Foundations for a Christian Worldview: The People of God (7)
“Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Genesis 49.8-10
Intimations of rule
From the very beginning, God intended His people to rule the earth so that His goodness might flourish and abound in all His creatures, throughout all creation (Gen. 1.26-31). Adam and Eve were charged with having dominion over all the works God had made, to identify, order, shape, cultivate, serve, and guard them, that each might fulfill its purpose in the divine economy, and refract in the goodness of God their Creator.
The garden of Eden, therefore, was the first indication that God had created His people for a Kingdom where His pleasure and goodness would be served and all His creatures would flourish.
After the fall into sin, God continued to impress His people with the idea of a kingdom and a rule. He gave Noah dominion over every living thing, and commissioned him to revive the work of his first parents (Gen. 6-9). God promised Abraham that his wife, Sarah, would “be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her” (Gen. 17.16). To Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, God continued this promise of rulers and kingdoms, uniting that vision of His covenant’s future with the mandate given from the very beginning: “Also God said to him: ‘IamGod Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body’” (Gen. 35.11).
Once the unbelieving generation of Israelites had died in the wilderness, God prepared their faithful children to go forward in claiming the promises associated with the land of Canaan. He told them that, once they had settled in their respective places, He would be pleased to give them a king, but only on His terms: “When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who isnot your brother. But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong hisdays in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel” (Deut. 17.14-20).
The people God calls to Himself as a holy nation are a people intended for a Kingdom, a people destined to rule for the goodness and glory of God.
A dynasty for Judah
In Jacob’s blessing of his son, Judah, God provides a further glimpse of His Kingdom design for His people (Gen. 49.8-12). Jacob prophesied that God would establish a dynasty of kings, descending from Judah (v. 10). These kings would rule the people of God and receive their praise and honor (v. 8). They would protect Israel from their enemies and rule over them according to the Law of God (vv. 8, 10). They would be fierce, resembling a lion in every way (v. 9).
This dynasty, Jacob continued, would endure from the first anointed king to the coming of Shiloh, a Hebrew contraction which may be translated, “Him Whose it Is.” Shiloh is the final King; the Judaic dynasty ends with Him.
One is coming, descending from the loins of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah, for Whom the rule of God’s people has been prepared, and the rule of all the peoples of the earth (v. 10: Hebrew, peoples, not people as in the NKJV). When Shiloh comes, the dynasty of kings ends. Shiloh receives the scepter of rule (cf. Ps. 45.6), and by fulfilling, teaching, and enforcing the Law of God, brings the promises of God’s covenant to fullness (v. 10).
How shall the people know when this final and greatest King has at last arrived?
Donkey and vine, wine and milk
Shiloh will come on a donkey, and He will come like a vine. His garments will be stained with “the blood of grapes”, though He – as seen by His teeth – will be as pure as milk (v. 12). This is the One for Whom the Kingdom has been prepared, the Kingdom first hinted at with Adam, then promised through the patriarchs and Moses. This One will be lowly and blood-stained, pure and fierce, and “to Him shall bethe obedience of the peoples.”
He will destroy His foes like a lion, and He will bind Himself to His people like a vine, that they might be fruitful. His vision – reflected in His eyes – is of a fruitful vineyard and a vintage harvest (v. 12). He will thus embody the Kingdom over which He reigns, and to which He summons all His people to seek, giving Him all praise and honor and glory as they do.
And this great King will be the ultimate Lawgiver, explaining, fulfilling, and leading the people of God into all the fullness of His Law and all the blessings of His covenant. For thus He will indeed prolong hisdays in His Kingdom, He and His children, in righteousness, peace, and joy forever.
Questions for reflection
1. God intended from the beginning that His people should rule in all creation. Is this still true today? In what sense?
2. As we know, Shiloh has come in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. How should knowing this help us in applying Matthew 6.10 and Matthew 6.33 in our everyday lives?
3. Why is the Kingdom of Shiloh “Good News”?
Next steps – Preparation: Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom – not just the Gospel of forgiveness and eternal life. What’s the difference? Which Gospel are you following?
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
Saved as a Kingdom
- T.M. Moore
- June 12, 2019
God's people were meant for rule.
Foundations for a Christian Worldview: The People of God (7)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.