Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Advent 2023: November 21 - Promise

Tuesday, November 21st: Promise
Read Genesis 49.

Jacob has lived a rather extraordinary and difficult life.  To use his own words in chapter 47, “The days of my sojourning are 130 years.  Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.”

Here at Genesis 49, Jacob has reached the end of his life, 147 years young.  As his final act before he dies, he gives some final words and blessings to his sons and also gives them a prophetic heads up on what is to come for their families and children in ages to come.
In verse 8 Jacob has some words for his son Judah, and to understand them we have to get that big picture of the story thus far.  A promise was given to Adam and Eve that one of their sons would stomp the serpent’s head.  Seth received this promise and it led to Noah.  Noah blessed Shem with this promise which led to Abraham.  Abraham was given this blessing by God and it was bestowed to Issac, and now to Jacob, and now Jacob passes it onto Judah.

He skips over Reuben, Simeon and Levi because in Genesis these 3 committed sins against their father that disqualifies them from inheriting the blessing of the Messiah.  That leaves the 4th born, Judah, next in line.
Jacob tells Judah this: “Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hands shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you.  Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up.  He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares to rouse him?  The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and the obedience of the peoples.  Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes.  His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk.”

What Jacob blesses Judah with is the promise of the Messiah.  He is saying that the people of Israel will praise the descendant of Judah and bow down to him.  This is king language.  He then calls Judah a lion cub, the king of the jungle as we would note.  Revelation even calls Jesus, “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”

It then says that the scepter, the kingship, will remain with Judah’s line, saying that there would come one who will reign forever and ever.  Tribute and obedience of the peoples will be offered to him, which reminds me of the Wise Men coming to Jesus, and now all of us.
Finally, another image is the image of him and his clothes being covered in a wine and grape like color.  This reminds us that he will suffer and die.

Jacob sees Jesus.  And he tells Judah that the promise of Jesus will come through his children.
Jacob then dies in faith, having blessed all his children, and leaving us as we go forward, to keep an eye on Judah’s line, and to see what people in the tribe of Judah God will work through next.