The Scepter and the Staff of the Savior

“Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. 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 between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.”—Genesis 49:8–12 (NIV)

“I see big things in your future!”

“You’re going places!”

“You have a bright future ahead of you!”

These expressions are usually said about people with great potential. You hear a lot of this in sports with “can’t miss” prospects like former Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck, of whom one scout said, “Andrew Luck is the top quarterback prospect to come along in the past 30 years, a once-in-a-generation player guaranteed to become an immediate star at the next level.”

In today’s passage, we read Jacob’s blessing (scouting report) about Judah. Here, Jacob promises that Judah’s brothers would praise him, which seemed odd. Why? Because Judah wasn’t the first born; he was the fourth son. Thus, his brothers would have had no reason to praise him. And although God chose Judah to receive this scouting report, it wasn’t about Judah. It was about one of Judah’s descendants. In fact, Judah is a “lion’s cub,” but his lineage legacy would grow and ascend to the height of honor, majesty, and power.

We’re told this apex lion in Judah’s line would rule forever and have the obedience of all the nations (Genesis 49:10). That offspring would be the fulfillment of God’s promises from Genesis 3:15 (the seed of Eve who would crush the head of the serpent, a prophetically parallel statement to the one made in verse 8 about Judah’s hands around the neck of his enemies) and Genesis 22:18 and 28:14 (the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through whom all families of the earth would be blessed, which parallels the statement in verse 10).

Revelation 5:5 (NIV) calls this offspring the “the Lion of the tribe of Judah;” Matthew 1:23 (NIV) calls Him “Immanuel" (which means ‘God with us’).” His name is Jesus, and we get to call Him Lord, Savior, King, and friend!

Jesus—who was born of Mary and Joseph, descended from the line of King David, and descended from the line of Judah—is the promised King who rules and reigns over the entire world and conquers the enemies of sin and death. But He’s more than just a King.

He’s a merciful King who has withheld His staff of judgment and extended His scepter to all who believe in Him, allowing us to come into His presence forevermore and be received as heirs of God and co-heirs of Christ.

So, not only does Jacob’s blessing and scouting report promise us Jesus, but it also promises us the salvation and mercy of God as it lays out the fullness of the gospel! Praise God for His promises! Praise Jesus for fulfilling God’s promises! Praise the Holy Spirit for indwelling us and allowing us to experience the fulfillment of God’s promises each and every day!

DIG: What does this verse tell us about the future of Judah?

DISCOVER: How do the blessed promises made to Judah impact you?

DO: Thank the Lord today for the Lion of Judah who extends His scepter to us and makes us heirs of His kingdom!