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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Prophecies foretell Messiah
Date Posted: June 27, 2021

Genesis 49:9 Judah is a lion's whelp. My son, you have risen up from the prey; he stoops, he crouches like a lion; and like a lioness, who can rouse him? 10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the lawmaker from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and the obedience of the peoples to him.

The Lion of Judah is Christ our Lord. Astounding promise this is, given through Jacob’s blessings of his sons. This prophecy indicates a specific time that the Messiah would be born, and a specific manner of His arrival. Notice that He would be a lion’s whelp. This is not the picture of a raging rebel, or warrior, who comes to yank the throne from Roman authority. It is not a picture of peace either although Jesus is the Prince of Peace. A lion’s whelp is extraordinarily active and curious and playful even until the day that he must get down to the business of being a lion.

Jacob tells Judah, My son, you have risen up from the prey. The prize has been won and the dining has finished. Through the lineage of Judah, the royal Prince would come, the Lion of Judah. With this blessing, Jacob is letting all the brothers know that this fourth son has taken the blessing normally given to the first born. Then Jacob switches to third person, he stoops, he crouches like a lion; and like a lioness, who can rouse him? The Messiah would not be pouncing during His earthly life. This picture of stooping and crouching is just like a cat that is either playing with or stalking its prey.

When Jesus and the disciples stopped at Jacob’s Well, the disciples went into town in search of food. When they came back, after Jesus has spoken to the woman, they urged Him to eat. Jesus told His disciples that He had food of which they knew nothing.

The royal scepter never departed from the royal lineage. That promise was never broken all down through the centuries even through the days of exile, all the way to the conquering by the Romans.

I am impressed. There was a time in Judah’s history when there was an evil king of Israel who gave his daughter in marriage to the king of Judah. Her name was Athaliah – the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. She was given to Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat – a very godly king of Judah – to wife, and she bore a son, Ahaziah who eventually became king of Judah. This cruel woman was a horrendous influence on Jehoram, and he turned from his father Jehoshaphat’s example by fostering the evil of idolatry to prevail in Judah.

To set the story’s background, we must look back at the kingdom of Israel… Now, Jehu was a most impetus captain of the royal guard in Ahab’s court. Remember Ahab? He was married to Jezebel. Elijah sent one of his assistants to anoint Jehu as king of Israel. When the guards wrung the truth from him of exactly why this young boy came dashing into the guardhouse and demanding a private audience with Jehu, they were overjoyed because they were tired of this current tyranny. They used the steps of the guard house as a throne and threw their cloaks over it to do him homage. All of this went to Jehu’s head and with a great deal of self-importance and self-aggrandizement which was neatly tucked under the guise of godly motivations, Jehu went on a killing spree which decimated the royal houses of any person who could lay claim to the throne of Israel which included Ahaziah the king of Judah who was the grandson of Ahab. Jehu and his cohorts slew all of Ahab’s sons and grandsons along with any claimant upon the throne of Israel.

Ahaziah’s brothers and step-brothers had all been slain by Arabs. Now when Athaliah found out her son was dead, she rose up and slaughtered all Ahaziah’s sons by his wives and his concubines, 70 in all. She effectively committed the treasonous act of snatching the throne of Judah. However…

Ahaziah had a sister, Jehosheba, who was a godly and devoted woman. We don’t know if Athaliah was her mother since Ahaziah could have been her step-brother. We do know she was loved by the Chief Priest Jehoiada and was his wife. As far as I’ve been able to discern, she is the only princess to have married a High Priest.

Jehosheba stole into the bedchamber of her nephews and took the baby Joash from his crib. We are not told if she discovered the plot before the slaughter or if she heard the commotion or if she knew her mother so well, knew her ambitions so intimately she had guessed what was coming. One thing I do know, God had promised that the scepter would never leave the tribe of Judah, nor the lawmaker from between his feet, therefore God provided Jehosheba to rescue her baby nephew and his nurse before he was murdered. She and her husband hid the baby in God’s house for six years ( 2 Chronicles 22:11-12) while Athaliah reigned over Judah causing more evil to be worshipped on the high places and more idols to be erected over Judah.

In the seventh year, Jehoiada enlisted Temple Captains’ (rulers of the hundreds) of the Guards help, and that of the Levites of Judah and Israel. He introduced them to their rightful king. His plan (1Kings 11,2 Chronicles 22) was for one third of the guards to restrain the palace guard and two thirds would guard the prince within the Temple.

When Athaliah heard the loud acclamations of the people for their new king who had been saved from murder, she scurried to the Temple and saw the king upon a stage on the steps. Enraged, she shouted “Treason!” But she was hustled out and killed at the horse gate. She met nearly the same fate as her mother, exterminated with a sword at her own walls.

You are thinking, how can this be a Christmas story?

Satan was feverishly at work trying his hardest to wipe out the direct royal line. Except for God’s provision, he would have succeeded. Just as Satan tried to wipe out any hope of the Judean Royal Line producing the Christ child in the days of Jehoram, he tried to do the same using Herod to slaughter all the Bethlehem male infants two years and younger.

Herod was of Idumean descent. He was alien by birth but Jew by faith (Fausset’s Bible Dictionary). Since there was no descendant of the patriarch Judah on the throne, it was time for Jesus to be born. I have read some who have said that Herod was half Idumean and half Jew. That is not the case, his father was Antipater who was a native of Idumaea which was actually Edom of Esau fame. His mother was Cypros who was Arabian, Semitic but not Jewish. I know that God said in Jacob’s blessing to Judah that it was a stipulation of the Messiah’s coming: “Until Shiloh comes.” Shiloh can be translated Peace, and this was one of the names of Messiah, Prince of Peace. Herod was placed on the throne of Judah by the Romans, not anointed by God.

The Herods gave lip service to the Jewish traditions and law and used it to leverage themselves a higher position for themselves and their kingdom. It was precisely why Herod the Great spent millions of dollars by today’s standards, and forty-nine years making the Temple even grander and more luxurious than Solomon ever dreamed. Here is a descendant of Esau trying to usurp the birthright from Jacob. He also tried to destroy the Messiah by having all the male infants of two years and older slaughtered in Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:16-18) This was at the same time that he was struck by a horrendous disease of the stomach and bowels. He ordered all the nobles to be slaughtered when he died so there would be no lack of mourners. (Josephus). He had also slain his father-in-law, his wife, all his sons except Antipas. He was evil personified, just like Jezebel and Athaliah.

We can compare the slaughter of all of Jehoram’s heirs to the throne except for Joash to Herod’s slaughter of all the male infants except Jesus. Jeremiah said that in that day Rachael was weeping over her children. Joash spent the next six years within the Temple being protected by the High Priest. Jesus spent most likely four to six years in Egypt under the protection of God Most High. It is extraordinary how God intertwines prophecy throughout history to give proof of Himself when prophecy is fulfilled.

God keeps His promises.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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