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Friday, November 24, 2017

Day 1: The Scepter for Judah

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples." - Genesis 49:10, ESV

Our first Advent Prophet lived almost 1900 years before the birth of Jesus. So our Advent reflections begin with an old man leaning on his staff in the land of Egypt. He had lived for 147 years. He had been known as a cheater and a schemer, having been driven from his father's house by his angry twin brother. He had worked hard for over 20 years in a foreign land, earning two wives and becoming a wealthy man. He had also seen his household torn apart by the consequences of his polygamy, as his children had fought with each other. For years, he lived thinking his beloved Joseph was dead. Finally, toward the end of his life, he had been reunited with Joseph, as his whole family had been saved from famine in the land of Egypt. 

Jacob the Hebrew, son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham "summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come." As the Spirit of the Lord empowered Jacob to prophesy, he foretold the destiny of each of his still-quarreling sons. 

Many of the sons of Jacob heard hard and sobering words from their father's lips. Reuben was cursed because of his gross sexual immorality. Simeon and Levi would suffer the long-term consequences of their endless violent feuding. After hearing the harsh words for his older brothers, Judah must have been anxious when Jacob said, "Judah . . ." But the words of Jacob's prophecy foretold greatness for the line of Judah:

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s sons shall bow down to you. . . 
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples." - Gen. 49:8, 10, NASB

These words would echo down through the centuries, until 900 years later, when a shepherd-boy from the line of Judah, David the son of Jesse, was anointed king by the prophet Samuel. So, it took 900 years for the words of Jacob to have any kind of fulfillment, and it would be another 1,000 years after David before they found their ultimate and true fulfillment in the coming of Shiloh, the Sent-one of the line of Judah.

Though it took 1,900 years, Shiloh came, and to Him indeed has come the obedience of the people, the honor of the nations. This Advent season, we're waiting for the return of Shiloh. We have been waiting for almost 2,000 years. As we wait, we know the promises of God never fail. Centuries come and go, powers rise and fall, but the words of God never fail, and the prophecy of Jacob reminds us of this beautiful truth today, at the beginning of Advent. 

Heavenly Father, Thank You for your faithfulness. We have grown so accustomed to politicians who break their promises, and so we can be cynical. Give us the grace to wait for the coming of Jesus with faith and patience and not with cynicism. Let us long expectantly for His return, knowing that You are always faithful to keep Your promises. In Jesus' name, Amen.     

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for reminding us in word and song of His faithfulness!