Genesis 49:10 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.
What do you know about the coming of the Messiah? We remember the promise of the seed of woman who will crush the serpents head. We remember the promise of the promised child of Abraham, the one in whom all the peoples of the earth would be blest. And tonight we learn of the promise given to Judah, that would cause the faithful to wait in expectation, until Shiloh comes.
Adam wasn’t perfect, neither was Eve, but they received the promise. Abraham wasn’t perfect, and neither was Sarah – we remember however that he believed, and his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness – and he received the promise. So it should come as no surprise that Judah wasn’t perfect either – but the story is instructive. Jacob had 12 sons, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, were all born to his 1st wife, Leah. As you remember Jacob’s favorite son was Joseph, and his brothers decided to do something about this – Simeon and Levi would have killed him, Reuben – the oldest, shows no leadership, but suggests throwing him down the well rather than shedding his blood – Judah suggests that perhaps it would be enough to sell him into slavery.
What else do we know about Judah? He married a Caananite girl, and had 3 sons, the oldest was wicked and died shortly after getting married, the second son was also wicked and was struck down – and Judah left his daughter-in-law, Tamar, waiting until the 3rd son came of age – and when that came and went she took matters into her own hands – it wasn’t right, but in the end Judah confesses that she was more righteous than he was. Tamar gives Judah twin sons, and the promise will come through that line.
Not much of an example, but it seems the best we’ve got to work with. Problem is that Joseph had played a key part, and his brothers do bow down to him – but in the end, the scepter and the promise is given to someone unsuspected – Judah. Why God chose Judah, we will never know – but one thing is clear – its not about genes, its not about rules, its not about tradition – if its about anything we can understand its about faith – but not the faith we can see, not outward appearances – rather this is about the faith in the heart.
Faith is almost always a promise for the future, and at the same time, a promise for now. Consider that after Israel went to Egypt, it would be 430 years before they would leave, and another 40 years before they would enter the promised land. And after Joshua, there would be the period of the Judges, and when it came time for the 1st King – he would not come from Judah, but from the tribe of Benjamin. When Saul turned away from God, then it was time to recall the promise, then it was time to turn to Judah, to Bethlehem, and to choose the youngest of the sons of Jesse –David.
But who remembers so long? God does! And David isn’t the whole story, he’s just another sign pointing to the one who is still coming – Jesus.