2014-Mar/April-Issue -Article 09-The Lion of the Tribe of Judah

2014-MarApr-104x136A Lamb and a Lion

“And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Revelation 5:5).

Len Griehs

The book of Revelation contains a powerful description of the time when Jesus assumes his kingly role to rule over the earth. The first ten verses of chapter five describe Jesus as both a slain lamb and a conquering lion. John the Baptist introduced Jesus with the words, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29,NKJV).

Jesus’ perfection, devoted life and ministry proved that he was worthy to be the ransom for Adam and the redeemer for man. While the ransom was paid by his physical death on the cross, the three-and-one-half years of his sacrificial death, from Jordan to Calvary, proved Jesus’ worthiness to inherit a new life and position upon resurrection. His resurrection as a divine spirit being was accompanied by authority from Jehovah God to apply the merit of his sacrifice on behalf of all men—first his followers during the Gospel Age and then for all others who have ever lived during the Millennial resurrection. “He was born to be a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death-death on a cross. So God raised him to the highest place. God made his name greater than every other name so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus-everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. And everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and bring glory to God the Father” (Philippians 2:8-11, New Century Version). In this passage, those “under the earth” must be raised to life again in order to bow to the name of Jesus. Thus the resurrection of all mankind provides an opportunity for each to know the true Jehovah God, to rejoice in His son, and to gain eternal life.

Opening the Book

The book described in chapter five of Revelation is in the form of a scroll. It has writing on the outside and as it is unrolled by breaking six successive seals, writing on the inside is revealed. It is the plan of God! “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne … stood a Lamb as it had been slain. … And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne” (Revelation 5:6,7, Ezekiel 2:8-3:3, Zechariah 5:1-4).

Jesus — the Lamb of the Gospel Age — was the one to reveal the gospel and with it the divine plan. Yet it was not until his resurrection as a divine spirit being and the holy Spirit was given that Jesus’ followers began to understand that plan. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). We should all be encouraged by Jesus’ assurance that, just as his Father revealed these things to him, so he will reveal them to us, his followers. “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). The anointed and elect of God are acceptable because Jesus first gave his life a ransom and entered the way of sacrifice himself. If faithful unto death, each member of Jesus’ elect bride will be joined with him in bringing learning and blessings to the resurrected millions. “And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon earth” (Revelation 5:9,10 ASV). It is then that Jesus will take up his work as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

Judah, the Lion

“Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Genesis 49:8-10).

In this blessing from Jacob on his second son Judah, he gives a special position to Judah and his heirs. This blessing consummated with Jesus’ victory over death. Reuben, the eldest son of Jacob, had forfeited his right as the first-born because of his sins against God. It then fell to Judah. This theme of the first rejected, the second accepted, appears throughout the scriptures. It first occurred when Adam was created perfect and was positioned to be the father of a perfect human race. When Adam disobeyed, he forfeited that right and it fell to Jesus, the last or “second” Adam. “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Jacob offered a blessing on Judah in four parts. Although this was a primary application to his son, Jacob’s first statement that Judah is a “lion’s whelp,” adds the fulfillment of this blessing in Jesus, the lion taking the scroll of Revelation five.

(1) Judah would be a leader

(2) Judah would conquer his enemies

(3) Judah would produce a royal line

(4) Judah’s role in life would change

Judah, the Leader

Jacob’s sons sojourned to Egypt to seek food during a severe famine. There they unknowingly came before their brother Joseph whom they had sold into slavery years before and who now ruled over Pharaoh’s empire. In this heartwarming reunion, Joseph first sent his brothers on their way with grain and a silver cup inside the bag given to Benjamin, the youngest, and Jacob’s favorite. It was a plan to test the sincerity of his brothers before Joseph revealed himself. When the silver cup was discovered in Benjamin’s bag by Egyptian soldiers, Benjamin was taken back to Joseph as a thief. There Judah took the lead appealing to Joseph. “Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house … and they fell before him on the ground.

“And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine? And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found. And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father. Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh” (Genesis 44:14-18). Joseph revealed himself and the 12 sons of Jacob were reunited and invited to reside in Egypt in refuge from the famine.

When years later, the Israelites left Egypt and began the journey to Canaan, it is the tribe of Judah that marched first. “In the first place went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah according to their armies: and over his host was Nahshon the son of Amminadab” (Numbers 10:14).

Forty years later the next generation of Israelites wandering in the wilderness turn north to enter the Promised Land. Judah receives the first portion. “This then was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah by their families; even to the border of Edom the wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast” (Joshua 15:1).

Jesus holds priority over all men. He was born on earth to lead the world from sin. As the ransom for Adam, he provided an opportunity for all men to find a place in the Kingdom of God. Through his resurrection, he was the firstfruits of the dead. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). At his resurrection, Jesus was the first being to receive the divine nature, which has been promised to his faithful followers. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).

During the sojourn in the Wilderness of Sin, the camp of Israel was set up around the Tent of the Meeting, or Tabernacle, and Judah held a spot on the east side. “And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father’s house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch. And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies: and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be captain of the children of Judah” (Numbers 2:1-3).

At his second advent, Jesus is pictured as coming from the east, with the “bright-shining” or sunrise “for as the lightning [Strongs 796, astrape — lightning or bright shining] doth come forth from the east, and doth appear unto the west, so shall be also the presence of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:27, Young’s Literal Translation). It is the bright-shining sun that shines from east to west, and it is an apt picture of how the second advent gradually brings light to the entire world.

Judah became the most populous tribe in Israel as detailed in Numbers 1 and 26. Those Israelites returning from captivity in Babylon dwelled in the area of Israel known as Judea, a contraction of the name Judah. The shortened form “Jew” then appeared as a reference to all the children of Israel. By Jesus’ day, the term Hebrew, Israelite, and Jew were used interchangeably. Paul applied all three terms to himself even though he was descended from Benjamin (Acts 22:3, Romans 11:1, Philippians 3:5).

In the Millennial Age resurrection, the followers of Jesus are united with him to become the dominant power of the new Age. The role of the Church is one of leadership in bringing the resurrected tens of billions back into favor with God. All those who come to God must do so by accepting Jesus and being identified with him no matter what their previous ethnic or religious orientation was.

Judah, the Conqueror

Jacob prophesied that Judah’s “hand will be in the neck of his enemies.” The NAS says, “hand shall be on the neck.” In close or hand-to-hand combat, a hand on the neck brings an enemy to his knees and into submission. In Biblical battles, one stood on the neck of a captured enemy in a symbolic pose of victory (Joshua 10:24). Judah’s descendant David, Jehovah’s appointed King, was the greatest warrior in Israel, conquering the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites and Edomites. His son, Solomon, however, pushed the kingdom of Israel to its greatest boundaries (1 Kings 4:20-25) during a reign of peace. The temple he built for the worship of God was unsurpassed in beauty by any structure before or after.

It is Jesus the conqueror who becomes the hero of Revelation, “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Revelation 6:2). At his first advent, Jesus purchased the world of mankind by paying the ransom. His purchased right to rule man was put on hold until the Millennial Age for the purpose of selecting and developing joint-heirs to be with him (Luke 12:32). Revelation opens with this picture of Jesus conquering resisting foes.

During the Millennial Age reign, Jesus will deal with all who oppose God and His Kingdom. At the end, he will destroy death itself. “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).

When all opposing rule and authority is put down, Isaiah’s prophecy will be realized. “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7).

Judah’s Royal Line

“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Genesis 49:10).

The right to rule was to pass through the descendants of Judah. When Israel pleaded for a king contrary to God’s direction, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot and Saul was made king (1 Samuel 10:19-20). However, God rejected Saul for disobedience as he refused to destroy every Amalekite, including King Agag (1 Samuel 15:10-11).

God always intended for Saul’s replacement, David, from the tribe of Judah, to become king over Israel. “He sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah” (1 Samuel 16:12,13).

Jesus was offered to Israel as a King just a few days before his crucifixion. His rejection, however, was predicted, and the Gentiles were given the opportunity to be grafted in as God’s anointed. Yet, at some point in the future, Jesus will be recognized as the ruler of Israel and the entire millennial kingdom. “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth” (Numbers 24:17).

Judah’s Transition

“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Genesis 49:10).

Who or what is Shiloh? There are three possibilities to be considered.

(1) The name of a town in Israel

(2) The coming of Messiah

(3) A personal name for Messiah

(1) The name of a town in Israel. The Jewish Torah (Law) Neviim (Prophets) andKetuvim (Writings) (TANAKH) translates the subject phrase in verse 10, “until he comes to Shiloh.” The translators thus identify Messiah’s connection to the town in Israel by that name. Shiloh was the first resting place of the Tabernacle after Israel crossed Jordan into the Promised Land to begin its conquering campaign. “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them” (Joshua 18:1). There is an objection to this possibility, however, since there is no textual basis for the TANAKH and even less evidence for making this obscure town the focus of the coming of Messiah.

(2) The coming of Messiah. The NIV translation, based on the Septuagint, translates the subject phrase, “until he comes to whom it belongs.” This might seem to have merit since there is similar usage in the prophecy regarding the right to rule over earth, “I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he [Jesus] come whose right it is; and I will give it him” (Ezekiel 21:27). The objection here, however, is that this translation requires the change of one letter of the Hebrew text (see footnotes in most NIVBibles), which is difficult to support.

(3) A personal name for Messiah. The Jewish Talmud states that Shiloh is a name for the Messiah who brings peace to the earth. The suggestion is that the word is derived from the Hebrew Shalom, the root for Jerusalem, the city of peace. This is the most appealing suggestion since it is consistent with Isaiah’s prophecy, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6,7).

Truly Jesus, as the Lion of Judah, will bring peace to the earth in his millennial reign. Let us consider how the scriptures narrow the promise of the redeemer and restorer of men.

●  Genesis 3:15 — the deliverer would come through the line of Adam

●  Genesis 9:26 — the deliverer would come through the line of Shem

●  Genesis 12:3 — the deliverer would come through Abraham

●  Genesis 21:12 — the deliverer would come through Isaac

●  Genesis 25:23 — the deliverer would come through Jacob

●  Genesis 49:10 — the deliverer would come through Judah

●  2 Samuel 7:12-16 — the deliverer would come through David

●  Micah 5:2 — the deliverer and savior would be born in Judea in Bethlehem

●  Hosea 11:1 — the deliverer would visit Egypt

●  Isaiah 11:1 — the deliverer would be a netzer or from Nazareth

The genealogies of Matthew and Luke established the credentials of Jesus as the descendant able to claim heir to these promises made throughout the Old Testament, and the visit by the magi recorded in the first 10 verses of Matthew 2 provides evidence that those who were ready and watching recognized Jesus as that heir. When Herod’s Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, all genealogical records were destroyed so that none can trace their lineage back to David and Judah. Only Jesus fits this role supported by the Gospel account.

Jesus returns to begin both a work of conquering and a work of blessing. As the Lamb of God, he took away the sin of the world. As the conquering Lion of Judah he restores order from chaos and leads the world into a period of learning so that it may stand before Jehovah God in the splendor intended at creation.

“I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him. And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him. But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers. He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.

“My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed … will … endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven” (Psalm 89:20-29).

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