LION OF JUDAH
Jacob's Final Blessing
We're going to explore the story of Jacob (the grandson of Abraham). Now Jacob had twelve sons and four wives. After a lot of family problems, slavery, prison and some crazy dreams, the family moved from Canaan to Egypt. Towards the end of the Book of Genesis, at the deathbed of Jacob he is blessing each of his sons one by one.
Now, when he gets to his fourth son, Judah, he seems to bless him in a different way than the others. He says, "Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches down, he stretches like a lion, like a lioness - who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until obedience comes to him; and the obedience of his people is his. Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey's colt in the choice vine, he washes his garments in wine and his robe in the blood of grapes; his eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk" (Genesis 49:8-12).
What is He on About?
In the first Book of Samuel, we see the fulfillment of these prophecies. When Jacob talks about the 'scepter', he gives a clear image of a king's scepter with which he rules. The first king from the line of David is King David (remember the story of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17).
Now, ever since David, there had always been a direct descendant who reigned as king (until the Exile to Babylon in around 598 BC. This can be found in 2 Kings 25 & 2 Chronicles 36:15-21). After the exile, the line of kings is forgo tten about, until Jesus appears on the scene, who is of the descent of David, Judah and Abraham. And, as we all know, Jesus is our king who reigns for eternity in heaven.
Another prophecy is that of a false prop het named Balaam. The background to this story is as follows: the people of Israel, who had just been freed from the Egyptians, formed a covenant with God and are on their way to the promised land.
On the way, they start to argue with God and Moses (the one who brought them out of Egypt), saying that they were better off in Egypt (this can be found in the Book of Numbers). Soon, they arrive at the city of Moab and camp outside it (remember, they're still quarrelling).
Now in the city, the King of Moab, King Balak, knows that the Israelites have camped outside his city - and he is terrified! He and his people have heard by now of what the God of Israel is capable of. He parted the Red Sea, destroyed the Egyptian army, annihilated some other kingdoms on the way and is probably going to destroy Moab as well. He is petrified, hence decides to summon divine help rather than prepare for war. He calls for this false prophet, Balaam (check out Numbers 22).
Balak asks Balaam to curse Israel for him. So Balaam goes to the top of the mountain, opens his mouth and tries to curse Israel. But when he opens his mouth, he can only utter blessings upon them. Four times he blesses them and the third time, he says, "He crouched, he lay down like a lion, and like a lioness; who will rouse him up?" (Numbers 24:9). WOAH! That's the exact same thing that Jacob said to Judah. Yet again, we're told that a lion will arise from Jacob (and we already know that Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah). And in his fourth oracle (prophecy), he says even more! "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near - a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the borderlands of Moab, and the territory of all the Shethites" (Numbers 24:17).
The Link Starts to Appear
Now, the part about the star is important. When we read Matthew 2:2, we find some wise men looking for Jesus, saying that they "had seen his star in the East and have come to worship him." This is further implied when we look at the Book of the prophet Micah: "...O Bethlehem ...from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel" (Micah 5:2). Now, Bethlehem is a city in… Judah! And it's actually called 'The City of David'. Now the pieces are coming together. Jesus, though raised in Nazareth, was born in Bethlehem, which is what Micah foretold. And Balaam even mentioned the scepter that Jacob spoke about! Then he talked about crushing Moab
This is an echo of the promise made by God to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Another word for 'Borderlands' is forehead. And we already know that God had said that He will send someone to crush the head of the serpent. And so, when we look at the prophecies altogether, they point to the coming of someone who is going to rid the world of evil by becoming a king and dying for us. And all this was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.