zerubbabel the signet

 

The prophecy of Haggai concludes with a promise to Zerubbabel: “in that day, saith Yahweh of Hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith Yahweh, and will make thee a Signet: for I have chosen thee, saith Yahweh of Hosts” (Hag 2:23).

A Signet, or Seal, is an engraved device, usually on a ring, or other ornament.  When pressed into a suitable substance, such as wax or clay, it left a mark identical to it’s engravings.  The mark was unique to the owner of the seal, and rather like a signature, showed the identity of one who had, say, sent a letter (as in 1 Kings 21:8).  In Revelation 7, the Seal is used in a symbolic way, in a vision revealed to John:

“And after these things, I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow upon the earth, nor on any tree.  And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the Living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to who it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” (v 3).

Thus, four angels are seen holding back the four winds of Yahweh’s judgments.  And they are told by a fifth “angel”, to continue holding back the winds.  This angel, unlike the other four, was in possession of “the seal of the living God”.  This was because he had a different purpose.  The role of the first four angels was that of judgment, whereas the role of the fifth was that of sealing.

This fifth angel was a single angel.  Yet, he says, “Till we have sealed the servants of our God.  This one angel then, represents a multitude, who have a single purpose, to “seal” the servants of Yahweh (cp v 14) in their foreheads.  The forehead in Scripture can represent the mind.  The “seal” which this multitudionous “angel” possesses is engraved with certain principles, when are impressed upon the minds (foreheads) of the servants.  Thus, the seal is the Word of Yahweh, the principles of which become indelibly imprinted upon the minds of the faithful (see Eze. 9:4).  The multitudinous “angel”, or “messenger” as the Greek word means, therefore represents the multitude of preachers who sought to impress the principles of the Gospel upon the minds of those who would receive it.

It is interesting to note that there are a number of parallels in this chapter which link up with the prophecy of Haggai.  Firstly, both speak of a seal: Zerubbabel is to become a seal; the saints were to become sealed.  Haggai, as we have seen, speaks of the shortage of food and wine in the land.  But Revelation 7 gives the promise, “they shall hunger no more, neither thirst no more … for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them into living fountains of waters” (v 16,17).  And the servants who are sealed shall “serve” the Almighty “day and night in his Temple”, which Temple, Haggai informs us, will be filled with glory.  Finally, verse 9 describes the saints as being “of all nations” – a reference to Haggai 2:7.

But Zerubbabel was not promised that he would be “sealed”, rather he would become the seal itself.  In this matter, Zerubbabel stands as a Type of Christ.  No only was the Master “sealed” (Jno 6:27) by his Father, but he was an embodiment of the seal itself.  He was “the word made flesh” (Jno 1:14).  Not only did Jesus receive the seal, but he became as one with it.  He himself became the seal, as the words he spoke left their impression upon the minds of those who would hear them.  In the Song of Solomon chapter 8, the Bride speaks to her beloved: “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm.” (Song 8:6).  So, the bride is here portrayed as desiring to become a seal.  And so it will be that the immortalised saints will manifest the glory of Yahweh, as they seek to impress His Word upon the minds of the mortal inhabitants of the Age to Come.

But a seal was also a token of authority.  So, Pharaoh gave Joseph his seal, enabling him to make decrees.  And Mordecai was given the king’s seal for a similar purpose.  The word is also used of Coniah, a king who was given authority to rule, and make decrees over Judah.  But, as a seal which no longer makes a good impression, he was “plucked hence” (Jer 22:24).  And so, being promised to be the chosen Seal, Zerubbabel, as a type of Christ, is promised that he will be given the authority to rule by his Father in the future kingdom Age.  And as the Bride is to become a Seal also, this promise applies to us, if we show the faith of Zerubbabel.  This is the glorious hope we have, that we might show forth the likeness and image of our Master, and that we might be chosen to rule with him in the Age to come.

Christopher Maddocks