Friday, March 29, 2019

The Blessing of Judah

Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you” (Genesis 49:8).

Like Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, Judah also committed a horrible sin that could have disqualified him from inheriting the blessing of the firstborn. The events recorded in Genesis 38 show him to be as unstable and untrustworthy as his brothers. Also, it was Judah who came up with the plan to sell Joseph into slavery (Genesis 37:26–27). We find, however, that Jacob passes the rights of the firstborn to Judah. Judah will be like a lion, the king of beasts, and thus will rule his brothers. He will receive rich blessings, washing his garments in the best of wine.

What accounts for this? The answer is found in Genesis 43:9 and 45:18–24. In these verses, we see Judah’s repentance. Unlike the first three brothers, Judah changed his ways. He had abused Joseph, but now he offers his own life as a ransom for Benjamin. He leads his brothers in repentance for their sin and because of this change of heart, he shows that he is ready to be the ruler in the family.

Jacob tells Judah that the scepter of rule will not depart from him until “Shiloh” comes (Genesis 49:10). This expression is also translated “until he comes to whom it belongs” and “until he comes to whom tribute belongs.” We are not exactly sure of the precise meaning of the Hebrew term found here. We can be sure, however, to whom it refers. The ruler’s staff will remain with Judah until someone comes, and after that there will be no more successors in the tribe of Judah to bear the crown. In time a son of Judah and of Judah’s descendant David, will come to the throne, but this son will have no successors. The Greater Judah will reign forever, not only over Israel but also over all the nations.

The blessing is not only rulership but also prosperity (v. 11). As the sign of Melchizedek’s reign was bread and wine, so the sign of Judah’s blessing is also wine. So huge will be Judah’s vines that it will be possible to tether a donkey to them, and the donkey will not be able to pull away. So plentiful will be the harvest that the price of wine will fall to the point where wine will be used for washing clothes. As the reign of the son of Judah will extend to all nations, so will His wine.

Christ before His death (in the Upper Room), in His death (with the repentant thief and believing centurion), and by His death (for His brothers and sisters of faith) lavished blessings upon His people. As you observe Christ’s death today consider how you have been blessed by Him.