Monday, August 4, 2014

"The scepter will not depart from Judah ..."

Day #220:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - August 5th

Scripture Reading:  I Chronicles 1 - 4 ...

As Jacob, the son of Isaac, blessed his sons in Genesis 49, he said to 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.  ... The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until HE comes to whom it belongs, and the obedience of the nations is HIS!"  (Genesis 49:8-10).  That promise of God explains the genealogy in our reading for today.

I and II Chronicles follow I and II Kings.  While the books of the Kings focus more on the political climate at the time, the books of Chronicles focus on the "structure" of the nations of Israel and then of Judah, and the religious climate, specifically what is going on in the temple.  All of this leads up to the fall of Jerusalem.  It is impossible when talking about the people of God to separate what was going on politically with what was going on with the temple.  The people of Israel and of Judah were (ARE!) a special people to the Lord.  God showed that He was with the people through the temple and the priests and the sacrifices and the feasts.

As God sent the prophets to speak to the people, He warned them of judgment and called them to return to Him, but they rejected God over and over again.  The amazing thing throughout this period of history, as the nations of the world were in constant turmoil around God's people, is that God maintained His promise to Judah and the genealogy in Chapters 2-3 point to God's faithfulness.  You find a list of the kings of Judah in Chapter 3 ... ALL from the tribe of Judah.  While the kings in Israel changed family lines repeatedly, that was not the case in Judah.  It couldn't be, because the Messiah, the ONE who would rule over not only Israel, but the nations, would come from the line of Judah.

When you get to the New Testament the tracing of the lineage of Jesus was not by accident.  If Jesus was not from the tribe of Judah by His physical descent, He could not be the Messiah.  Paul writes to the Romans that he was "a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God - the gospel He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding His Son, who as to His human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead:  Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:1-3).

And Paul ends his letter to the Romans by saying that God revealed the mystery of the gospel "through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey HIM (Jesus) ..." (16:26).  Undoubtedly, Paul was thinking of Genesis 49:10 and God's promise to bring the Messiah, the Christ, the "Anointed One," the KING, through the line of the tribe of Judah!!  Such a plan could never have been conceived by the mind of sinful men, let alone carried out over a period of hundreds of years ... two thousands years from the time of Abraham.  God's hand is in all of this, even as His hand is in the activities of the nations all over the world today, and especially, the nation of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Even the fact that we read of the other clans of Judah in these chapters, which are then followed by the others sons of Jacob and their genealogies, reminds us that it is God's sovereign choice that determined that the Savior would come from Judah.  That the nation of Israel exists today and the Jews exist as a people point to a sovereign God who desires to make Himself known.  To know the God of the Bible is to know the only true God, our Creator, and to know the God of Israel.  The Church today exists not on its own or as a replacement for these people, but as the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3:  "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples (nations) on earth will be blessed through you."

Far too many people, even those who claim to believe in Christ and who are part of the visible church, know nothing of God's promises and seem to think that Christianity is no more than a personal preference as one of many possible choices of religions.  I have even been told by more than one person that they know someone who WAS a Christian, but who changed to a different religion.  I am quick to tell them that is impossible, because anyone who is born again by the very Spirit of the one true God cannot and will not deny Christ or turn away.  John writes in I John 2:18-19:  "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.  This is how we know it is the last hour.  They went out FROM US, but they did not REALLY belong to us.  For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us."

No true believer has EVER left the true Church, the body of Christ.  No true believer has or ever will turn away from Jesus Christ and deny Him.  Some may wander or drift or doubt for a time, but if they belong to Him, He will bring them back, for Jesus promised that not ONE of His sheep, that the Father had given Him (chosen) would be lost, and He will raise them up at the last day!  That's God's promise, based on His promise to Judah in Genesis 49:10:  "The scepter will not depart from Judah until HE comes ..."    Jesus is on the throne and very soon the obedience of the nations will be His, when every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Until then, give thanks for the evidence throughout Scripture that God is faithful to His promises and that He is at work today, as He was in the days of the kings, fulfilling His promises to those who trust in Him.

"Almighty and everlasting God, my Father in heaven, my Savior, I thank You for Your faithfulness and rejoice in the truth of Your Word.  I know I can count on You and trust You to keep Your promises.  In those moments when I don't understand what is going on in the world or in my own life, help me to see the big picture and to find my hope in You every day, for then I will find the peace I long for.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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