Today’s reading includes Judges 1:1-2:9, Luke 21:29-22:13, Psalm 90:1-91:16, Proverbs 13:24-25.
Today’s reading begins a new book of the Old Testament, as well as a new season in the life of the Israelites. It begins with a big sigh and a question. It is time to pick up the pieces and go forward, despite the death of the leader. Upon first glance, I saw that the Israelites are finally seeking the Lord themselves. They aren’t waiting for a leader to see the Lord on their behalf.
“After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, ‘Which tribe should go first to attack the Canaanites?”
What strikes me as interesting, is that they knew what they must do, and they knew who to ask how to do it. They had observed Moses and Joshua, and now it was time to follow their example on their own. Remember, the story of Noah’s sons? One was cursed because of his behavior towards his dad. The other two were blessed, with one more blessed than the other.
The blessing Noah bestowed on his sons was distributed in this order:
Then Ham, or Canaan, who received a curse
Why is this information important? First of all, the Canaanites, Ham’s descendants, became enemies of the Israelites. The Canaanites occupied the Promised Land, which was promised to the Israelites. The Canaanites followed false gods, and God warned His people not to be overcome nor influenced by the Canaanites.
The Israelites, on the other hand, were direct descendants of Shem. Abraham was a direct descendent of Shem, as was Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s sons, which formed the tribes of Israel. So, now the Israelites are in the Promise land, ready to conqueror what is rightfully theirs. And they pose the question, “Which tribe will go first to attack the Canaanites?”
The Lord answered, “Judah, for I have given them victory over the land.”
This answer the Lord gave was not only practical—He would give them victory at that time—it was also prophetic. You will remember that Judah was not the first-born son. He was actually the fourth son of Jacob. But it was Judah, whose name meant “This time I will praise the Lord”, who would be in the direct lineage of the only One who can truly defeat our enemies. Judah was a direct ancestor of Jesus.
In his time of blessing over his son, Jacob spoke these words:
“Judah,[b] your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9 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?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[c]
until he to whom it belongs[d] shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
11 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.
12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
his teeth whiter than milk.[e]
There is so much we could dissect in that blessing, but today I want you to see the prophetic word spoken over Judah, which would have prophetically been passed down to his ancestors. They were the lions–the “king of the jungle”, the fierce, the brave, the conquerors. Most importantly, they carried the Seed who would fulfill this part of the prophesy: “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come…” He, to whom it belongs, is the Lion of Judah–Jesus the conquering Christ.
And so we read in this passage about God’s chosen tribe, the tribe of Judah, going forth and conquering the Canaanites. They had great victory, much more than any of the other tribes. The others tried, and conquered some, but over and over we see that they failed to drive out their enemies. Perhaps because they were not reliant upon the Lion of Judah to come, as were the tribe of Judah.
Now, the conquering Christ has sent His Holy Spirit to those who believe. And for this reason, we, too, can conquer our enemies, our sins, our trials, our temptations. We have the Lion of Judah on our side, and we fight our battles in His strength, not our own.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.