Genesis 49:1–2 and 49:8–12, 2 Samuel 7:12–16, Luke 1:67–79, Revelation 5:2–14 (read online ⧉)
You might have gathered from all the scriptures that this is about the lineage of Judah. The lineage of the same guy from yesterday’s devotion who seem to not particularly care about those of his lineage that followed him. Despite that, his father made a prophetic pronouncement that Judah had the scepter and the staff. The scepter represents the ability and position of rule. In other words, kingship was the domain of Judah. In addition, the same word also can be translated as branch or offshoot, which are also words that were applied to the Messiah. The staff probably mentioned in the translation you likely read is troublesome. The KJV is closest with ruler (and that is the way it is often translated elsewhere with Judah). In Hebrew, it also means engraved. Where does this lead us? Combining ruler and engraved is similar to a seal, so going out on a limb…authority. Kings, rulers, presidents have power. Authority is the right to use power.*
David’s eventual rule over the Kingdom of Israel seemed to begin the fulfillment of Jacob’s prophesy. Then Nathan delivered the Lord’s message. What a message that was! What an amazing way to fulfill an old prophetic message from Jacob the patriarch of Israel. What seems odd is that there does not appear to be a direct acknowledgment of Jacob’s message. It’s there, but it is more implied than directly stated. It seems a reverse of Judah’s perspective. This also shows that despite Judah’s behavior, good can still come from bad. It all depends on what we do with it when we turn to God.
During Zechariah’s prophecy over his son John (the Baptist), Jesus’ lineage is tied to David. This sees a deliberate tie to the message from God about David’s specific line having the authority. This same line is still the line of Judah. The Israelite concept of a Messianic figure comes long after Judah dies (though it is easily argued that there was plenty of foreshadowing). There is no way that Jacob or Judah could have imagined that God would have become man through their lineage. It would have been far beyond their imagining.
When Jesus walked the earth, his lineage was predominantly tied to David. After his death and resurrection, however, the name of Judah regained some prominence in all that surrounded Jesus the Christ. We see this in Revelation where it all gets tied together: Judah, David, Messiah, salvation, eternity. What beautiful symmetry.
1) Does your family or social circle have a “black sheep” (i.e., the person all avoid)? What makes that person a black sheep?
2) Judah was a black sheep insofar as his behavior (remember yesterday, plus other things). The Messiah, your savior, came from a line of the black sheep. What does that tell you about the potential of your family’s (again, or social circle’s) black sheep?
3) Why is understanding God’s redemption of black sheep important for our lives and others?
Action: Look for a way to begin the restoration of a black sheep.
*This is not a statement on whether current people in power have authority (that can be argued multiple ways with multiple bases), just to be clear. That there was a perceived need to make this statement should also cause each of us to pause and wonder what is really going on in our hearts.