Christianity 201

May 21, 2014

Ring of Authority

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:46 pm
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Haggai 2: 23 “‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

In the first verse above, the Lord grants authority Zerubbabel the authority to act in his name.  But the verse in Matthew is a reminder that authority rests in Christ alone, and that as we go and make disciples we go under the authority of Christ.

The Encylopedia of the Bible states:

The signet was used to impress its owner’s signature on various seals and documents. The ring was pressed into a soft substance, thus leaving the mark of the ring on the seal permanently. Some of these rings were made of precious metals and jewels.

Their use dates back to the Egyptians and Babylonians. Some signets were worn around the neck, others on the finger. Many examples of such signets have been found in Egypt and Babylonia. See Seal.

At the blog FaithChurchOnline, it’s pointed out that the signet ring’s equivalent in our day might be the seal of the Holy Spirit

The impression of the signet ring on a document was how a contract was sealed to be permanently binding. Just as the Lord chose Zerubbabel as His signet ring seals it, so has the Lord gave you, as a believer in Christ Jesus, the permanent seal of ownership with His Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph.1:13). If you are a believer, the Lord has marked you as His own forever!

I could not help but be reminded of the modern hymn, Freely, Freely:

God forgave my sin in Jesus’ name.
I’ve been born again in Jesus’ name
And in Jesus’ name I come to you
To share his love as he told me to.

He said ‘Freely, freely you have received;, freely, freely give.
Go in my name, and because you believe others will know that I live.

All pow’r is giv’n in Jesus’ name
in earth and heav’n in jesus name
And in Jesus’ name I come to you
To share his pow’r as he told me to.

He said ‘Freely, freely you have received;, freely, freely give.
Go in my name, and because you believe others will know that I live.

God gives us life in Jesus’ name
he lives in us in Jesus’ name
And in Jesus’ name I come to you
To share his peace as he told me to.

The blog FreshRead provides more detail on the choosing of Zerubbabel in context:

A signet ring was a way to sign documents – a king or governor would have a uniquely designed symbol the would be on a ring, and that would be applied to a wax seal to make an impression. Hence a document or decree was “signed and sealed.”

It was valuable, and could be entrusted to another to use “in the name of” the actual owner.

Background to this text is important.  In Jeremiah 22:24-30 the next to last King of Judea, Jehoiachin is said to be rejected, as if the Lord removed him like a signet ring and tossed him away.  The end of the passage says  that no descendant of his will sit on the throne.

So when his grandson Zerubbabel is given this message, it is a reversal of the judgment previously given.

Christians would read that as the nature of the Gospel – the curse is reversed.  There was nothing in particular about Zerubbabel to merit the restoration – it would seem to be grace not merit.

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