Now let us study about the 4th tribe of Israel, the tribe of Judah. This name is pretty much well-known. Some of us may already have some gained understanding and knowledge regarding this tribe. But we will dig a little deeper on this tribe and in hopes that you will learn more things about them and why they will be found in heaven.
Let us remember that a name has no weight of record in heaven if it is separated from character. In other words, our name is not going to be a basis on whether we will be found in heaven or not, but rather it is our character that is going to be determined whether we are worthy of heaven or not. It is what we do here on earth that determines our fitness for heaven.
Revelation 22:12 “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
So again, it is what we do and not our name. Remember how Reuben failed to show a character worthy to receive the blessings of a firstborn? His blessings were transferred to his other brothers who manifested and developed characters worthy of the blessings. For example, Joseph received the double portion of his father’s inheritance. This is the temporal birthright. It has to do with wealth. Then Judah received the spiritual birthright of becoming an ancestor of the Messiah. But managing or controlling great wealth does not require that much ability compared to receiving a spiritual birthright and becoming the tribe where the Messiah will come from. This portion is what Judah received.
1 Chronicles 5:2 says that Judah “prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the Chief Ruler.” So, who is the Chief Ruler? It’s Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. He is to come to earth in human flesh from the tribe of Judah.
And in Jacob’s deathbed, this blessing was pronounced over Judah. We can read from
Genesis 49:10, “The scepter 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.”
So the question goes: How did Judah prevail above his brethren and thus inherit the spiritual birthright? This issue is of great importance to all of us especially those who are desiring for a great spiritual birthright by which all of us may become heirs of eternal inheritance. We cannot read any verse from the Bible that will tell us that Judah prevailed over his brethren by force of arms. But if we carefully study the lives of the 12 sons of Jacob, it shows the fact the Judah was a leader. In the previous sermon of the tribe of Reuben, we learned that Reuben’s offer to become surety for Benjamin was refused, but Judah’s offer was accepted.
When Jacob’s sons were in great perplexity because the ruler of Egypt who was Joseph his son demanded Benjamin as hostage, it was Judah who pleaded their cause. And as a result of this, Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. We can read the story in Genesis 44:14-34; 45:1-3.
Therefore, by strict integrity and principle, Judah won the confidence of his father Jacob and his brethren. Jacob pronounced another blessing to Judah.
Genesis 49:8, “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise; thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; they father’s children shall bow down before thee.”
You may say, isn’t it that Joseph was the one whom the brethren bowed down? Yes, it’s true, but the circumstance is different. Joseph had wealth and position which he acquired from foreign land, but Judah won the respect of his brethren in everyday life. Joseph was in Egypt, a foreign land, while Judah was with his family and therefore he gained their confidence in everyday contact of the home life. But this confidence was not born in a moment. He cultivated strict integrity every day and that is how he won their respect, until of their own free will, and not by force of any circumstance, they praised him and bowed down before him. That is why Jacob said “Judah, thou art he whom they brethren shall praise.” This is the result of a life that is victorious over conflict and selfish tendencies of the carnal heart.
This is a lesson for us dear brethren. A noble character does not come in a wink of an eye but is cultivated and must be built each and every day. It will not come by a sudden onset of a good deed, but it is developed slowly every day by the way we do things, our attitude towards things, the way we handle trials, the way we deal with those who do not like us, those who come against us and such, and most importantly our relationship with God. This is how we come into the person that we are.
If Reuben failed, Judah prevailed under the same circumstance. Remember that the sin of Rueben that debarred him from his birthright was not a public sin, but it was a sin that was hidden from the eyes of the public. Reuben had no regard for the honor of his own family, but Judah regarded it and in the same home, with the same temptations and environment, Judah prevailed above his brethren. Therefore, he passed those temptations that Reuben failed to overcome.
This is why among the 144,000, 12,000 of which will bear the name of Judah. These are the faithful ones who, in times of perplexity, have been recognized by their brethren as trust leaders. Strict integrity under perplexity is what Judah is.
Genesis 49:9 says “Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou are gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?”
Now, what do these words mean? It means that it would be as easy to conquer a lion as to overcome a person who has the character of Judah, and that it would be as safe to rouse an old lion as to contend with a person who stood fast in his integrity with God. This character is worthy of example. God needs a people who are firm and will not surrender Christian integrity but will know a surety that the Lord will be with us when we are assailed by Satan and his evil angels. This is the same as the man who builds his house upon the rock. Matthew 7:24-25. No storm, no matter how strong it is, will be able to shake or destroy it but that it will stand strong and firm.
Another character of the tribe of Judah is their independence. This tribe decides for the right without waiting for the decision of others who failed to take their stand. We can this see in the history of the nation Israel. Remember how God selected David to replace Saul as king over Israel. When Saul died, the tribe of Judah did not wait for others to acknowledge David as king, but instead, they crowned him king over Judah, and David reigned over them for 7 and half years before he was crowned king over all Israel.
2 Samuel 2: 4, 11 “And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, [That] the men of Jabeshgilead [were they] that buried Saul… And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.”
David was from the tribe of Judah. And his tribe remained loyal to him even after the death of Solomon; they remained loyal to the seed of David.
It seems that the tribe of Judah furnished several well-known names noted in the sacred history. As we can see, there is no other tribe who furnished the world with so many mighty men of God. Aside from David who has been honored above all earthly kings as being taken as a type of Christ, we have Solomon who was very well known as a very wise man. And at the head of the list is the incomparable name, -- Christ of Nazareth, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Revelation 5:5
Another one that is known for being courageous is Caleb, one the 12 spies who were sent to Canaan. When the other 10 spies saw only giants and the difficulties in the way of entering the land, Caleb said
“We are well able to overcome it.” Numbers 15:30
Other names noted of their godly character and strict integrity were the 4 young men who risked their lives than defile themselves with the king’s meat. I’m talking about Daniel and his 3 friends who were taken captive in Babylon. And because of their faithfulness to God, they were thrown into the fiery furnace but were never hurt. The promised made hundred years ago was fulfilled.
Isaiah 42:3 “… when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
Daniel was very true to his integrity to his tribe and because of this, he was thrown into the lion’s den. He chose to face those hungry lions rather than permit any interruption in his communion with God.
Brethren, this is the true character that God is looking for in his people in these last days especially those who desire to be among the 144,000 who will go through the time of trouble, who will never taste death, who will serve as the first fruit offering to God the Father. Strict integrity amidst perplexity should be our motto. It is during the difficult times that we reveal our true character. Let us not be found compromising when our tests come. Be it in character in how we deal with others, financial matters, in food, in dress, in music, in any area that God will allow tests to come. Let us remember the tribe of Judah where the Chief Ruler, Christ came from.
Continue to strive and fight the good fight of faith. Never quit. We may have to go through the fiery furnace in order to prove our loyalty to God just like Daniel and his 3 friends had to go through. But remember, don’t think that if you stand for the truth God will forsake you. He will stand with us in our test. Christ has the power and grace. We have to take hold of it. He knows our human weaknesses. He knows how it is like to be tested.
Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.
Christ was tempted but never sinned. Temptation is not a sin. It is when you yield into temptation that you commit sin, even yielding it in our thoughts or desiring it in our thoughts. Nobody may see it that you desire to yield to sin, but the all-knowing God is able to detect our thoughts. Christ was tempted yet never sin. It means not even in thought he ever desired to sin. He is the Perfect Example. If He ever desired to commit sin, how could He be a perfect pattern? Of course, He won’t. Let us not bring Christ into our level but we have to reach His level of perfection, in the way He combat satan and sin.