The Coming King
Law Matters: The Law and the King (1)
The promised Kingdom has a remarkable King.
“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.” Genesis 49:10 (ESV margin)
God had promised Abraham that kings would descend from him (Gen. 17:6). Jacob took up that promise and focused it more clearly as he prophesied about the Kingdom that would come into being through his son, Judah.
The word “Shiloh” in our text is a contraction of three Hebrew words and means, literally, “Him Whose It Is.” Jacob prophesied of his son Judah that a dynasty would come forth from his loins. The tribe of Judah is pictured as a lion—a lion, a lioness, and a lion cub, all the images of “lion-likeness” rolled into one. The Kingdom that was to come through Judah would become a dynasty, ruling first over the people of Israel (v. 8) and ultimately over all the peoples of the world (v. 10).
The dynasty of kings descending from Judah would continue until Shiloh comes, the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5). Then the scepter will no longer be transmitted to the next king, for with Shiloh the dynasty ends. He is the King Who will bring all the peoples of the world to obedience.
Yet Shiloh is to be a humble King—He comes to the fruitfulness of His Kingdom riding on the foal of a donkey (v. 11). He takes the fruit of His Kingdom upon Himself, on His own garments, and is “washed” “in the blood of grapes.” The use of the term “blood” is not incidental. The coming King gains the fruit of His Kingdom through a baptism of blood. Yet He Himself is pure (v. 12) and clear in His vision and purpose (v. 12). Jesus used this same image of a ruler coming to claim his rightful fruit in the parable of the tenants (Matt. 21:33-44). This situation also involved the shedding of blood.
These cryptic descriptions of the coming King would doubtless have provoked generations of Israelites to wonder whether each new king over Israel might be the promised Shiloh. Psalm 2, which was probably sung at the installation of a new king—when emissaries and visitors from many lands would have been present—undoubtedly has the promise of Jacob’s prophecy in mind when it calls the nations to be obedient to God’s appointed King.
The Law of God promises a Kingdom and begins to make preparation for that glorious reign by outlining the parameters of justice by which that Kingdom will be characterized. But the Law also points forward to the King God will appoint over His Kingdom, and it teaches us how to recognize Him when He comes.
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In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T.M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).
Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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