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Day 1: THE GLORY OF THE LORD ACCORDING TO JACOB

Kemulian Tuhan menurut Yakub

Indonesian | Genesis 49:8–12

The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

– Genesis 49:10

 

Genesis 49:8–12 recounts Jacob’s blessing on Judah. According to Jacob, Judah was a man of great strength, like a lion, who would confront his enemies and to whom his brothers would give praise and bow down (49:8–9). In that great strength, he would be a great ruler from whom the sceptre and staff would not depart (49:10).

Looking at what happened later in Israel’s history, David, of the tribe of Judah, seemed to fulfil some of Jacob’s blessing on Judah. Israel’s enemies were defeated through David (1 Samuel 18:7; 2 Samuel 22:41). Later, however, the kingdom of David came to an end when the people of Judah were taken into exile to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1–21).

 

This necessitates a rereading of Jacob’s blessing on Judah regarding the steadfastness of his kingdom. We do not find fulfilment when our reading considers only the kingdom of Judah in the Old Testament era. What kingdom is spoken of in Jacob’s blessing on Judah? Who is he to whom the nations will submit and whose person and work is described in Genesis 49:11–12?

Traditionally, the Christian reading of the passage has shifted from looking at the physical kingdom of Judah to looking to the reign of the Messiah. Both the Old and New Testaments provide descriptions of the Messiah that recall Genesis 49:8–12. For example, Zechariah announces the coming of a king who is “riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9; cf. Genesis 49:11). Matthew, Mark, and John all record that Jesus commanded His disciples to go and bring a donkey for Him.

Matthew specifically asserts that Jesus’s action is a fulfilment of Zechariah’s prophecy (Matthew 21:4–5). This resonates with what was expressed in Jacob’s blessing on Judah: “Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine” (Genesis 49:11). Other passages remind us of the last part of Jacob’s blessing on Judah (Genesis 49:12). Isaiah describes one who comes in a red garment (Isaiah 63:1–3). The Apostle John saw and described the Messiah as “dressed in a robe dipped in blood” (Revelation 19:13).

We see a common thread between Jacob’s blessing on Judah and Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Through Judah, the person and work of the Messiah had been announced long in advance, though still vaguely. As time went on, the prophets made the picture clearer until finally the Messiah, namely Jesus Christ, came as promised, His genealogical record confirming that He is the fulfilment of the blessing on the line of

Judah (Matthew 1:2–3). He is the strong one who defeats all His (and our) enemies, who will reign forever, to whom shall be the obedience of the peoples, ourselves included. He is the one who rode a donkey into Jerusalem to atone for our sins, who washed our garments clean in the wine of His blood, and whose beauty we will enjoy forever.

What do we think of when we read Jacob’s blessing on Judah? One thing that is very moving to me, and that also provides an important lesson, is that Judah himself did not have an idea about how this blessing would manifest itself in the future, just as we do not know exactly what the future will look like. In Indonesia, where I’m from, people are dealing with many difficulties due to inequities in the economy and in access to information and opportunity. This creates uncertainty that leads to despair, crime, and loss of hope.

However, we can see today that the blessing on Judah has indeed been fulfilled and will continue to be realized in history through and in Jesus Christ. With that awareness, we can trust God’s work in the difficulties and uncertainties we face as we set our feet to the future. It will lead us to humbly depend on God, through prayer and obedience to Him, come what may. Jesus, the Messiah who has come to us, will welcome us when we bring the burdens of our lives to Him, as He has invited us to do: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).


Iman Zandroto

IMAN JAYA ZANDROTO
Nias, North Sumatra, Indonesia

Iman Zandroto is from Nias, North Sumatra, Indonesia and studied under Langham Scholar Dwi Handayani at Bandung Theological Seminary. He is currently continuing his studies at the Vancouver School of Theology in British Columbia, Canada.

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