Nehemiah 12 Commentary
After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Matthew 1 verse 12. From the Book of Kings as well as the Book of Chronicles, we remember Jeconiah as an eighteen-year-old king who spent the rest of his life in exile. He would father Shealtiel who in turn fathered Zerubbabel. And that is part of the lineage of the LORD Jesus Christ.
In the midst of confusion and uncertainty, the LORD still preserved the seed. Creation was still waiting for Abraham’s seed through whom the nations would be blessed. We would also think the long gone David was wondering what had become of the LORD’S promise for an everlasting dynasty. Zerubbabel is carrying the all-important seed. Is Zerubbabel the shoot that would come up from the stump of Jesse? We need to read further to discover more. For now, this chapter would focus more on the priesthood.
The priesthood appears to still have some form of structure. Several individuals and generations are mentioned by name. This non-political office still functioned without too much disturbance. Interestingly, there is a line of prophecy that is as silent as its publicity, but clearly not least important.
As we can see in this chapter, the priesthood is leading the people in offering thanksgiving, praise, and worship. The wall must be dedicated but not until its purification. The priesthood is the only institution authorized to carry out this very important function. In addition and importantly, the people must also be purified before they can engage in any form of interaction with the LORD.
But the priests are mere mortals who, as we learn from the Book of Hebrews, are unable to perfectly perform this duty.
In the LORD Jesus Christ, we have this very important institution fully represented and completed. He is the Chief Priest who perfectly purifies the ‘available and willing’ souls. Then they are ready to offer thanksgiving, praise, and worship to the Creator God.
The brief mention of Zerubbabel at the start of this chapter, and the expanded coverage of the priesthood gives us an interesting picture. The promise of the seed, or scepter as the patriarch Jacob would put it, rested with Zerubbabel. But its significance was clearly dying out as evidenced by a clearly biased ‘media coverage’ here. The scepter represented the hope and desire for the lost dominion or the rule mandate that the LORD bestowed on mankind. The priesthood, on the other hand, represented the means by which men and women interacted with the Creator God.
Here is the point: let the New Testament priests continue to function. We can still interact with our God, even when the rule or scepter appears to have a less impressive footprint. But it is still there. The rule of the Christ is not dead. At an appropriate time, it will all come good to perfection. The LORD has it all planned and nothing is working out of place.
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