Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Devotion 6. Jacob’s Prophecy

Jacob functioned as a prophet on his deathbed. He spoke the Lord’s word for the future of his sons and their descendants. He said “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in the days to come.”

Once the sons were assembled, Jacob gave a word for each one concerning their character and destiny. Rueben, as the first born, would normally have assumed leadership of the family. But he disqualified himself when he slept with one of his father’s concubines. Jacob had not gotten over it, he even exclaimed “he went to my couch!” a second time as if he could still not believe it.

The next sons were Simeon and Levi. They were disqualified because of their violence. They slaughtered Hamor and Shechem and all their family because Shechem had defiled their sister. (Genesis 34:27)

The Levites later distinguished themselves by supporting their brother, Moses, when Israel made and worshipped the golden calf while Moses was on the mountain receiving the terms of the covenant. So they served in the temple, but they did not lead the nation or have an allotment in it.

So, the leadership passed to Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. He had troubles in his past, yet the Lord chose him to lead. Here are Jacobs words in Genesis 49:10:

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

The tribe of Judah became the leading tribe. When the ark was finished, the Lord gave instructions on how the Israelites were to march to Canaan. The tribe of Judah was to go first. Numbers 2:9. They were led by a man named Nashon. Every morning, Nashon would go to the front of the congregation, next to the standard bearer with the flag showing the lion of the tribe of Judah, and start the march. Their symbol was the lion, for Jacob had declared that Judah was a lion.

I love that image of Nashon, standing before the congregation of a million or so Israelites, stepping out in faith, following the cloud of the presence of the Lord, the elder brother of a vast family of believers. He is a type of Christ in this, who is the firstborn of many brethren that God chose to be in his family. Romans 8:29.

God preserved that line through the good and bad times. Eventually, God gave Judah over to its enemy, Babylon, for Judah’s idolatry. They were defeated, Jerusalem and the temple destroyed, and the survivors taken to Babylon in exile for 70 years. No king ever took the throne in Jerusalem again.

But of course, God kept his word. He preserved the line of Judah. In the fullness of time, he brought the Forever King, Jesus, into the world. Matthew showed him to be of the line of Judah. (Matthew 1:3) Luke did the same in Luke 3:33. Note that Nashon is also in that line. (Luke 3:32)

Revelation 5:5 closes the loop for Judah. It says Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, prevailed.

Jesus has prevailed over Satan, sin and death. He will prevail, putting all his enemies under his feet. Then he will reign, and we with him, for eternity.

I wonder if he will fly the flag of Judah.
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