Christ as “the Sceptre of Israel” is a lesser-known title of the OT Messiah, and yet it is of utmost importance for us to understand. It is this one of several titles that designates the Messiah as a King that actively rules and reigns.
Let us take a few moments to come to look at prophecies of the reigning Messiah, our King.
Gen 49:10-12 (KJV)
10) The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him [shall] the gathering of the people [be].
11) Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:
12) His eyes [shall be] red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.
Num 24:16-17 (KJV)
16) He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, [which] saw the vision of the Almighty, falling [into a trance], but having his eyes open:
17) I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
Luke 1:30-33 (KJV)
30) And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31) And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32) He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33) And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
1Tim 6:14-16 (KJV)
14) That thou keep [this] commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
15) Which in his times he shall shew, [who][ is] the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
16) Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom [be] honour and power everlasting. Amen.
Heb 1:8-9 (KJV)
8) But unto the Son [he saith], Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness [is] the sceptre of thy kingdom.
9) Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, [even] thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
A “scepter” is a rod or pole that was used in OT times to be symbolic of ruling power. Kings in those days, would hold a scepter in the presence of their subjects reminding them of His absolute influence over them and their subject’s obligation of submission. To say that the Messiah would be “the scepter of Israel”, is teaching us that He would be the ultimate authority holder over His people.
The Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah being placed in the ultimate position of authority over His people as Sovereign Ruler is found in two passages….
In Genesis 49:10, we find the Messiah (Shiloh) is included in a list of kings (“sceptres”) that would have ruling influence over the nation of Israel. This passage is found as a part of Jacob’s blessing to his son Judah… “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come” The following two verses include several other prophecies concerning the accomplishments of the Messiah during His coming to the earth.
In this Scripture, we find that the Messiah would be a descendent of the tribe of Judah and would be the last of a 400 year dynasty of kings over Israel
In Num 24:17, we find a prophecy of the coming Messiah spoken by the prophet Baalam… “there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel,” This prophecy concludes by describing great conquests that will be had by this King over those who reject His rule.
In the Scriptural record of the New Testament, we find that Jesus was clearly designated as the fulfillment of these prophecies.
In Hebrews 1:8, We have God the Father speaking to Jesus, who is spoken of as possessing a kingly throne and given a “Sceptre” of righteousness… “But unto the Son [he saith], Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness [is] the sceptre of thy kingdom.” This prophecy then goes further describing Christ’s love for justice and the keeping of divine law, resulting in Him being blessed above all other kings.
As a side note, in the context, we see the divinity of Christ in view. In this wonderful description of Christ, He is given the title “O God” by God the Father.
In the angel’s announcement of the birth of Christ to His mother, Mary, there is a reference made to Christ being placed in the position of ultimate authority by the Father…. “and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” In this very familiar passage, we can see that He would be given the authority to rule over God’s people would be endless, stretching into eternity future.
The Apostle Paul describes Jesus as the Supreme Ruler over all mankind in 1 Tim 6:14-15…“… our Lord Jesus Christ:Which in his times he shall shew, [who][ is] the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;” His ruling authority would be surpassed by none. He is the ultimate Ruler with all other worldly authorities placed into submission to Him. In the verses that follow this section of Scripture, the Holiness and Supremacy of Christ is emphasized as the eternal King and Lord over all.
Our quick look at the promise that the coming Messiah would be “the Sceptre of Israel: clearly shows to us that Christ completely fulfills this prophesy. This principle comes into clear focus when we see that He is our Ruler in three different aspects:
1. He is currently the King over His people, the “Israel of God” (Gal 6:14-18), this is proven by the many references to saved people being a part of His “kingdom” (John 3:3-5; John 18:36; Rom 14:17; Col 1:13). The outstanding characteristic of these citizens is the acknowledgement of His authority and the desire to submit to His will. Many times, this aspect of His reign is described as His reign “in the hearts” of His people, or the “invisible rule” of His people.
2. He is currently ruling as Sovereign Lord over all mankind (He controls all things NOW). He does not only exercise authority over those He has saved, but He also reigns over the whole of mankind. In this aspect of His kingdom many individuals do not recognize, nor seek to submit to, His authority; and yet, He has them all under His hand of control. (Rev 11:15; 1 Cor 15:23-28; Eph 1:20-21; Heb 2:7-8)
3. There a future aspect of His kingdom which will take place into eternity future, which will be characterized by unqualified perfection wrought by the perfect obedience and the complete holiness of its citizens. (1 Cor 15:24, Eph 5:5, 1 Thess 2:12, 2 Tim 4:1,18; Rev 11:15; Rev 21:1-8)
Folks, as those who have been saved by God’s grace, we are currently experiencing our Lord’s rule in our hearts and minds through the Holy Spirit He has given to us. We can also look around us and see the Sovereign hand of God at work among the affairs of all mankind. Finally, we can study the Bible and, with our eyes of faith, see the wondrous eternal kingdom of God that awaits us.
All of these emphasize to us that our Lord Jesus Christ is the promised OT Messiah sent by God to save His people from their sins and to reign in righteousness for an eternity.
May the Lord bless our study of His Word.
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