Today: [Ezekiel 19] Where are the Natural Descendants of Jesus? In Ez. 19 the prophet writes a lamentation for the line of the princes of David. There were four final kings in Jerusalem who sprang from godly king Josiah’s line. Each in turn were workers of ungodliness and finally in Zedekiah’s line that rule of the lineage of David came to an end. What light then does that shed on the promise of God to maintain the line of David forever? We then look in this study at what became of the line of David and answer the question as to whether any such surviving members of Jesus’ natural bloodline remain yet today.
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[Eze 19:1-14 KJV] 1 Moreover take thou up a lamentation for the princes of Israel, 2 And say, What [is] thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions. 3 And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men. 4 The nations also heard of him; he was taken in their pit, and they brought him with chains unto the land of Egypt. 5 Now when she saw that she had waited, [and] her hope was lost, then she took another of her whelps, [and] made him a young lion. 6 And he went up and down among the lions, he became a young lion, and learned to catch the prey, [and] devoured men. 7 And he knew their desolate palaces, and he laid waste their cities; and the land was desolate, and the fulness thereof, by the noise of his roaring. 8 Then the nations set against him on every side from the provinces, and spread their net over him: he was taken in their pit. 9 And they put him in ward in chains, and brought him to the king of Babylon: they brought him into holds, that his voice should no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel. 10 Thy mother [is] like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters. 11 And she had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bare rule, and her stature was exalted among the thick branches, and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches. 12 But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them. 13 And now she [is] planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground. 14 And fire is gone out of a rod of her branches, [which] hath devoured her fruit, so that she hath no strong rod [to be] a sceptre to rule. This [is] a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation.
Our chapter begins with a lamentation for the line of David. At the time of Ezekiel’s writing, Zedekiah is king and he is the last of the descendants of David to sit upon the throne in Jerusalem. Even down to the current day Zedekiah still holds the distinction of having been the last king to rule an independent kingdom in the southern kingdom of Judea. In 586 BC Nebuchadnezzar will conquer Judah and destroy the city of Jerusalem and the temple. Cyrus the Great of Persia will conquer Babylon and initiate events by which the city and the temple will be rebuilt by 515 BC. This is a promised restoration but it is important to realize that at this point Judea is restored as a province of the Median empire ruled by an appointed governor, not an independent kingdom. In 333 BC, Alexander conquers Persia and Judea comes under Greek rule, again not as its own kingdom but as a province under Alexander’s rule. In 63 BC, the Roman empire overtakes the middle east and Judea as a province continues under Roman governors and procurators. In 638 AD, Omar brings Jerusalem and Judea under Islamic rule and Jews are tolerated under his administration. In 1099, the crusaders take Jerusalem until 1187 when Saladin recaptures it and reestablishes Islamic governance in the area. The Middle East continues for several centuries to be characterized by unrest and nebulous governance until in 1917 General Allenby takes Jerusalem, setting the stage for modern times and the reestablishing of Israel as an independent nation in 1948. At no time in this checkered history from Zedekiah under the prophesying of Jeremiah and Ezekiel was any recognized king in the line of David found to sit on the throne of an independent state of Judah or Israel. That being the case what do we do with the prophesying of Jeremiah:
[Jer 33:17 KJV] 17 For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel;
Many skeptics point to this verse and others like it as a contradiction of the scriptures to known events in history. Notice the language however: the verse doesn’t promise a king or a kingdom in perpetuity. What the promise assures us is that though the kingdom, the natural kingdom of Judah may be dissolved (and was) there would yet be a lineage of David that would survive and be eligible to sit as king in Jerusalem, whether or not that actually happens. That being so – where is the lineage of David today. It is only found in Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father until the time appointed. What of Jesus’ descendants? Some fallaciously believe that Jesus was wed to Mary Magdeline and produced children from that alleged union. There is no proof of this historically. The relatives of Jesus, descended through His brothers and sisters born to Mary after the birth of Jesus were hunted down and destroyed in the first century first by the Jews and then by the Romans both of which wanted to make sure that none of those related to Jesus might survive to inspire the sect of the early Christians to bring additional instability to the middle east. The earthly line of David then was exterminated in the first century and none remain other than according to our faith and the testimony of scripture, the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father who lives and reigns forever and will one day return to claim His place of rule in the city of Jerusalem.
The lamentation of Ezekiel thus predicts the fall of the line of the princes of Israel as a lioness bereft of her cubs as the nations round about her over the timeline of history descend upon the city of Jerusalem time after time to destroy both it and her peoples. Ezekiel describes both one cub and then another either destroyed out taken in chains. These refer to the kings of Judah, sons of Josiah that were four in number, each set up by pagan rulers, each destroyed in turn. They are Jehoiakim, Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin and finally Zedekiah.
Verse 10 shifts the typology of the final generations of kings over Judah from a lion and her whelps to a choice vine once planted, then (v. 12) plucked up in fury and cast to the ground with the multitude of her branches. The vine is violently taken from her native ground and replanted in a dry and thirsty land. This was literally fulfilled when the king of Babylon after dealing with successive revolts and tumults in the region comes down and completely dismantles the governance of the area and expatriates every living soul from the empty shock of both the northern and southern kingdoms. Thus they land lay waste and barely with any inhabitant at all as verse 14 describes her as a vine whose branches have been destroyed and over whom no strong rod or scepter was capable of ruling over.
The lamentation is thus written and delivered by Ezekiel to the people as a dirge to be sung over and again from one generation to the next, down to our current day. Of the 24 books of the Jewish canon, Ezekiel is found among them, but was not without controversy in the early centuries after Christ. There were various problems the Jewish authorities had when reconciling the sayings of Ezekiel to other portions of the scripture, but ultimately it was accepted. The deep mysticism found in the book of Ezekiel and its profound lamentation of the loss of the natural kingdom of Judah constitutes Ezekiel’s writings for the mystical body of Jewish literature that eventually becomes what is known as the Kabbalah.
For Christians, we read Ezekiel, and the lamentation of chapter 19 with sobriety and humility. This nation was plucked up that the holy nation in the heavenlies founded by the death and resurrection of Jesus, might rise up in the earth including you and I as born again believers. We read of the idolatry and centuries of pagan practices in Israel from Moses day right down to Jeremiah and we take them as a warning to us as the community of the redeemed. Paul thus cautions us in Romans:
[Rom 11:18-21 KJV] 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest he also spare not thee.
If God in choosing not to spare the natural branches of a natural kingdom, we are instructed to walk in godly fear that the same might happen to Christianity for the same reasons as what fell out to natural Israel in Ezekiel’s day.
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