Genesis 49:8-12 (ESV)
“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand 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 rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be 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.”
For Judah, Jacob’s “forecast” is a blessing. It’s wondrously prophetic and messianic.
Judah’s name is the Hebrew word for “praise.” His brothers will praise him and bow down to him. He will be a conqueror in the spirit of a lion.
Judah will rule until tribute comes to him. The Hebrew here is uncertain and scholars don’t agree on what this means. The word “peoples” at the end of verse 10 is definitely plural and points to rule beyond Israel.
Yet, except for Christ’s lordship over all, Israel never rules over other peoples. In fact, the rule of the house of David is not long by historical standards. Thus, it’s hard to make sense of this except as a messianic prophesy.
The ending has hints of Palm Sunday and the last supper, but never connects to either precisely. It does connect to an abundance of grape vines though – and excessive or wasteful use. Since Judah ends up settling in a vine-rich portion of the land, this may just be referring to that – along with the consequences of excess consumption.
It’s amusing to think about how the failings of David and his descendants can be fully explained by just fallen human nature plus plenty of grapes. Wine lubricates the gears of sin.
But that explanation is more general than just wine. Is there any blessing of modern life that doesn’t make some sin more accessible or easier to conceal? The menu of ways we can sin has exploded. Everything is more potent – drinks, weapons, visual stimulation, you name it.
The internet, which is indispensable for writing and distributing these devotionals, is a massive sin enabler. It’s a powerful tool for accomplishing almost anything, good or bad.
The result is an epidemic of brokenness. Lives, relationships, marriages, careers, lie in tatters all around us.
That’s why ministries like Alcoholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, and Pirate Monks are so important.
They confront the issues that most folks avoid.
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