Friday, December 20, 2013

The Fullness of Time - Shiloh


The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” – Genesis 49:10

King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”  The life of Christ was one with specific timing, and specific purpose.  His birth was to be at a specific time. 

Had He been born at the time of God’s covenant with Noah, we may not have understood the wrath and mercy of God. God destroyed all the earth at that time due to the wickedness that prevailed.  All animals, plant life, and people were destroyed, except for those that God placed on the Ark (Genesis 6).  But after the destruction, Noah built an altar.  He offered up a burnt sacrifice of animals and birds to God.  Genesis 8:21 says “And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.”  God made a promise to Noah that He would never again destroy the earth by flood.  We needed to see God’s willingness to destroy wickedness, and we needed to see God’s grace and mercy extended to those on the Ark.

Had Jesus been born at the time of God’s promise to Abraham, we may not have understood that faith pleases God.  At seventy-five years old, Abraham heard the voice of God saying in Genesis 12:1-3, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.”  Imagine the faith it took to uproot your family, leave the country you had known all your life and everyone you knew behind, and travel to a place that you had never seen.  There were no maps, no GPS, no weather forecasters, only the voice of God to direct him.  And because He was faithful, God said to Abraham, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  Because Abraham was faithful to God, from His children would come the Messiah, a blessing to all the families of the earth. From Abraham’s decedents would come the Nation of Israel.

Being old and having a wife that was barren, it took faith to believe even a single child could be born to them.  But in Genesis 15:5 God said to Abraham, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them. So shall your descendants be.”  And because Abraham believed, his faith was accounted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:7, Romans 4:3), even as our own righteousness comes through faith in God and the Son, Jesus Christ.

Had Jesus been born at the time of God’s covenant with Moses, we may not have understood our sinful nature and dependence on God.  While the children of Israel were in slavery to Pharaoh, God came to Moses and gave him ten plagues to be pronounced on Egypt, each one showing the people of Israel His power.  When they had been freed from Egypt, He made a covenant with Moses for the people, and instructed Moses to tell them in Exodus 19:8-6, “if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.  And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’”  Obey my voice, and keep my covenant – that was all we had to do.  In return, God would allow us to be a special people to Him, a Holy Nation.  But we could not do it! 

God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the Levitical Laws for the people to follow, yet before he came down the mountain with the Ten Commandments, they had already broken the first one.  God knew they could not keep the laws, but the laws were necessary.  Romans 3:20 says that “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  Through the laws given to Moses we understand our sinful nature. 

When the people of Israel sinned, they brought a sacrifice to the priest who offered it to God as a payment of their sins.  Being unholy, we were not allowed to enter the presence of God to offer our own sacrifice.  The priest would bring it to God.  But the forgiveness of sins was always given by God.  We are still dependent on God’s forgiveness for our righteousness. 

Having understood the wrath and mercy of God, that faith is necessary to please God, and that we have a sinful nature, and are dependent on Him for righteousness, God made another covenant.  This covenant was made with David, a descendent of Abraham.
God saw the fine house that King David lived in, and came to the prophet Nathan with a message to King David.  The message was “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in?” (2 Samuel 7:5).  God wanted a temple, a place to be with His people.  But I believe that God wanted even more.  God also told David that “He will make you a house”.  The temple would be a temporary dwelling place for God to be near His people, until Christ came and allowed us to become the temple for His Holy Spirit.  Christ was promised as the “He” that will “make you a house”.

God promised to bless David, and establish his throne with his descendants.  In 2 Samuel 7: 12-16 God says, “I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.”   And later, “Your throne shall be established forever.” 

It was necessary that Jesus be born of the tribe of Judah to fulfill God’s promise to David and to establish a royal people from his house.  But it was also necessary that it happen at the exact timing of Jesus’ birth. 

At the time of His birth, Herod the Great was King of Judah.  For the first time in history, the throne of Judah was filled by someone who was not of Jewish descent.  Yet, God had promised that the throne of David would be established forever.  In Genesis 49:10, Jacob’s blessing over his son Judah prophesies of this time, saying The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.”

Shiloh in Hebrew means “to whom it belongs”.  In Matthew 1 we read the genealogy of Jesus Christ.  David was born fourteen generations after Abraham.  Jesus was born 28 generations after David, and was therefore, the “Son of David”, fulfilling the promise to David that his throne would be established forever.

Galatians 4:4 says “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  Through Noah, we learned of God’s wrath and mercy.  Through Abraham, we learned the importance of faith, and that faith pleases God.  Through Moses, we learned of our sinful nature and dependence on God.  Through the promise made to David, that “He will make you a house”, we receive Jesus Christ.
The throne being occupied by Herod was the time for which Christ should come and take it back, because it belonged to Him.  Shiloh, “to whom it belongs”, points to the fact that the throne of Israel was God’s from the very beginning.  God had been the King of the Israelites until they rejected Him, and  begged for an earthly King (1 Samuel 8:4-7), and He gave them Saul.  In returning the throne “to whom it belongs”, He reclaimed His people, establishing Jesus as our King.  And as our Lord and King, “to Him shall be the obedience of the people”. 

Shiloh has come, in the fullness of time.

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