MESSIAH: HIS FIRST COMING SCHEDULED|
CHAPTER III THE SCEPTRE OF JUDAH
IN CHAPTER I we saw that, in accepting the record of Genesis as an inspired
revelation of God, we are not following legend or tradition, but are taking
our stand upon the infallibly inspired Word of God. In the second chapter we
also studied the trend of the narrative in connection with chronological data
and found that the record harmonizes perfectly with all other known facts.
Hence our faith in this book as a divine disclosure of the Almighty has been
strengthened. In the present one we shall study one of the most marvelous
predictions found in the Torah. It is true that there are several prophecies
in Genesis which foretell Messiah's coming, but the one, dealing with the time
of His appearance, which will assist in the proper understanding of our
present subject is Genesis 49:10.
This passage reads as follows:
10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh come;
And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be.
In volume II of this series we saw that this prediction was recognized by the
ancient synagogue as a promise of the Messiah to whom all nations will
eventually render loving and loyal obedience. Among modern scholars in general
it is likewise interpreted as a Messianic forecast. Some hold the position
that it is to be understood as an oracle concerning a personal Messiah,
whereas others, of the advanced type, claim that it is to be taken as a
prediction of a golden era dawning independently of Him, toward which the
world is rapidly advancing. In the discussion of this phase of the subject, I
presented facts which prove that this prophecy is to be understood personally.
Hence Israel's age-long hope of the coming of King Messiah is well-founded,
upon the infallible Word of the Torah.
The question that now confronts us is to ascertain, if possible, from this
oracle the time when He is to appear in fulfillment of the forecast. The
statements which have bearing upon this important question are: "The sceptre
shall not depart from Judah. . . Until
Shiloh come." The two interpretations generally held today are: first, these
clauses affirm that the ruling power shall remain with the tribe of Judah
until Messiah comes, and after His appearance she loses her preeminence and
governmental functions; secondly, the power is to be headed up in Judah under
His regime when He appears. We must examine both positions in our quest for
I. EXAMINATION OF CURRENT EXPLANATIONS
The statements, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler's
staff from between his feet," assume, as we shall see under section II, that
the preeminence among the children of Israel and governmental functions among
the tribes will be lodged in the tribe of Judah. This forecast does not
designate the time when that tribe is to come into supreme power, but simply
assumes that she will receive the authority, or that she at least will in some
way possess it. From the English text these statements seem to affirm that
while she is in control (neither before she obtains the preeminence nor after
losing it, if such should be the case), Shiloh comes. The emphasis therefore
is to be placed upon the fact that the power and ruling authority are to be in
her hands when Messiah makes His appearance upon earth.
A. The Theory of Judah's Losing Her Supremacy
A theory, popular in many circles, affirms that the necessary inference to be
drawn from this promise is that, when Messiah comes, Judah loses her position,
or preeminence and power. Since she has, as all must admit, lost her authority
among the people of Israel, the conclusion is drawn that the Messiah came
before the withdrawal of her divinely-given governmental function, the
collapse of the national life, and the dispersion of Israel among the peoples
of the earth. This reasoning is entirely from the English standpoint. A case
parallel to it might be supposed. One person before leaving another assigns
him a task, saying, "Work at this job until I return." The possible inference
from this bit of instruction is that, when the one giving the assignment
returns, the other will not be required to continue the work. This
implication, though possible, is not at all necessary. The Hebrew idiom is
more specific. For instance, (adh) UNTIL, followed by the perfect infinitive
carries the implication that the person stops working, the thing ceases
functioning, or the condition passes away, which is said to act, function, or
exist up to a given point or time, when the specified labor is
accomplished, or the appointed time is reached. Examples of this idiom are
numerous in the Hebrew Scriptures. Investigate the following passages: Genesis
32:24; 33:3; Exodus 34:34; and Leviticus 16:17.
When (adh) is followed by the perfect participle or by a noun, such as (boqar),
it has the same force as when it is followed by the infinitive. Two examples
on this point are sufficient. See Exodus 16:35 and 17:12.
Frequently the expression (adh asher) is rendered in the English by UNTIL and
has the same significance as the idioms to which attention has already been
directed. This phrase is more frequent than the ones just examined. It
likewise carries a strong inference that the matter under discussion continues
up to a given point, after which it ceases. A few examples will show this
fact. See the following passages: Genesis 27:44; 29:8; 33:14; Exodus 23:30;
24:14; Leviticus 22:4.
The idioms which I have examined in the paragraphs immediately preceding carry
the strong implication of the cessation of the given condition after the
objective is reached. The strength of the inference is, of course, modified at
times by the facts presented in the context. Sometimes the data supplied by
the connection nearly eclipse the inference and hides it from sight. In view
of the various shades of meanings of the idiom under consideration, one must
be careful that he does not draw a hasty deduction from his English text.
If, arguing from the standpoint of the English translation, we should assume
that the necessary inference to be drawn from the statement, "The sceptre
shall not depart from Judah, Until Shiloh come," is that after Shiloh comes
the sceptre would depart from this tribe, what effect would such a prediction
have had upon Judah? Such an outlook could have had but. one
result-discouragement. The thought that this tribe would have the ascendancy
up to the time of Messiah's appearance and then would be humiliated by the
loss of such regal powers would cast a gloom, as far as Judah was concerned,
over the entire oracle. Furthermore, this idea does not harmonize with the
rest of the prediction, which speaks in such glowing terms of the blessed and
happy state of Judah when Shiloh does come. For these reasons I consider the
interpretation under consideration untenable.
B. The Theory of Judah}s Continued but Increased Supremacy
It is now proper to examine the second hypothesis which maintains that the
oracle promises Judah continued supremacy up to and after the coming of
Shiloh. The proper approach to the question is to examine the Hebrew idiom
which is translated until in this passage. The words in the original are (adh
kiy). This idiom is used only five times in the Tenach. A careful
investigation of the facts presented by the context of each occurrence will
show its significance.
The first appearance of this expression is found in Genesis 26:13, 14. "And
the man waxed great, and grew more and more until he became very great: and he
had possessions of flocks, and possessions of herds, and a great household:
and the Philistines envied him." This statement is made concerning Isaac and
his sojourn in Gerar. The verse preceding this quotation informs us that he
sowed his crops in the land that year and reaped a hundredfold. In the sequel
to the story, we find that Abimelech, the king of the country, came to Isaac
and sought his favor upon the basis of God's manifest blessing upon him (vss.
26-33). This fact shows conclusively that Isaac's prosperity did not cease
when he became rich, as some might infer from verse 13, but rather that it
continued as before.
A second example of this idiom appears in Genesis 41:49. "And Joseph laid up
grain as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left off numbering; for it
was without number." This statement refers to the storing of grain by Joseph
during the seven years of plenty. At first an account of the grain was made.
Finally the supplies grew so very great that no longer was a record kept of
the amount; nevertheless Joseph continued to have the crops harvested. The
facts of the context show that this idiom does not imply Joseph's ordering a
cessation of harvesting the crops. On the contrary, it assumes that, when the
ingathering grew so very large, he continued as before, but only left off
making the record as he had formerly done.
Another example appears in II Samuel 23:10. "He (Eleazar) arose and smote the
Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword; and
Jehovah wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him
only to take spoil." The word until is the translation of our idiom. The
statement, "and (he) smote the Philistines until his hand was weary," is
followed by the clause, "and his hand clave unto the sword." The
conjunction (we) might properly, in this connection, be rendered "but" instead
of "and." In many instances it has, as is indicated by the context, this
disjunctive function. For this meaning examine such passages as Genesis 49:19,
24 and Psalms 30:5; 44:2; 50:17. The flow of the thought in each of these
references demands most emphatically the disjunctive significance. Likewise,
in the passage, which we are now studying, the disjunctive meaning seems to be
demanded by the context. In accordance with this suggestion I will translate
the two clauses: "And (he) smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, but
his hand clave unto the sword." The quotation when thus rendered fits
perfectly into the context and makes the idea of the valor of Eleazar stand
forth in bold relief. He continued his fighting up to the point that he was
about exhausted in his hands, and yet, in order to achieve success, he
summoned all the strength at his command and pressed the fight to a triumphant
end. The following verse states that victory by the help of the Lord was the
outcome of the conflict.
A fourth instance of this conjunction is II Chronicles 26:15. "And his (Uzziah's)
name spread far abroad; for he was marvelously helped (adh kiy chazaq) till he
was strong." The one who helped Uzziah was the Lord, for in verse 5 of this
chapter we read, "And he set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who
had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought Jehovah, God
made him to prosper." The Hebrew sentence which I have just quoted is
literally rendered, "In the days of his seeking the Lord, God prospered him."
It is presumable from the facts in the case that upon his accession to the
throne he did the right thing, for in verse 4 it is stated that he did that
which was right in the eyes of the Lord as his father Amaziah had done.
According to 25:2 "Amaziah did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord,
but not with a perfect heart." Uzziah started out well and continued to be
faithful to the Lord throughout the greater part of his long reign of 52
years. At the close of his career he became conceited and proud. Hence the
Lord forsook him and withdrew His special favor and assistance. The one act
which shows that his heart was lifted up and on account of which the Lord
smote him with leprosy was his attempt to act in the capacity of priest in the
house of God. With this plague upon him he lived in isolation and his son
Jotham performed the regal functions in his stead. From a computation of the
chronological data given in the books of Kings and Chronicles it is clear that
Jotham judged the people of the land
during the last four years of his father's life and at his death mounted the
throne.. From the beginning of his reign the Lord assisted him and continued
to do so until he became proud.
The facts in the case show that by divine favor Uzziah was brought into a
position of strength and po,wer and was also sustained by the same sovereign
grace and might until he in pride of heart attempted to force himself into the
priestly office. Hence (adh kiy) TILL, (IIChron. 26:15) interpreted in the
light of this context shows that the grace of God brought Uzziah to a position
of power and might and sustained him up to the time of his arrogant
disobedience, without any suggestion of the withdrawal of the divine favor. As
we have seen, verse 15 asserts that he was marvelously helped of God until he
was strong. The divine grace early in his reign brought him to this position
of strength and power. When he was thus established in his realm, the Lord did
not forsake him, but continued to uphold him. Hence divine grace brought him
to the point of security and kept him there until he became proud. Then the
Lord withdrew His special kindness and brought a plague upon him. This idiom
then has the same significance that it carries in the other instances which we
The last occurrence of our expression to be examined is the one in the passage
which we have under consideration. Since in none of the four other places
where it was used does it have the idea of the cessation, but, contrariwise, a
continuance of the thing or condition about which mention is made, it is
presumable that it has the same significance in this case, if there is nothing
in the immediate context indicating a different meaning. As has been noted,
the entire oracle speaks of superior blessing both of royal power and of
material goods. The promise of such wonderful favor and preeminence prior to
the days of Messiah's appearance, if darkened by the forecast of demotion and
humiliation such as the withdrawal of political preeminence after His
appearance, could have but one result-discouragement even to the point of
despair. One could naturally conclude that, if the dynastic preeminence is to
be withdrawn from the tribe at the coming of Messiah, the other blessings also
would likewise be withheld. Such an interpretation is unthinkable. Hence we
may correctly conclude that our idiom has the same significance here that it
does in the other places. The passage therefore teaches that there will be a
continuance of the blessings after Messiah comes.
Had Jacob desired to convey the idea that the function of government would be
withdrawn from the tribe of Judah at the coming of Messiah, undoubtedly he
would have used the expression which would convey that thought. Ezekiel, in
21:27 of his prophecy (a passage which is an echo of Jacob's oracle as we
shall later see), addressing the wicked one of the end time, used the proper
word to indicate the fact that the priestly and royal crowns could not be
appropriated by anyone until Messiah comes, who has the sole right to wear
"I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: this also shall be no more, until he
come whose right it is; and I will give it him."
Since Jacob chose the conjunction which carried the implication of Judah's
probable retention of the royal dignity after Messiah's appearance, I conclude
that there is no suggestion in the passage indicating the passing away of her
prestige and power. The facts of the context favor the explanation under
discussion. The prophecy therefore indicated to Judah that his tribe would be
given the supremacy in the nation, that it should maintain this preeminence to
the time of Messiah's appearance, and that the governmental functions, instead
of ceasing at that time, would continue with his posterity, as the inherent
significance of (adh kiy) implies. Does history confirm the prediction? To
this question we shall now devote our attention. Only by a thorough analysis
of the entire prediction can the truth be ascertained.
II. JUDAH'S SUPREMACY
A. The Significance of (shabhat) and (mechoqaq)
What is the significance of (shabhat)? It literally means a stick, Q staff, a
rod,' a ruler's staff, a sceptre; a stem, tribe, division. In Genesis 49: 10,
evidently it refers to a ruler, for the primary meaning of stick is out of the
question; neither could it signify the tribe, for the oracle states that this
(shabhat) shall not depart from the tribe of Judah. In this case, we are
therefore left to the second meaning, the ruler's staff or sceptre. This
position is confirmed by Balaam's fourth prophecy recorded in Numbers 24:17.
I see him but not now;
I behold him, but not nigh:
There shall come forth a star out of Jacob,
And a sceptre shall rise out of Israel,
And shall smite through the corners of Moab,
And break down all the sons' of tumult.
In the second oracle (23: 21) Balaam was given a vision of Israel's blessed
condition when the Lord God shall reign personally as her King.
He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob;
Neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel:
The Lord his God is with him,
And the shout of a king is among them.
That God will reign over Israel in this personal manner is evident from the
parallel structure of this verse. In line three Balaam declared that God is
with Israel; then in line four, which is parallel to this statement, and which
serves as a comment upon it, the prophet showed in what way God will be with
the nation, namely, as her King. In announcing his fourth vision to the king,
Balaam exclaimed: "I see him, but not now; I behold him but not nigh." The
king, who had listened attentively to the three former oracles, could draw but
one conclusion from these lines--that in the present vision Israel's same
glorious King of the future, whom he had seen in the second revelation,
appeared in all His splendor and power before the prophet's startled gaze. In
this verse lines one and two constitute a parallel structure; line three is
also parallel to four; and in like manner lines five and six are parallel. The
ideas of each of these couplets blend into a single thought and these three
poetical units in turn constitute a triple Hebrew parallelism descriptive of
this coming King. The first two lines simply make the announcement that the
one seen in the vision would appear in the distant future. The second couplet
describes him as a king who shall spring from the loins of Israel, whereas the
third foretells the crushing defeat that He will administer to Moab, Balak's
kingdom. The word (shabhat) SCEPTRE, therefore in Genesis 49:10 signifies
regal power and authority. From these two passages it is evident that sceptre
refers to governmental functions.
What is the significance of (mechoqaq)? This word is derived from (qoqach)h
which literally means, to cut, engrave, inscribe, trace, to establish, ordain,
prescribe. The form appearing in this passage is the Piel Participle. When we
realize that this word is parallel to (shabhat), we must accept for its
meaning that which accords with the preceding, corresponding term. Hence we
are led to the conclusion that it refers to the one who decrees judgments and
enacts laws. The promise, contained in these lines, indicates that the
governing power would remain in the hands of Judah until the Great Ruler of
Israel would come. This great future Monarch by
His wisdom and knowledge, power and might, will enact the laws for governing
the nations, who will render loving obedience to Him.
B. Judah's Realization of the Promise of Supremacy
The next question to be determined is, When did Judah gain this supremacy? The
historical record shows that the Lord on account of the disobedience of Saul,
who was of the tribe of Benjamin (I Sam. 15), rejected him and, in keeping
with the prediction of Jacob, chose David of the tribe of Judah to become his
successor. For seven and a half years he reigned in Hebron. After the
assassination of Ish-bosheth, Saul's son and successor, the men of Israel came
to David at Hebron and entered into a covenant of allegiance with him.
Immediately he went to Jerusalem, captured the stronghold, and established
himself firmly on the throne of all Israel. At that time the Lord entered into
an everlasting covenant with him, guaranteeing to him the perpetuity of his
house, throne, and kingdom (II Sam. 7). After reigning thirty-two and one-half
years, he was gathered to his fathers and his son Solomon succeeded him. For
forty years he ruled in matchless splendor. During his tenure of office the
kingdom reached the zenith of its power and influence. Upon his death the ten
northern tribes revolted and set up a rival kingdom. Though the Lord permitted
the establishment of this government, He never did sanction it. From the
standpoint of the divine purpose, it was always an illegitimate institution.
In the fifth year of Rehoboam's reign Shishak, king of Egypt, overran the
kingdom of Judah (II Chron. 12:1-8) . On the walls of the great temple at
Karnak, as I observed when I was there, Shishak pictured Rehoboam and his
subjects as being led into captivity by himself. As to whether or not Judah
was reduced to that extremity one cannot say, since the Biblical record is
silent on that point. The Egyptian monarchs, like those of other nations,
often magnified their accomplishments. The sacred historian simply states that
Rehoboam repented. Then the Lord promised that He would not pour out on
Jerusalem His wrath by the hand of Shishak.
To the people of Judah, and possibly to all observers, it appeared that the
promise of the Lord concerning the perpetuity of the Davidic house had failed.
Hence the inspired poet was led to compose Psalm 89 which deals with the
situation, first from the standpoint of the suffering people and then from the
divine side and the unalterable character of the Davidic covenant. Hear him:
19 Then thou spakest in vision to thy saints, And saidst, I have laid help
upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.
20 I have found David my servant; With my holy oil have I anointed him:
21 With whom my hand shall be established; Mine arm also shall strengthen him.
22 The enemy shall not exact from him, Nor the son of wickedness afflict him.
23 And I will beat down his adversaries before him, And smite them that hate
24 But my faithfulness and my loving kindness shall be with him; And in my
name shall his horn be exalted.
25 I will set his hand also on the sea, And his right hand on the rivers. 26
He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, My God, and the rock of my
27 I also will make him my first-born, The highest of the kings of the earth.
28 My loving kindness will I keep for him for evermore; And my covenant shall
stand fast with him.
29 His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of
30 If his children forsake my law, And walk not in mine ordinances;
31 If they break my statutes, And keep not my commandments;
32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, And their iniquity with
33 But my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, N or suffer my
faithfulness to fail.
34 My covenant will I not break Nor alter the thing that is gone out of my
35 Once have I sworn by my holiness: I will not lie unto David:
36 His seed shall endure for ever, And his throne as the sun before me.
37 It shall be established for ever as the moon, And as the faithful witness
in the sky. Selah (Ps. 89:19-37).
This inspired hymn is a divine interpretation of the meaning of Jacob's
prediction. Judah obtained the government and preeminence upon the accession
of David to the throne. About thi5 position there can be no question. In the
northern kingdom there were numerous dynastic changes during the 264 years of
its stormy career. Not so was it in the southern realm. The dynasty never
changed. God was true to His covenant with David. On account of Judah's sins
and rebellion the Lord had to chasten her by allowing both the Assyrians and
the Babylonians to invade the country and to commit every kind of depredation.
Finally the kingdom fell and the leading citizens were taken into captivity to
the exile and under Zerubbabel, a prince of the house of David, the nation was
restored and the temple rebuilt.
On account of continued rebellion and a stubborn refusal to accept the divine
will, the Lord allowed first the Medes and the Persians to exercise authority
over the nation. Next, this power was granted to the Greeks and finally to the
Romans. All during this foreign domination the governmental functions remained
in the tribe of Judah. Notwithstanding the overlordship of these various
nations Judah all the time maintained a quasi-independence. Even under the
iron heel of Rome she practically enjoyed an autonomous existence. During this
period of domination, therefore, the governmental functions still remained in
the tribe of Judah. According to the divine promise it could not have been
In the year 70 of the common era, however, a great change came into the life
of the Chosen People. The anti-Roman rebellion, which began in Galilee in 66,
was finally suppressed, and the national life blotted out at the capture of
Jerusalem in 70. Thus in that fateful year the governmental function ceased
from Judah. From that day to the present neither this tribe nor any other of
the tribes has enjoyed national life or liberty. Since the capitulation of
Jerusalem, Israel has been wandering among the nations of earth-a people
without a land, and yet to her the promise was given in perpetuity. According
to this oracle, Messiah appears while the ruling power is still enjoyed by
Judah. Did the promise of God fail? Let us see.
III. MESSIAH'S FIRST APPEARANCE
The word first in connection with appearance implies that there is at least a
second manifestation. By the use of this ordinal I am assuming that which I
shall attempt to prove in this section. Under division IV, I shall show that
there is a second appearance of Messiah included in this wonderful prediction.
Then in section V, I shall show how these two comings blend into the one
picture presented in this oracle.
To Judah Jacob said that the ruling power should not depart from his tribe
until Shiloh comes, and that unto Him should be the obedience of the people.
Having ascertained in the preceding section the significance of sceptre and
lawgiver, the existence and continuance of which governmental functions are
Shiloh makes His appearance with the implication that they continue
thereafter, we must now investigate the significance of the promise concerning
this great Ruler. There has been much discussion as to the meaning of this
wonderful prediction. Though the word Shiloh is not a common Messianic title,
the consensus of scholarship is that the oracle is Messianic. There is
therefore no necessity of discussing a proposition on which practically all
There is however another phase of this subject on which there is some
disagreement, and, because of the diversity of opinions, much confusion
exists. I will therefore at once face the problem. What is the significance of
the statement, "Until Shiloh come"? Discussing the "Early Rays of Messianic
Glory" in my book Messiah: His Nature and Person, I had occasion to
investigate many different renderings of the clause. By the process of
elimination all but one of the translations had to be thrown out as
unsatisfactory, since they did not fit into the context perfectly. That one
which was found to agree with all the facts of the passage is "Until He come
whose right (authority) it is." In discussing this prediction I showed that
this prophecy was but an echo of the primitive oracle relative to the world
Redeemer (Gen. 3:15). (See pages 42-54 of that volume.) Jacob assumed on the
part of his sons a thorough knowledge of this future Redeemer. This fact is
apparent from the language which he used, "Until he come whose right it is."
Had they not understood the reference, they would have had to ask him to
explain this meaning. Who has the right to rule the world and to receive the
loving homage and the obedience of the nations? He who owns it and upon whom
the Lord confers this great honor. According to the primeval promise "the seed
of the woman" is the one who shall win it by conquest over Satan. Undoubtedly
this language to Judah points backward to this first promise.
Governmental functions shall not pass from the tribe of Judah until this great
Conqueror comes. We have already seen that the idiom translated until, instead
of implying that the conditions mentioned continue up to a given time or place
and cease when the time designated arrives or the place suggested is reached,
rather indicates that the existing situation continues as before but with some
possible modification. But since we know that the supremacy and preeminence
here promised to the tribe of Judah actually did pass away when the national
life was blotted out by the fall of
Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the Messiah, according to the oracle, must have made His
appearance before that event. Since the Word of God is infallible, from this
conclusion there can be no escape. Therefore we may proclaim with all
confidence that the Messiah of Israel did appear prior to that calamity.
Whether or not the world and Israel recognized Him is a matter beside the
issue. Jacob promised that Judah would be in possession of the controlling
power and authority when Messiah would come. She completely lost her autonomy,
home-land, and national life in 70 C.E. Therefore we know absolutely that the
Messiah came before that event. Since Israel did not recognize Him and accept
Him, but rather rejected Him, and since the Scripture cannot be broken,
evidently He accepted the invitation of the Lord to return and to sit at His
right hand, as set forth in Psalm 110:1-3, until the nation will welcome Him
and enthusiastically accept Him.
1 Jehovah saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine
enemies thy footstool.
2 Jehovah will send forth the rod of thy strength out of Zion: Rule thou in
the midst of thine enemies.
3 Thy people offer themselves willingly In the day of thy power, in holy
array: Out of the womb of the morning Thou hast the dew of thy youth (Ps.
IV. MESSIAH'S SECOND APPEARANCE
In the preceding section we saw that the Messiah was to appear the first time
while the governmental functions remained in Judah. We learn from history that
Judah lost her autonomy and national life in 70 C.E. Therefore we concluded
that Messiah came prior to that great catastrophe. This promise includes
world-dominion and absolute obedience to Messiah on the part of all nations.
Since He did not fulfill all of these promises when He came., we may be sure
that He will return and fulfill all that the Lord has promised. Of this fact
we may be confident since God watches over His Word to perform it.
11 Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest
thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond-tree.
12 Then said Jehovah unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I watch over my word to
perform it (Jer. 1:11-12).
What Messiah is to do for Israel may be summarized under three headings.
A. To Stop Wars and to Adjust all Evils
According to Jacob's prediction all nations will render pious, loving
obedience to King Messiah. When such conditions as these obtain, there will
never he any more wars. At the present time some of the leading statesmen of
the world are endeavoring to plan and devise ways and means whereby wars may
be outlawed. These efforts are laudable. These men devoting their lives and
energies to such high ideals are to be commended. Therefore I would not say
anything derogatory of them or their efforts. I wish to say however, in this
connection that, according to the sure word of prophecy, no man nor group of
men will be able to stop wars. King Messiah alone is the one who can
accomplish this herculean task. According to the primitive promise He is the
one conquering him who is the source of all wars and evils, the devil. In the
final conflict of the ages there will be a real combat between "the seed of
the woman," King Messiah, and "the seed of the serpent,'" Satan. In this great
combat the injury which Satan inflicts upon the Messiah is compared to a
slight wound on the heel, whereas the victory which King Messiah gains over
him is represented as a crushing blow upon the head. In this ancient promise
the idea of Messiah’s causing wars to cease is found.
The prophets and the psalmists took this germinal thought and developed it as
they sang of the glorious victories of the Redeemer oŁ man. For instance, in
Psalm 46 the inspired writer sees the wreckage that shall be brought upon the
world by the desolating judgments of the Great Tribulation. After the din of
battle has ceased, the Psalmist, in his vision, summons those who survive this
major catastrophe of the ages to come and see the great desolations which the
Lord has wrought in the earth, for it is He who "maketh wars to cease unto the
end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He
burneth the chariots in the fire" (Ps. 46:9).
Isaiah likewise saw the time when wars shall be no more. In his vision of the
great kingdom age (2:1-4) he informs us that all nations will make pilgrimages
to Jerusalem from year to year for the purpose of worshiping the Lord of
Hosts, who will be enthroned in power, and who will teach these pilgrims. At
that time He will be the judge between the nations and render decisions among
the peoples of the earth. Nevermore will they learn war; but rather they will
beat their swords into plowshares and their
spears into pruning hooks. From these and many other predictions we see that
Messiah is the one who will stop all wars.
B. To Restore Israel
In the outline of Israel's history, which was pre-written by Moses (Lev. 26;
Deut. 28-30), we read that, should Israel be disobedient, God would scatter
her among the nations, that her land would lie desolate, that she would be a
hiss and a by-word in the lands of her enemies, and that, when she confesses
her iniquity and that of her fathers, God will remember the land and His
covenant which He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (See Lev. 26:39f). In
this forecast we see that the Lord promised to re-gather Israel. He did not
say by whom He would accomplish this feat. There is, however, a suggestion in
the Torah which throws light upon this point. Moses, in compliance with a
request of his brethren, veiled his face so that they could not see the glory
of his countenance. In the eighteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, verses 15-19, he
informed Israel that she did well in requesting the Lord not to speak to her
again as He had done at Sinai. In connection with this statement is God's
promise that He would raise up a prophet like unto Moses from among the
Hebrews, that He would put His words into this prophet's mouth, that this one
would speak faithfully His message, and that He would require perfect
obedience to Him. When we study the general characteristics of the life of
Moses and his official positions of deliverer and lawgiver, we are led to the
conclusion that this prophet can be none other than the Hebrew Messiah. Some
have taken exception to this position on the ground that the Messiah is in no
other passage called a prophet. This objection is not valid. The choice of His
name was determined by the attendant circumstances. A psychological principle
which guides us today in the selection of mental images and figures of speech
leads us to choose those words and expressions that are suggested by the
circumstances. Since Israel trembled at the voice of God when He spoke in
thundering tones from Sinai, they requested that He speak indirectly to them
through Moses. This petition was equivalent to a request for God to raise up
prophets who always would deliver the divine Oracles to them. In compliance
with their wishes, the Lord therefore, speaking in their own terms, promised
them a prophet who would be a greater Deliverer and Lawgiver than their own
The great statesman-prophet Isaiah, in the oracle in which he impersonated the
Messiah, declared that the Lord would send this Servant specifically "to raise
up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel." "And now
saith Jehovah that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob
again to him, and that Israel be gathered unto him (for I am honorable in the
eyes of Jehovah, and my God is become my strength); yea, he saith, It is too
light a thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of
Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a
light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the
earth" (Isa. 49:5, 6).
From these verses it is evident that the object of Messiah's mission in coming
into the world is twofold: first, to restore the tribes of Israel to their
homeland and to fellowship with God; secondly, to become His salvation unto
the ends of the earth. Other prophets spoke of the same things, but these
citations are sufficient to confirm this position.
c. To Receive the Obedience of the Nations
Our prediction says that "unto him (i.e., Messiah) shall be the obedience of
the peoples." The word translated obedience literally carries the idea of
pious or loving submission to His behests. From this passage it is clear that
the nations of the world will render this obedience. Some have erroneously
thought that the word (ammiym) refers to the tribes of Israel. This position
is incorrect, for this word is used throughout the Tenach to refer to the
nations. Since there is nothing in the context to indicate a deviation from
its usual significance, it is a mistake to force upon it a secondary, or
strained meaning. Therefore we must believe that this oracle is a prediction
that Messiah will eventually receive the obedience of all nations. This same
forecast appears in Psalm 2:7-9:7
I will tell of the decree:
Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my son;
This day have I begotten thee.
8 Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance,
And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
In the psalmist's impersonation of Messiah he quotes the language of the
Father to the Son in which He promised Him the obedience of the nations. This
same note is sounded by Solomon, the author
of Psalm 72, in the following verses. A casual glance at this passage reveals
the fact that it presents the glorious reign of King Messiah concerning who-m
it is said that the kings of the earth shall fall down before Him, and that
all nations shall serve Him.
8 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea,
And from the River unto the ends of the earth.
9 They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him;
And his enemies shall lick the dust.
10 The kings of Tarshish and of the is1es shall render tribute:
The kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
11 Yea, all kings shall fall down before him;
All nations shall serve him (Ps. 72:8-11).
V. THE BLENDING OF THE Two APPEARANCES OF KING MESSIAH
Under section III we learned that Messiah was scheduled to make His appearance
while the dominion and preeminence were lodged in the tribe of Judah.
Furthermore we saw that supremacy passed away from that tribe, in fact from
the entire nation, in the year 70 C.E. Therefore we rightfully concluded that
Messiah came prior to that date. Under section IV we also saw that Messiah in
coming to earth has a threefold objective: first, to stop wars and all evils;
secondly, to bring Israel back into fellowship with her God and to
rehabilitate her in the land of her fathers; and thirdly, to reign over the
nations of the earth in righteousness. Since He did not accomplish any of
these ends when He was here the first time, and since the Word of God will be
fulfilled literally, we may rightly conclude that He will come again and
achieve these most desirable and beneficent objectives, the germinal promise
of which we found in this primitive oracle. These facts and observations lead
us to the inevitable conclusion that the two comings of the one Messiah are
blended in Jacob's prediction. Therefore we shall study in this section the
fading of the pictures of Messiah's two comings into one, the interval
separating them, and the significance of the prophecy in general.
A. The Mystery Period
The analysis of this oracle has led to the irresistible conclusion that there
are two comings off the one Messiah foretold in this primeval oracle. Since we
are living on this side of the catastrophe of 70 C.E., when the national life
of Israel became extinct, and since Messiah has not restored Israel, has not
caused wars to cease,
and has not begun His reign of righteousness over the nations, the fulfillment
of which promises God will accomplish, we can be certain that the period
between 70 C.E. and the time of Messiah's return is passed over in silence in
this prediction. The prophets of Israel looking into the future and
foretelling events were, as a rule, at a disadvantage, since from their point
of view, figuratively speaking, they did not have the proper perspective.
In the discussion of the conjunction (adh kiy) we learned that the implication
of this connective is that the condition existing up to a given time will
continue thereafter indefinitely, unless there is something in the context to
limit its meaning. Doubtless this idiom was chosen, in this particular
instance, in order to cause the two comings to blend imperceptibly into one
picture. There is a sound psychological principle involved in the withholding
of some of the facts connected with this prediction. In those primitive times
the revelation had not been made sufficiently to justify the Lord's entering
into a detailed explanation of the future. This information was reserved for
later generations that would be educated up to the point of appreciating this
That interval of time, frequently passed over in the Scriptures without any
mention of the fact, may be seen by a study of the period between the Exodus
and the building of Solomon's temple. When one accepts, without any
reservations, all the chronological data concerning this period, and when he
has made the correct mathematical calculations based thereupon, as we shall
see, he will find that these two events were separated by 594 years. In I
Kings 6:1, however, we are told by the inspired writer that this period
consisted of 480 years. There is a seeming discrepancy between the statement
of this particular verse and the Biblical data found in other passages
relative to this' time. By simple subtraction we find that there is an excess
of 114 years, above the statement in I Kings, set forth in the various
passages relating the history of this epoch. By adding the number of years
during which Israel was in subjection to foreign powers together with the
three years of usurpation by Abimelech, we find that there were exactly 114
years. Without doubt during this time Israel was out of fellowship with her
God. Since these years of disfavor and rejection are exactly the same as the
excess years passed over by the sacred historian in his blanket statement
concerning this same era, we conclude that the 480 years are theocratic; that
is, a cycle of time during which Israel in fellowship with her God permits Him
to rule. Some one
has aptly said that God's clock stops when the Chosen People are out of
fellowship with Him. Accepting this statement as true one would conclude that
the nation is out of fellowship with her Maker during the period between
Messiah's two comings. This observation probably explains why the prophets
constantly, with a few exceptions, blended the descriptions of the two comings
of the one Messiah and passed over in silence the intervening years.
B. The Law of the Double Fulfillment of Prophecy
The explanation made in the last section leads to a brief discussion of what
is known among Biblical students as the law of the double or manifold
fulfillment of prophecy. This principle obtains throughout the prophetic word.
Unless the student recognizes the existence of this most important law and is
governed thereby, he will become greatly confused in his study of the Word of
God. The reader will permit my using an illustration which I frequently employ
in setting forth this principle. With a stereopticon a picture is sometimes
thrown upon the screen. Presently it begins to fade and at the same time the
dim outlines of another appear. As the former fades, the latter becomes
clearer and more distinct. By the time the first one has vanished from the
screen, the second is in full view. Thus it is with the prophetic word.
Speaking in terms of this illustration I may say that the two first lines of
Jacob's prediction present Messiah's first coming before the preeminent
authority passed from the tribe of Judah. Presently this picture begins to
fade and the dim outline of Messiah's second advent appears and blends
imperceptibly with the picture of His first coming. Suddenly the
representation of His former appearance vanishes from the screen and the
forecast of His second coming in glory and power is before our startled gaze.
Whenever we come across a prediction relative to the coming of Messiah, we
should study it carefully and compare it with the life of the Hebrew Messiah,
who evidently came prior to 70 C.E., and when we come to the conclusion that
all the events of this particular prediction were not fulfilled by Him at that
time, we rightly conclude that the details connected with His second coming
are delicately blended with the forecast concerning His first appearance. A
recognition of this most important principle, which obtains in the prophetic
word, will solve many of the difficulties, which we otherwise would encounter,
and will make the prophecies intelligible and profitable to us.
In this investigation we have learned a number of most important truths, but
there are a few which I wish may stand out in bold relief before our minds.
One is that the Torah foretells the coming of the Messiah prior to the fall of
the Jewish nation, which catastrophe occurred 70 C.E. From this Scripture,
however, we cannot tell the exact year when He was scheduled to come, or what
He was to accomplish at that time. Some of this information is given in later
predictions. A second thought in connection with this prophecy to be
emphasized is that the Torah outlines, in embryonic form, Messiah's redemptive
career. Our analysis of this prediction has yielded the following facts:
first, He is to appear prior to 70 C.E. Though no information is here given as
to His activities, these details are left for later prophets to reveal. In a
general way, the Jews who lived prior to the first century of this era could
conclude from a study of this oracle that Judah would still be enjoying the
preeminence among the tribes of Israel at the time of His coming. They also
would naturally infer from it, interpreted alone and prior to the giving of
any further details by later prophets, that Messiah upon His appearance would
receive the obedience of all nations. This much is clear and indisputable. As
time passed and new situations arose which demanded light that could come only
from revelations concerning the future, the Lord graciously met the need.
Hence we find in the writings of the prophets passages which, figuratively
speaking, analyze this first forecast and throw a flood of light upon it.
Speaking in terms of the portrait painter, I would say that Jacob simply
blocked out the picture of Messiah and His work, but left this rough sketch to
be finished later by the prophets.
That the analysis presented above is correct may be seen by a glance at Psalm
1 Jehovah saith unto my Lord,
Sit thou at my right hand,
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2 Jehovah will send forth the rod of thy strength out of Zion:
Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
The ancient synagogue correctly interpreted this passage messianically. In
these verses King Messiah is seen in Zion, the population of which is hostile
to Him. Then the Lord from heaven urges Him to leave the city, to ascend to
His right hand, and to remain there until He puts these enemies under
Messiah's feet. At that time Israel will be brought to the point that she will
accept Him and welcome His return. Then He will come back to Zion and be
enthroned as her King.
From this hasty glance at this marvelous, comprehensive oracle, we see clearly
the two comings of Messiah and the period intervening during which He is
seated at the right hand of the throne of God in heaven. Since all truth
harmonizes, we can be certain that this passage is in perfect accord with the
prediction of Jacob. Speaking in a figure, I would compare Genesis 49:10 to a
ray of sunlight that has simply gone through a plain glass and Psalm 110:1, 2
to the same ray after it has passed through a prism, which dissects it into
the spectrum of the rainbow. The prism through which this early ray of
Messianic glory passed was the inspired mind and heart of King David, who, in
this and other matchless passages, painted this spectrum of Israel's glorious
hope in the iridescent hues of its constituent, original, elemental shades.
The conclusion of the whole matter is that Messiah made His first appearance
while the ruling power and influence among the tribes of Israel were still
enjoyed by the tribe of Judah. Since she lost her national life in 70 of the
common era, we know with absolute certainty that He has already come the first
time. From other predictions we shall endeavor to learn, if possible, the
Return To Table Of Contents