The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh [Messiah] comes. Genesis 49:10
If I look for a human being to emulate, Joseph is always a good choice. His fidelity to God amidst great suffering has inspired us down through the ages. Of all of Jacob’s sons, Joseph gets the most attention. Yet, it is not from the line of Joseph that Jesus was born. The extremely flawed sons of Jacob didn’t mess things up so badly that God disqualified them from the promise. God’s covenant prevailed over sin.
What was the purpose of Joseph’s life? To save Judah and His descendants. If Joseph had not assumed a place of power in Egypt, he could not have brought his father and brothers to a place of abundance. Jacob and all of his descendants would have perished in the great famine. It’s hard for us to grasp that Joseph was used by God to save a brother who had sold him into slavery. It seems twisted to our sense of justice.
But God is wild and wonderful. He is also unpredictable. He exalts the likes of Judah. He blesses adulterers like King David. He forgives betrayers like Peter. He saves persecutors and murderers like Paul. Judah, at the end of his life, offered to give his own for the life of another brother. His father, Jacob, lived long enough to see Judah choose righteousness. The common thread in all of these stories was a heart of repentance. God’s forgiveness was, and is, so radical that an entire past is put under His atoning blood.
No family is perfect. In the past few days, I’ve heard from more than a few who say that they have not seen their grandchildren in years. They grieve over that and feel embarrassed in public when others ask if they have children and grandchildren. Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ relevant to them? Is it relevant to us in the very places we long to see the righteousness of God revealed in the lives of our family members? Oh yes.
This Christmas, as we hear the Christmas story and are tempted to zone out at the reading of the lineage of Jesus, let’s wake up and sit on the edge of our seat. When Judah’s name is mentioned, we can rejoice that God works in family messes. No one is out of His reach. We should never stop praying for forthcoming repentance. God is good for every promise He has made.
For every family ‘Joseph’, there are tears of joy. For every family ‘Judah’, there are tears of faith. You are God over every family drama that is brought to your feet in prayer. Amen