The Road to Bethlehem: The Empty Throne

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Matthew 1:12

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat tZorobabel:
The last leg of our journey to Bethlehem actually takes us away from Judah. it doesn’t take place in the promised land as with Abraham, Jacob, Rahab, or Ruth. There is no king in Judah and the throne of David is vacant.  The final group of people that God used to bring about the birth of His only begotten Son is found in the captivity of Babylon.
God promised Josiah that the approaching judgement would not come during his reign because he had a tender, pliable heart toward the word of God. However when Josiah died during a battle in Megiddo this reprieve ended. Jechonias (Jehoahaz in the Hebrew) took the throne and began to lead Judah back into idolatry. He was taken captive by Pharaoh-nechoh and died in Egypt and a puppet king was placed on the throne (2 Kings 23). Not too long after this God rose up the kingdoms around Judah which ended in His people becoming captives of Babylon. While Zorobabel would lead his people back to Judah and serve as Governor of this region under the Persian King Cyrus, the line of David would not regain the kingdom and the throne of David would remain empty until the Son of David, The Messiah would take His rightful place as King of Kings. 
Wow…that’s a lot of history! So let’s translate this into our 21st century lives. What can we learn from this to help us be better followers of Christ today? I think there are at least three things we can take away from our time in God’s word today…
1. Repentance brings Mercy – Josiah’s example of a tender heart should serve as a reminder of the place of repentance in our lives. When we read the Bible we are faced with a choice…Listen and Obey, Or Turn and Walk Away. Ken Haye from the Wilds Christian Camp puts it this way, “There are just two choices on the shelf: pleasing God and pleasing self.” When we choose to take what God’s word says, repent of sin and walk in the steps of Christ we will find the truth in Psalm 23:6, “Surly goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life..”
2. Sin brings Judgement – Jechonias, though raised by a godly father, turned away from the Lord when he took the throne. Perhaps he thought that God’s grace would bleed over to his reign and he was protected from God’s judgment. How many times do we mistake God’s long-suffering and mercy for permission to continue in our sin. We must not take His mercy for granted and instead let His long-suffering turn our hearts toward Him.
3. God gives Grace in the Midst of Captivity – As we see with Zorobabel even during the times where we find ourselves captive by the consequences of our sin, God never forsakes us. God is in the business of Redemption and Restoration and when you and I find ourselves captive to sin, we can turn our hearts back to Him and realize the freedom we can have in Christ!
Today as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ let us determine to keep our hearts on God. We must determine to have an attitude or repentance as we walk in His Mercy and Grace. And when we find our hearts drifting from God, may His patience draw us back to His presence.

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