December 5, 2023
Picture: Lion of Judah
Genesis 49:8-12; Revelation 5:5
The room was full of expectation as the ancient man laying before them summoned the strength to address each son. Jacob, whose name was now Israel had known much strife but as his final moments settled into view the importance of his calling had not escaped him. He would bestow an identity through his blessing on the 12 families of the nation of Israel. He begins with Rueben, then Simeon, then he arrives at Judah. The nuance of Judah’s life had been as multifarious as his fathers. He had coordinated the sale of his brother Joseph into slavery, kept his son from playing the role of Kinsmen Redeemer, repented publicly for sinning against his son’s widow and offered himself as a substitute for his brother Benjamin. Despite the complexities of his character, Jacob blesses him as a royal bloodline.
Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
Binding his donkey to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
He washed his garments in wine,
And his clothes in the blood of grapes.
His eyes are darker than wine,
And his teeth whiter than milk.
Genesis 49:8-12 (NKJV)
It would take 640 years, but eventually king David of the tribe of Judah would occupy the throne in Jerusalem. The reign of David and his son Solomon would be looked back on as the golden age of Israel. But David would not be the true Lion of Judah. 1600 years after Jacob’s withering voice bestowed this blessing, the true Lion of the Tribe of Judah would arrive. However, he would not sit on a throne in Jerusalem, but hang on a cross courageously liberating those he came to rule from the enemy of their souls. As Jacob anticipates the coming of Shiloh, he speaks of Jesus. Shiloh means “He whose right it is." All of this language comes to great fulfillment in the throne room of heaven. In Revelation 5, we watch as John takes in the unfathomable glory of God, and yet he is troubled. There is an Angel holding a scroll that is sealed. John begins to weep because there is no one who seems able to break the seals and bring justice to the sin that had polluted mankind. Just then an elder turns to John and says,
Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.
Revelation 5:5 (NKJV)
As Spurgeon says, “The dying patriarch was speaking of his own son Judah; but while speaking of Judah he had a special eye to our Lord, who sprang from the tribe of Judah (Spurgeon). Jesus is the Lion from the tribe of Judah. He is Shiloh,” The one whose right it is” to judge sin and offer salvation to mankind. Generations of Jewish people thought this lion would shake off the oppression of Rome, but he had come to deal a death blow to the kingdom of darkness that had been ushered in by mankind’s sin. At Christmas, we are reminded that the Christ child’s cry would soon be a lion’s roar.