Kingdom Presence: Old Testament (6)
“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.
Binding his donkey to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
He washed his garments in wine,
And his clothes in the blood of grapes. Genesis 49.8-11
A King from Judah
In Genesis 49, Jacob blessed his sons and prophesied concerning their future roles in the divine economy. Perhaps surprisingly—since Judah was neither the firstborn nor had served as Israel’s savior, like Joseph had—the promise of dominion, rule, kingship, blessing, and a kingdom was granted through Judah and the tribe that would descend from him.
Judah would receive the praise of the other tribes of Israel (v. 8). All the children of Jacob would bow before and worship in the presence of Judah (v. 8). Judah would be like a lion to protect the people of God (v. 9; cf. Rev. 5.5). Judah would receive the “scepter”, the symbol of dominion, rule, and kingship (v. 10), and a dynasty of rulers would descend from Judah, ending only when one named “Shiloh” appeared. With Him, the scepter finds it final and eternal repository (v. 10). Shiloh would be recognizable by being identified with a donkey and her colt, and by having “washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes” (v. 11).
And to Shiloh would be “the obedience of all the peoples” (not “people”, as in NKJV). All peoples and families of the earth would know the blessing of God’s covenant promises under the scepter of Shiloh. In Shiloh, the promises of God’s covenant and the mandate of dominion come together for the blessing of the world.
Who is Shiloh?
The word Shiloh means something like “he whose it is” or even “that which belongs to him” (Brown, Driver, and Briggs). It seems to be a contraction of several words to make a proper name. One was coming, descending from the tribe of Judah, for whom “it”—the scepter of rule—had been determined and prepared. The symbol of Shiloh’s rule—the scepter—would be one of uprightness (Ps. 45.6). That is, the purpose of Shiloh’s reign would be to return people and the creation to their original condition of righteousness, peace, and joy—uprightness (Eccl 7.29). His rule would encompass not merely the people of Israel but all peoples, thus bringing together in Shiloh’s rule the promise to Abraham of blessing the families of the earth.
Shiloh inherits an eternal dominion, since no other kings or rulers shall follow Him. He is the end of the line of Judah’s dynasty and the beginning of the covenantal rule promised to Adam and Abraham. Shiloh is thus the “one like a Son of Man” in Daniel 7.13-18. He receives the Kingdom from the Most High God and gives it to the saints to seek and advance on earth, a Kingdom prepared for them from before the foundation of the world (Matt. 25.34).
It is significant that the place where Israel set up the Lord’s tabernacle in the land of promise was named Shiloh. The Presence of God was situated in Shiloh. By doing so the people of Israel pointed forward to the time when God’s covenant and Kingdom would be united in that great Shiloh yet to come, He Who embodied the rule and promises of God.
Shiloh continued to host the tabernacle of God until it was replaced by the temple under King Solomon. It remained a symbol of the covenant and dominion of God even into the days of the prophets, who looked back to Shiloh to remember the promised coming Ruler of all peoples.
Jesus, Who entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and her colt, and Whose garments were drenched with His own blood; Jesus, Who gave us the wine and bread to remember and participate in Him; Jesus, to Whom the Father gave the eternal Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit—Jesus is Shiloh, He for Whom the Kingdom was prepared and to Whom alone it belongs.
Already, in the first book of the Bible, the presence of the Kingdom, the coming of a realm of dominion unto righteousness, is announced, foretold, and promised. The focus is increasingly sharpened from a garden in Eden to a descendant of Judah Who will rule all peoples, and for Whom the eternal and upright Kingdom of God has been prepared.
That focus on Judah and Shiloh continues throughout the Old Testament and into the New, until the complete and final realization of this promise to Jacob would come in the last days, during which the “kingdoms of this world” become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Rev. 11.15).
But the people of God must make no mistake about the true nature of this Kingdom and the presence it brings into the world. The remainder of the Old Testament will help the people of God to see that the Kingdom prepared for Shiloh is a Kingdom “not of this world” (Jn. 18.36). The economy that unfolds around that Kingdom is not like that of the world, and the purpose of this dominion and rule is not to dominate but to serve, not to enslave but to liberate, not to enrich with worldly treasures but to lavish with eternal and unfading treasures in heaven.
What we will find throughout the rest of the Old Testament is the continuing Kingdom story unfolding along lines that point clearly to Shiloh and the eternal Kingdom that will become present with Him.
1. What have we seen of the presence of the Kingdom in the book of Genesis?
2. How should this prepare us for reading the rest of the Old Testament?
3. How would you define the Kingdom of God, based on what we’ve seen in Genesis?
Next steps—Preparation: Jesus taught us to pray for the coming of the Kingdom (Matt. 6.10). How should you pray for this in view of what we have seen thus far about the Kingdom presence in Genesis?
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study.
Israel and the Kingdom
- T.M. Moore
- July 21, 2023
Genesis is filled with Kingdom talk.
Kingdom Presence: Old Testament (6)
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 the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore