As much as we would like for Him to be, Jesus will not ever be reigning on a physical throne in Jerusalem, ever. He will not be taking back Israel to hand it over to the Jews, He will not be restoring Israel to a David-Solomon period of glory, and He will not reign as a physical warrior present to rule over a redeemed physical world. This is an unpopular idea in today’s hyper-evangelical world, but it is absolutely a Biblical one.

Despite the fact that Jesus Himself put any notions of a physical kingdom (with Him at the helm) to rest (John 18:36), there are other passages that teach a spiritual Israel, instead of a physical Israel, such as Galatians 6:16, Romans 9:6-8, and Luke 17:21. Jerome (331-420), one of the most impactful writers of the early church, was also opposed to a literal kingdom, saying “The saints will in no wise have an earthly kingdom, but only a celestial one; thus must cease the fable of one thousand years.” Unfortunately, his words imply that the belief in a “thousand year reign of Christ” was a popular one 1700 years ago.

We have neither the time nor the space here to fully debunk a “thousand year reign of Christ” for the heresy that it is, but I would like to posit one very specific reason why Jesus simply can not reign on this earth as a physical King in Israel: because God the Father Himself said it could not happen.

Consider this verse from Jeremiah 22:30: 

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Write this man down childless, a man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.’”

Contextually, this passage discusses the fate of various wicked kings leading up to the ultimate fall of Jerusalem into Babylonian hands, beginning with Zedekiah (Jer. 21:11-22:9), then speaking of Jehoahaz (Jer. 22:10-12), Jehoakim (Jer. 22:13-23), and finally Jehoachin (Jer. 22:24-30). Side note: Jehoachin goes by multiple names in Scripture, such as Jeconiah (1 Chron. 3:16) and Coniah (Jer. 37:1).

Jeremiah 22:30 is important, not just in describing the fate of the kings that would be taken by Babylon, but in understanding the impact that this event had on kings in Judah from this point on. Functionally, this verse teaches one essential truth, that a descendant of Jehoachin will not “prosper” sitting on the throne of David. As if that wasn’t enough, Jeremiah even gives a specific location: in Judah.

If you talk to any “millenialist” (pre, post, whatever), they may have differing views on specific timelines of various events, such as what they have termed the “rapture” or “tribulation” periods, but all center around one basic premise, which is that Jesus will reign again for a thousand years in Jerusalem. This verse teaches that no descendant of Jeconiah will be able to do that, period.

But wait, what does that have to do with Jesus? Compare Jeremiah 22:30 with Matthew 1:11, which describes the lineage of Jesus:

“…and to Josiah were born Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.”

You read that right. According to Matthew 1:11, one of Jesus’ ancestors is – you guessed it – Jeconiah. Which means, according to the statement made in Jeremiah 22:30, Jesus – as a descendant of Jeconiah – can not reign in Judah.

This last point is important, because while Matthew 1 teaches us that Jesus can not reign as a physical king in Judah, the lineage in Luke 3, which puts Jesus in the lineage of Mary, shows that He is a king in a different sense. Notice that the lineage splits after David in both genealogies (Matthew 1 and Luke 3), with Luke following Nathan, one of the sons of David, and Matthew follows Solomon. Simply put, even though Matthew’s genealogy proves Jesus can not be a physical king in Judah, Luke’s genealogy shows Him to still be of the Davidic line, and hence, a King (1 Chron. 17:11-14).

In Biblical lingo, the prophecy about Jeconiah is called the “Blood Curse,” and is countered by millenialists who claim it does not apply to Jesus, because, after all, Jesus is not related to David by blood. As his adopted Son, rather than biological, it conveniently does not include Jesus, who they (still) claim will reign in Judah at some point.

The Scriptures make no such distinction between blood and adoption. In fact, under Old Testament law, a brother was obligated to “raise up” children for a deceased brother, if that brother died having no children (Deut. 25:5-6; Matt. 22:23-33). The whole point of this law was to not interrupt the genealogical line for a brother, but to provide offspring in his name. For this reason, whether through adoption or blood, Jesus was Jeconiah’s descendant. It should be noted as well that Jesus is not the only “wrinkle” in these genealogies. Both Matthew and Luke record a descendant of Jesus named “Shealtiel” who appears as both the son of Jeconiah (Matt. 1:12) and a man named “Neri” (Luke 3:27). What’s the difference? Shealtiel was most likely the biological son of one, and the legal son of the other, just like Jesus.

If Jesus was not a descendant of David, and thus immune to the “blood curse” of Jeconiah, then the Apostle Paul did not know about it, since he calls Jesus a “Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3). Millenialists can not have it both ways though: either Jesus was of the lineage of David, or He wasn’t. If He was, then He goes through the lineage of Jeconiah, which means He can’t reign on a throne in Jerusalem. If He wasn’t of the line of David, then that’s a whole different story entirely.

Last modified: January 22, 2019