An Ancestral Advent Day 22: The Son of Zerubbabel.

Matthew 1:12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel.

Luke 3:27. the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri.

You might remember that at King David the genealogies of Matthew and Luke diverge. Matthew follows David’s son Solomon’s line and Luke follows David’s son Nathan’s line. For the remainder of the genealogies the names are all different. That is until…Shealtiel and Zerubbabel.

Now I’m not going to lie, this creates a number of questions. Some easily answered, and some not so easily answered, at least not without a good flow chart. Questions like, are Matthew and Luke talking about the same Zerubbabel and Shealtiel? Or how could Shealtiel have two different fathers? But the real question is why would both Matthew and Luke make sure to include a guy named Zerubbabel in their respective genealogies?

Who was Zerubbabel?

Zerubbabel is a pretty important Old Testament figure. Zerubbabel led the Jewish exiles back to Jerusalem from Babylon. He organized the rebuilding of the temple. He restored Yahweh worship in that temple. He cared for the priests. He protected the people and the temple work from enemies. You can read all of this in the book of Ezra.

But more importantly, Zerubbabel obeyed the word of the Lord. He was motivated by the promises made to him by God through the prophets. Promises like this one:

Zechariah 4:6. 6 “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. 7 Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”

And this one:

Haggai 2:23. On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.”

Like Zerubbabel, Jesus too was empowered by the promises and the presence of God. And what about us? Can’t we be empowered by the same promises and the same presence of God in Christ? Aren’t we just as chosen for the work of God as Zerubbabel was? Are we not empowered by the same Holy Spirit and by his grace?

Zerubbabel had a choice to make in his waiting. Continue to live in exile in Babylon, or do the hard work of helping others worship the Lord. Zerubbabel made the right choice.


In your waiting for Christ are you living like an exile or are you building a life of worship and inviting others to join you? How might Christmas tempt you back into exile? How might it be a time to worship Christ by the Spirit?

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