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The Scepter of Judah

18 Apr

Scepter of JudahFor some time, now, I’ve been involved in a study of the nature of the Kingdom of God. At the very heart of this study are Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Luke 17:20-21, where he claimed that the Kingdom of God cannot be observed with the physical eyes, whereupon he concluded that the Kingdom of God is within you (i.e. within man). These are astonishing words in view of the fact that the Pharisees were expecting a glorious earthy kingdom. They expected the Messiah to reign in Jerusalem and rid the Jews of the Roman oppressor

The kingdom was first promised to Judah, the son of Jacob, and we can see this in Jacob’s farewell blessing to his family:

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. (Genesis 49:10)

Therefore, long before Israel was a nation, and long before David, of the tribe of Judah, reigned over Israel, the kingdom or rulership was promised to Judah. Moreover, authority over his brethren (and their descendents—the nation) would not depart from him, until the Messiah would come. What is interesting about this prophecy is that it foretold that the scepter would, indeed, depart from Judah. This understanding is further attested by Jesus, himself:

Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spoke of them. (Matthew 21:43-45; emphasis mine)

From the time Judah received the sovereignty through David, to the time of Jesus’ ministry, the scepter had not departed from Judah,. The Jerusalem authorities ruled, not only Judah, but all the Jews throughout the Roman Empire were ruled by and subject to the Jewish authorities at Jerusalem. Nevertheless, in the first century AD Jesus told the Jewish rulers at Jerusalem that the scepter would be taken from them and given to another.

Now, all three futurist eschatologies, premillennialism, postmillennialism and amillennialism[1] teach that at the end of the Christian age Jesus will come out of heaven and establish his rule upon the earth. That is, Jesus’ Second Coming will be visible (i.e. he comes in a physical body), and he will establish his physical throne in physical Jerusalem and reign in a physical Kingdom that will spread over the earth. A significant problem with this understanding is, for over 1900 years there hasn’t been a national Jewish government coming out of Jerusalem.

Even today, although Jews claim their capital is Jerusalem, their government comes out of Tel Aviv. The point is, the prophecy claims Judah would retain her scepter until Messiah comes (Genesis 49:10). Then, the people will flow to the Messiah. In the New Testament, Jesus confirmed that the scepter would be given to another (Matthew 21:43). If, therefore, Judah has lost its governing power, Messiah must be reigning. If Messiah is reigning today, what does that say about his Second Coming and the nature of the Kingdom of God?

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[1] A division of Amillennialism preaches Jesus will return and destroy heaven and earth, and no earthly reign will be established.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in 70 AD Eschatology

 

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