From Judah

“Then Judah said to Israel his father, ‘Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life.’”—Genesis 43:8-9 (NIV)

Those who study the life of Jacob’s son Joseph will see a striking reflection of Jesus. (There are nearly twenty similarities I encourage you to seek out.) That being said, one might expect Jesus comes from the line of Joseph. But He doesn’t. His lineage is from Jacob’s fourth son, Judah. And in this section of Scripture, the whisper of our Savior begins to emerge.

Genesis 43 opens with Jacob and his family still in the depths of famine. Jacob once again tells his sons to travel south to Egypt to buy food. Except there was one problem: If they returned to Egypt, they had to take Benjamin with them. To Jacob, that was an agonizing concept. Still, without food, the family would suffer and die. If they went, Benjamin might die. Jacob was torn.

Without hesitation, Judah proposed, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him.”

Here, the heart of Christ emerges: “I will go so others may live . . . I will be the surety of safety . . . I personally will be responsible.” Judah, like our Good Shepherd, was willing to lay down his life.

So, when Jacob came to the end of his life, the whispers of a Savior became a prophecy for the ages. Among Jacob’s last words to his sons Jacob were, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Genesis 49:10 NASB). Jacob foretold Judah would bear a royal line—fulfilled by King David 640 years later and then ultimately in Jesus the Messiah, whose epithet is Shiloh—the One who would bring peace. God’s promise of a Messiah would come, and it would come from the tribe of Judah.

While Joseph is a picture of Jesus, Judah is His forefather. In its entirety, Jacob’s prophetic word for Judah unfolds in the future Christ: He will be praised, and He will conquer His enemies. He is the lion of the tribe of Judah; the King of kings to whom all will bow down. He is the vine who offers a fruitful, abundant life and the source of living water to restore and refresh (study Genesis 49:8-11). From Judah came our Savior, the One who brings peace.

DIG: On your own, do a study of Judah. What surprises you about his past in light of his legacy?

DISCOVER: Why do you think God would choose Judah to be a forefather of Jesus?

DO: Study the lineage of Jesus to learn about the men and women God chose to be Jesus’ descendants. How did they earn a living? Did they make mistakes? What do you find remarkable about these people? How does this influence the way you see people?