Here is another extracts from The Glory of the Story, my father’s devotional introduction to biblical theology in the form of 366 daily readings which show how the Old Testament story is fulfilled in Christ. The Glory of the Story is available as a Kindle book for $2.99 from amazon.com and £1.99 from amazon.co.uk. I’m posting extracts from the chaper on the story of Jacob, usually on the first Monday of the month.
1. Jacob’s prophecy
Read Genesis 49:8-10. In tracing the history of Jacob and his family we need to understand the special role Judah, the fourth son, plays in the total story. Jacob prophesies on his deathbed that Judah will be praised by his brothers and from him will come one whose right it is to rule. We might have expected Joseph the experienced governor and morally upright son to succeed as clan head, but it is to Judah, not Joseph, that Jacob sees his sons bowing (8).
2. The nation of Judah
The tribe of Judah is given the leading role as the tribes march through the desert (Num. 2:9; 10:14). When, in later history, the ten northern tribes revolt and establish their own monarchy (1 Kgs. 12:16-17), Benjamin joins the small nation of Judah, and Jerusalem remains the capital city ruled by the dynasty of David. The nation continues until 586 BC when Judah is invaded by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and most of the citizens taken into exile. Never again does a human descendant of David sit on an earthly throne.
3. Judah and the Messiah
Jacob’s prophecy, however, looks beyond the nation of Judah to a ruler to whom the nations will give their obedience (10). No doubt Jacob’s faith is quickened by all that God has achieved through putting Joseph on the throne of Egypt. As we will discover, God’s promise and purpose come to focus on the royal line of David from the tribe of Judah.
Just as David will be born in Bethlehem, so will the coming Christ (Mic. 5:2). Jesus is born in Bethlehem of Judea (Matt 2:1), a descendant of David and of the tribe of Judah (Luke 2:4, 11; Rom. 1:3). As the term ‘Jew’ was commonly used to refer to the people of Judah (Jer. 52:27b-30), this may shed light on the words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman, ‘salvation is from the Jews’ (John 4:22).
4. Judah and the future
Judah is the lion of the tribes (9) and so Jesus is fitly styled the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5). But he displays a finer strength than that of the lion, for he is also the slain lamb (Rev. 5:6). He, and he alone, is able to open the scroll so that all God’s purposes in history can be unfolded.
With a truly thankful heart, read again Genesis 49:10.