Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled Part 4

Jacob on his deathbed

Jacob on his deathbed

A prophecy concerning the Coming of Messiah had been given by God to the patriarch Jacob.  Jacob/Israel spoke these words concerning Judah and the one who would be his greatest descendant, the Messiah (“Shiloh”), near his death:

“Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.  Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?  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.” (Genesis 49:8-10)

The Anglican Thomas Newton wrote centuries ago a large book called “Dissertations on the Prophecies” which was his attempt at the time to take all of the Bible prophecies starting from Genesis chapter 3 (the seed of the woman prophecy) to Revelation chapter 22 and interpret them with his then-present historical perspective.  I found it through the providence of God a few years ago.  Many interesting facts. Some prophecy interpretations I would disagree with but on the whole quite enlightening.  Here are some notes taken from the 19th century Southern Baptist R.B.C. Howell’s book “The Covenants” (chapter 5)  who quotes Thomas Newton’s interpretation of the Shiloh prophecy:

“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.” The sense of the covenant in the form which it here assumes, need not be mistaken, and yet it has been somewhat embarrassed, partly perhaps, because the authors of our common version of the scriptures seem not to have understood it; and partly because expositors generally, appear not to have comprehended its true relations. A few remarks in explanation from me, is therefore necessary. I may just observe that the word translated scepter means literally a rod, and does not, as so many have imagined, refer here to the regal rule of Judah, but is used metaphorically, to represent the tribe.”

“The substance of this part of the passage is therefore, an assurance that whatever may become of the other tribes, the rod, or tribe of Judah, shall endure in its distinct, and separate, and full existence, until the Messiah promised, the Shiloh springing from that tribe, shall come and accomplish his mission upon earth. I may also remark that the term rendered Lawgiver here means simply, a teacher, or prophet, and nothing more. With these corrections, the whole text will read truly, and plainly thus:- FROM JUDAH HIS DISTINCT EXISTENCE AS A TRIBE SHALL NOT DEPART, NOR AMONG HIS OFFSPRING SHALL A TEACHER BE WANTING, TILL MESSIAH COME, AND UNTO HIM SHALL ALL PEOPLE BE GATHERED. God here pledges that he will himself watch over and preserve this tribe, until “the desire of all nations shall appear.” And how faithfully, in his good providence, this pledge was redeemed, is in the subsequent history of his people, familiar to all who study the sacred records.”

“The other tribes, as is well known, fell into the grossest idolatry, from which no admonitions, or judgments, could recall them. They were at length abandoned to the fury of their enemies, by whom they were overcome, and carried into hopeless captivity. More than seven hundred years before Shiloh appeared, they were all irrecoverably lost, among the nations of the east. Judah by the evident intervention of almighty power, was indestructible, until the promise in this covenant, was gloriously accomplished.”

Here are some interesting remarks concerning “the throne of David” :

“It is necessary to pause here, until I have justified the remark made a moment since, that “the throne of David” upon which Christ is to sit, is employed always, as a metaphor to represent his spiritual reign. A mistake on this point has led to a false philology in religion, by which a full impression of the sense of the covenant with David, has been turned aside, and painfully weakened. It has been supposed to be, not what it really is, the repetition and transfer to him of “the covenant of promise” to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Judah, but another and distinct covenant, which they have been pleased to call “The Covenant of Royalty!” And what do they mean by “the covenant of royalty?”If simply that David had the promise of God, that Messiah who will reign over spiritual Israel forever, should come of his family, and consummate the covenant, then they but perplex the subject by new, and unexplained terms, without any corresponding advantage. But if they mean, as I understand them, that this covenant guaranteed to David the occupancy of his throne, by one of his own descendants, until the coming of Messiah, and that Christ at his second coming, or at some other period, would occupy it literally, their interpretation is contradicted by the facts in history, and by the explanations of both Christ himself, and of his apostles.”

“The facts in history contradict this interpretation. David transmitted the kingdom of Israel to Solomon, and Solomon to Rehoboam. This last king, by he haughtiness of his bearing, and the cruelty of his measures, forfeited the attachment of his people. Ten of the tribes revolted under Jeroboam, became completely dissevered from their brethren, and were never afterwards recovered to the government. Here the reign of the family of David over all Israel, actually, and forever ceased. Indeed, from beginning to end, it continued at most, but three generations, or about one century. Over Judah alone, his descendants continued to reign for several centuries more. At length however Nebuchadnezzar invaded and conquered the nation, destroyed Jerusalem, burned the temple, carried the people into captivity, and desolated the whole land. With this overthrow, which occurred five hundred and eighty nine years before the coming of Christ, ended finally, the reign even over Judah itself, of the family of David. His literal throne existed no more. It is true that after the Babylonish captivity, which continued seventy years, a remnant of the people returned, and Judah was ruled a hundred and twenty eight years, by Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. The first of these was of the house of David, but both the others, were of the tribe of Levi. None of them however, were kings in any sense, but simply governors under foreign authority. During the two hundred and forty two years next succeeding, Judah was governed by her High Priests, all of whom were of the house of Aaron. Mean time the nation was tributary successively, to the Persians, the Greeks, the Egyptians, and the Syrians. From the close of this period until Judea became a Roman province under Herod, and Christ was born, the Jews were under the government of the Asmonean family, known as the Maccabees, all of whom belonged to the priestly tribe. History thus rebukes the interpretation in question. Does the covenant promise David, that his natural sons should reign upon his literal throne, until the coming of Messiah? If so, then it was not fulfilled. But “God’s word cannot be broken.” It was fulfilled. Therefore the promise is to be understood not in a literal sense, but as a metaphor.”


R.B.C. Howell, “The Covenants”

Here’s a link for downloading Thomas Newton’s book (public domain, free to download):

I found the picture at this website:

See also:

Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled Part 5

Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled Part 3

Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled Part 2

Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled Part 1

Blog Intro : The Gospel of Jesus Christ


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