What do I mean by that? I stumbled upon something while studying for the Bible study class I co-teach. And it opened my eyes to how God chooses to bring reconciliation between a rebellious people and a Holy God. There were twelve tribes born of the patriarch Jacob/Israel. But God chose to use the one with the most sordid past to bring His perfect Son to earth. Let’s do some background reading on this chosen tribe.
JUDAH was the fourth of the twelve sons born to Jacob by a woman he was tricked into marrying. Leah named him Judah as a thank offering or praise to Yahweh for giving her a fourth son. Judah in Hebrew means to praise with uplifted or outstretched hands or Yadah. Genesis 29:35. Judah was the one who foiled the murder plan when the plot was hatched to kill Joseph. Genesis 37:26-27. He had no idea that suggesting they sell him was their future deliverance from starvation. Judah’s life, it seemed, took a downward spiral after that incident. See Genesis 38. His life and the decisions he made were so dysfunctional. He married a Canaanite woman forbidden by Yahweh for the Jews. Had two sons that were so evil that God killed them both. Had intercourse with his daughter in law and produced twin boys.
He offered up his life for Benjamin’s during the famine when Joseph requested that they bring him back before the other brothers would be released. Genesis 43. Of all the brothers except for Joseph, he stood out as a leader when hard decisions needed to be made. When Jacob was blessing his twelve sons, this was what he said about Judah.
“Then Jacob called together all his sons and said, “Gather around me, and I will tell you what will happen to each of you in the days to come. “Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will grasp your enemies by the neck. All your relatives will bow before you. Judah, my son, is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the One to whom it belongs, the One whom all nations will honor. He ties his foal to a grapevine, the colt of his donkey to a choice vine. He washes his clothes in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk.”
Genesis 49:1, 8-12 NLT
Jacob prophesied that through Judah the Messiah would come. Imperfect Judah, how could that be? Why not Joseph, his brother? In Joshua 15:1-12 Judah received the southern border as an inheritance for their families. Theirs was the largest clan. When the kingdoms split the southern part was referred to as Judah and the northern as Israel. When we read that the king of Israel went to fight against Jerusalem/ Judah, it’s actually speaking of clans at war with each other. There was a king of Judah and a king of Israel. When the nations split after Solomon’s death Judah remained loyal to David. 1 Kings 12:20 Do you notice a pattern? God leaves nothing to chance. Everything is strategic. Jacob’s words to Judah and God’s words to David. See 2 Samuel 7.
Judah, imperfect Judah with an imperfect king, David, remained a faithful tribe before Yahweh. Whenever there was a battle to be fought Judah was called to the forefront. See Judges 12:1-5; Judges 20:18; remember what Judah means. This is how we should approach every difficult situation. Send praise ahead. Praise is the path to victory, complaining is the path to defeat. Jacob’s prophecy over Judah came full circle in the announcement and ultimate birth of Jesus the One whose robe would be dipped in blood. Who is the true Lion of the tribe of Judah. Genesis 49
One of the things you will notice in Jacob’s prophecy is that he mentions that the scepter will not depart from Judah, and he refers to Judah as a lion. The scepter meant power, authority, and rulership. In essence, Jacob predicted that there would be a King who would come from Judah who would rule and never give up His throne. We know that King to be Jesus, also known as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. What Jacob said here about the tribe of Judah is confirmed later in a prophecy that God gave to David. Because David was from the tribe of Judah, these two prophecies aligned.
Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before Me; your throne will be established forever." – 2 Samuel 7:16
One day Jesus would come through this line of Judah to redeem mankind, and one day He will come again, and all the world will know that He is Lord of all. He will take His rightful place as Ruler and King forever and ever. If I could sum up the facts about the tribe of Judah, I will go back to something I mentioned earlier. Like all of us, Judah, the person, was a flawed man, yet his lineage brought the perfect Savior. In the future, whenever you think of Judah or the tribe of Judah, remember that Judah is another representation of God's perfect plan being accomplished through imperfect people.
Think about your own life. Think of where the Lord has brought you from. It doesn’t matter how perfect you may think you are, your life was marred by sin. The life of Judah teaches us that God can accomplish more with flawed people than those who have no need for a physician. Jesus said He came for imperfect people. Those of us who are sick and know it. The fact that He uses us to bring His message of hope and grace is humbling. That He chose to tabernacle with us, giving us His Holy Spirit, is mind blowing. Why Judah? Why not Joseph? Because as honorable as Joseph was, there are more Judah’s who blow it than not. He chose to use imperfect Judah to bring us His perfect Son. Showing us that no one is irredeemable. Read Matthew’s lineup to Jesus’ birth in Matthew 1. Misfits, least likely to have been chosen—but God. No wonder Jesus was more readily accepted by the outcasts of society.
Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich, speaking of affluence and notoriety, to enter the kingdom of heaven. A perfect God allowed His perfect Son to be born through an imperfect lineage to redeem imperfect people. What a wonderful God! What a beautiful Savior! Judah with all his imperfections, whose name means praise, received honor among his brothers. Because God sees promotion differently. It’s never about us, it’s always been about what He can do through us. His perfect love still seeks the Jacob’s, Judah’s, David’s, Rahab’s, Mary’s, Zacchaeus’, Saul’s and you and me. I pray you’ll take the time to read the highlighted scriptures. You’ll be encouraged and blessed because you have been chosen.
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
December 14, 2021