Real People Real Savior: Part 9: Zerubbabel

Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.

Facing a desperate and hopeless situation? God has power to bring life!

Thomas D. Kock

Perhaps it was the most amazing day of Ezekiel’s life. God set him into the midst of a valley that was full of dry bones. Then God asked what sounded like a crazy question: “Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3). The answer would seem to be patently obvious: “Of course not!”


Sometimes you and I are faced with “Ezekiel moments.” I mean, there are times when life can feel oh-so-hopeless. Perhaps it’s a health issue, or a job loss, or the death of a loved one, or some combination of the above—and more. It can feel like we’re in the middle of the valley of dry bones. I can almost hear: “Son of man, can these bones live?” To put it differently, “Son of man, can I bring blessing to you in spite of the current circumstances or even because of the current circumstances?”

I fear that often our answer is, “Of course not!”

Ezekiel’s answer was amazing: “Sovereign LORD, you alone know” (Ezekiel 37:3). The answer is profound! And, it’s true.


In Ezekiel’s case, God caused that valley of dry bones to come to life. Bones reconnected to form skeletons, flesh and skin covered them, eventually breath entered into them, and they stood on their feet! Could those dry bones live? Oh yes, they could!

And so God can cause your “dry bones” to live too. In other words, yes, God can bring blessing to you no matter what your circumstances.

But there is more. God had a specific reason for giving Ezekiel this vision. The prophet served the exiles who lived in Babylon, far from their homeland in Judah. They thought their hope was gone and their bones were dried up. But God promised, “My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. . . . I will settle you in your own land” (Ezekiel 37:12,14).

And the man who would be the primary leader of those returning exiles? Zerubbabel! He would play an important role in leading a group of exiles back to the land of Judah and rebuilding the temple. In short, Zerubbabel was God’s instrument in a “resurrection,” as God brought his people out of their “graves” in exile in Babylon and back to the Promised Land. (Read more about Zerubbabel in the Old Testament books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah.)

What a critical promise! Why? Because the Savior was to be born in Bethlehem, in the land of Israel! He can’t very well be born there if there were no Jewish people living there. Jesus was born of the line of David. If the Jews didn’t have a recognizable nation, it would have been very hard to ascertain Jesus’ descent.

I doubt that Zerubbabel will take center stage in many churches this Easter Sunday. But Zerubbabel set the stage for the greatest event of all time, when Jesus rose from the dead. God brings life! He brought life to his exiled people; Jesus came to life; we have life too. It’s just as he promised.

The real people Matthew mentions in his opening chapter were all part of God’s plan. All God’s promises are amazingly and graciously fulfilled. And he did it for real people like you and me.

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This is the final article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.



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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 103, Number 4
Issue: April 2016

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