through his justice for their idolatry and turning away from Him.

Zerubbabel was made King when the people returned to Judah.  God called him “My servant” which is also what He called King David.  God was looking to rebuild His relationship with His people, to rebuild the temple, and gather with them for His worship.  Zerubbabel was King when the temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt. He was also an ancestor to Joseph, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:12-16), THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS!

The lineage of Jesus is broken into three groups: 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 generations from David until the captivity of Babylon, and 14 generations from the captivity of Babylon till Jesus Christ.  The number 14, according to Bible Numerology, is a symbol of salvation and rescue.  

What God began as justice to a wicked people ended in salvation for all of us.

But what does this all mean relating to the signet ring?  A signet ring is also a symbol of family heritage.  When the prodigal son came home, one of the things his father gave him was a ring.  It was a sign of identity, just as the signet ring. 

Those that are saved by the righteousness of Jesus Christ are now God’s people.  Romans 8:16 says “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”  We are His children, carrying His lineage in our souls.  Ephesians 1:13 says "you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise."   A seal, symbolic of the seal of a signet ring.  He has placed His seal on our very soul! 

Are you one of God’s children?  Have you asked Jesus to rid you of your sins and become your righteousness?  Please pray a simple prayer and ask Jesus for forgiveness, for we are all sinners.  Believe on Him as the resurrected son of God.  He will save you and give you His Holy Spirit to live in your soul.  Friend, there are no gifts better than having the Holy Spirit with you!  He will never leave you!  Won’t you ask for salvation today? 

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…” – John 1:12