“Is this man Coniah a despised, broken pot, a vessel no one cares for? Why are he and his children hurled and cast into a land which they do not know? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the LORD: ‘Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days; for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David, and ruling again in Judah.'” (Jeremiah 22:28-30)
Good King Josiah had two sons by Hamutal, his first wife, named Eliakim (or Jehoiakim, 2) and Shallum (or Jehoahaz, 1). And byZebidah, his second wife, Mattaniah (or Zedekiah, 4). And Nehushta, Jehoiakim’s wife, bore him a son by the name of Jehoiachin (orJeconiah, 3). The names in red are the usual names by which the kings are known, and they were the last four Kings of Judah before the Babylonian captivity, in the order numbered above.
Now it might be expected that the sons of a good and faithful king like Josiah would follow in the footsteps of their father, but we are told that each of these kings “did evil in the sight of the Lord”. And so we learn that God has no grandsons.
Jeremiah rounds on Jeconiah, using a nickname to shame him. “Write this man down as childless.” This is a legal statement explained by the Lord in saying that none of his offspring would succeed to the throne of Judah. And in fact that came about. Jeconiah’s firstborn son was Shealtiel, and Shealtiel’s son was Zerubbabel, who was a leader in the return from captivity. But Zerubbabel was never crowned king.
“On that day, says the LORD of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, says the LORD, and make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:23)
Not a crown, but a signet ring. And so the Kingdom of Judah came to an end with Zedekiah, and although the line through to Jesus remained, as the genealogy in Matthew 1 shows, there was never another king.
In 1 Kings 2:45 we read, “King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD forever.” But in Psalm 132:11-12, “The LORD has sworn in truth to David; He will not turn from it: ‘I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body. If your sons keep My covenant and My testimony which I shall teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.'” The Lord’s promise was conditional upon his sons keeping the covenant. Not a single king was righteous in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and only a few in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. From what we read in Kings and Chronicles, Josiah was the last of the good men, by the word of Huldah the prophetess. After that the kingdom was shut down.
Isaiah heard the Lord speak, saying, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” (Isaiah 1:2) But Jeremiah cries out, “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD!” It was very trying for him as God’s prophet to witness continual departure from true godly living.
Here again we have a lesson from Jewish history. Last time we saw that men could not point to the Temple for defence from God’s judgments. Neither could they say that God would have to keep to His word, so there would always be a king. Furthermore, remembering the days of Eli, and his wayward sons, Hophni and Phinehas, the Lord showed that there was no guarantee for any man to remain in the Priesthood. The High Priesthood was discontinued from the line of Eli, and passed to Eleazar. None of God’s appointments are set in stone. They are all dependent on the faithfulness, devotion, and God-honouring of those in office. As it was then, so it is today. God’s eyes are upon all those in high office within the Church.