Is it possible that a man can change and then change his name to reflect that change? Is it possible that a man can totally repent? Is it possible that the curse on that man be reversed and he be brought into blessing? YES!!
In our next few names we see those changes.
“After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel” (Matthew 1: 12)
So is there a problem? The Chronicler (1 Chron 3:17) says Shealtiel’s father was Jehoiachin. Luke in his gospel says it is Neri and Matthew has the wicked king Jeconiah as father.
The easy bit, Jeconiah and Jehoiachin are the same person, he was also known as Coniah (Jeremiah 22: 28 KJV), a king of Judah taken into Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BC. God curses this man because he was evil, it is found in the same chapter in Jeremiah, God likens him to a signet ring he will pull off. He will be childless, never prosper and there would be no descendent ruling after him.
But where is Luke’s man, Neri?
Both Matthew’s genealogy and Luke’s are right. The Jews would have certainly questioned these important lists if they had been wrong, they have survived the test of time. Secondly, the early readers of these lists would have known the story thread of these lives which not unlike 2020 when the story of families seem to have many twists with their being many ‘father’ and ‘mother’ figures and children being adopted into new names etc.
What could have happened very simply put is either there was a levirate marriage once Jehoiachin was taken into Babylon (his wife being permitted to take another, being Neri) their firstborn, Shealtiel, would have legally been Jehoiachin’s son; or there was an adoption process taking place, in that Neri was actually Shealtiel’s grandfather but who had no sons so was permitted to take the sons of his eldest daughter who was married to Jehoiachin. Or even the adoption took place after Jehoiachin’s death, Neri taking Shealtiel has his adopted son.
Unless of course there is a simpler solution …!
That is that God reversed the curse on Jeconiah because he repented in Babylon. Indications of this can be found in that the ‘signet ring’ references are found down the generational line in Zerubbabel’s blessing. Plus rabbinical sources say he did! If that be the case then as was popular custom, a name change wasn’t out of the ordinary to indicate a new day, the most famous being Abram to Abraham.
Then his name was changed to mean ‘God is light’ the darkness was over, he was a changed man and actually the curse was then reversed. He did have children, he actually did prosper (2 Kings 25:27-28) and he did have descendants on David’s throne, ending with Jesus.
God is still changing lives in 2020 as much as thousands of years ago!
So who was the father? Neri, Jeconiah, Coniah or Jehoiachin? Yes, that man!
A man who God changed in captivity. He still does this miraculous work today!
The Hebrew actually means “I asked El (for this child)”. Zerubbabel is an answer to Shealtiel’s prayer to God (El) for a child.
The final element of his name is El, which was the prominent Canaanite god but whose name became applied to the God of Israel, for example, Elohim which simply means God.
So did Jeconiah name him so because he had this change of heart, a change of worship from that of a god (el) to God? It could well be.
Shealtiel spent his whole life being reminded every day he was the outcome of a request to God for his life from a father who had a changed heart.
Do you have someone who appreciates you that much?
May be you can begin to list names: your parents, grandparents even, that close friend who has always been there and has prayed for you through it all, your spouse, your Church leader, the list can go on. But you have names of people who either prayed for your life or prayed for you to live in this life. Thank them today.
Born in captivity after his parents had been exiled into Babylon he finds himself the governor over Judah and sent back to Jerusalem to begin to build the Temple.
He found no excitement whatsoever from the people. He faced major opposition from God’s people, it was unbelievable! Fifteen years passed by and he had to be empowered by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to commence the Temple rebuild.
I end this blog with the words that we all need to carry in our hearts. Change of heart comes from the Lord. It is not by pressure from peers or programmes and events, it is the Spirit’s work. One day the prophet said to him: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)
A verse we all know and still pray for.
Who needs a change of heart in your family, friendship circle etc? These kings remind us it can happen!