Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

(A sermon adapted from the sermons of Charles Spurgeon)

 “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise.”-Genesis 49:8.

THESE words were spoken by the patriarch Jacob when he blessed his sons as he was dying; but before he finished Judah’s blessing, he seemed to forget his son, and to turn his thoughts to Jesus. Jacob compared Judah to a lion and a lion’s cub, and in the book of Revelation we read that one of the elders said to John, “The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David; hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”

In the tenth verse of this chapter we have Jacob’s remarkable prophecy concerning the coming of Christ, “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.” Jacob said to Judah, “Thou art he who thy brethren shall praise.” Judah was greatest among Jacob’s sons in several things for which he deserved to be praised; the first was the persuasiveness of his intercession. Judah seems to have been the gifted one out of the twelve sons of Jacob, and his pleading succeeded with his father when all others were powerless.

When Joseph, whom his brothers failed to recognize although he recognized them, said to them, “Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you,” they went back home with heavy hearts, and their father firmly refused to allow Benjamin to go down into Egypt. But when all their corn was eaten up and they needed to go and buy more, it was Judah who persuaded Jacob to let Benjamin go with them.

Reuben and Levi were silent during this critical period, because they had lost their rightful position in the family after murdering some local men, and Simeon was a hostage in the hands of Joseph; but Judah was able to step into the breach, and his reasoning prevailed with old Jacob.

Friends, we are by nature like those sinful sons of Jacob, because we have offended our Father who is in heaven and it would come to nothing if we attempted to approach him as sinners without an intercessor.
But our Judah is Jesus, and He is seated at his Father’s right hand; and whatever our desire or our request may be, provided it is a right one, it is sure to be granted when Jesus pleads for us before the throne.
“If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

Use your Mind’s eye to look upward, and see our great High Priest appearing there in the presence of God for us; and as he points to the print of the nails in his hands and feet, and to the scar of the soldier’s spear in his side, and pleads our cause, we can be certain that his plea must prevail with his Father. "Therefore, Jesus is also able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, since he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” If Judah was praised because his intercession prevailed with Jacob, How much more should Jesus be praised because his intercession prevails with Jehovah.

Have you any burden on your mind at this moment? Is there anything that distresses you? Have you been praying about something without getting any answers to your prayers? Then put your case into the hands of Christ. He has never lost a case, and that is more than the best of earthly lawyers can say about the cases entrusted to them.

That was a wonderful scene when Joseph said that Benjamin could not go back with his brothers, but must remain in Egypt as his servant because the silver cup had been found in his sack, and Judah pleaded with Joseph, not knowing that “the lord of the land” was his own brother. You may remember how he pictured their old father at home, who would certainly die of a broken heart if Benjamin did not return to him safely, and how, at last, he offered to take Benjamin’s place if he would let Benjamin go free. Judah’s plea was so effective that Joseph could no longer hold back the tears, and finally he told them he was their long-lost brother. So, dear friends, if the great Lord of heaven and earth seems angry with you because of your sins, and he is angry with the wicked every day, put your case into the hands of the sinners’ Advocate, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and when he stands up to plead with his Father for you, he will soon bring a smile of forgiveness upon the righteously severe countenance of his Father, and you shall gladly say, “Jesus, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise because of thine almighty power in pleading for them.”

We find that, at a later period, the tribe of Judah was foremost in wisdom and skill. If you turn to Exodus 35:30, you will see that, when the tabernacle was to be erected in the wilderness, “Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; and to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work.” And, surely, I may metaphorically apply this description to our Judah-Jesus. What wisdom there is in him, and what skill! What is there that he cannot do?

Bezaleel could cut, and polish, and set precious stones; but Jesus can take the worthless pebbles of the brook, and transmute them into diamonds. Jesus takes “base things of the world, and things which are despised,” and works such marvelous changes in them that the Lord of hosts says concerning them, “They all be mine in that day when I make up my jewels.” He is a wonderful lapidary (those who cut and polish valuable stones); some of us have been upon the wheel under his hand for a long time, and we are apt to think that he has cruelly cut us but the cutting is intended to bring out our brilliance, and to make us fit to shine in the diadem of the King in due time. Bezaleel was also a worker in wood, and our great Judah-Jesus came to us when we were growing wild in the forest of sin, it was his axe of conviction that cut us down, and it has been his hand of skill that has been fashioning and carving us to make us worthy to be pillars in his temple. What is there that Jesus cannot do?

Has he not wrought out for us a work which required far more skill than the erecting of the tabernacle in the  wilderness, and the making of the ark of the covenant, the veil which hung before the most holy place, the high priest’s garments of glory and beauty, and all the cunning work devised by Bezaleel and his helpers?
Did he not spend his whole life in working out for us a matchless robe of righteousness in which we may even dare to stand before the all-seeing eye of God?

Angels will keep on wondering throughout eternity at the wisdom of their Lord and ours. The wisdom of his teaching is divine. “Never man spake like this man.” The wisdom with which he deals with each individual case that is brought to him is matchless. He is the great Physician, and there is no, earthly doctor who has such skill as he has. Let Bezaleel, of the tribe of Judah, have all due praise, but let Jesus, the Son of God, have far more. All wisdom is to be found in him; his very name is “Wisdom.” Solomon calls him by that name. The wisest of men was not at all wise in comparison with incarnate wisdom, the wisdom of God as manifested in Jesus Christ. Jesus, we bless thee, thou who hast worked out a perfect righteousness for us, thou who makest us into living stones, and then buildest, us stone by stone, into the marvelous edifice of thy Church; Jesus, then art he whom thy brethren shall praise for thy wondrous wisdom and skill.

Further, the tribe of Judah had preference in presenting offerings unto the Lord. In Numbers 7:12, we read, “He that offered his offering the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah.” The Lord had said to Moses, “They shall offer their offering, each prince on his day, for the dedicating of the altar,” and the prince of the tribe of Judah therefore led the way by bringing his offering on the first day.

We know that our Lord sprang out of Judah, so he was first with his offering. “No,” says someone, “Abel was first with his offering.” Yes, apparently he was in the order of time, but Christ’s offering was much more ancient than his, for he was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” In the divine purpose, his sacrifice was offered long before the great tragedy on Calvary, and the merit of his atonement was reckoned to his people’s account long before man was created, but certainly in order of precedence Christ’s offering comes first. Christ brought for his offering his own most precious body and blood, and we by faith present the same offering when we come to God in the name of Jesus. What sacrifice could we bring if Judah’s Prince had not first brought his one offering by which he hath performed forever for them that are sanctified?

Did I say just now that Christ’s offering had precedence ? I must correct myself, for it is first, it is last, it is midst, it is the only sacrifice that can put away sin, and make us acceptable unto God; and there is no sacrifice either of prayer or of praise that we can present to God unless we bring it by virtue of Christ’s own great sacrifice. Let us, therefore, praise our Judah-Jesus; let us give him our loudest hallelujahs, for he comes first to the altar, and we afterwards approach it through him. Jesus, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise for thy wondrous atoning sacrifice.

Again, I would point out that Judah was chosen by God to always lead when the tribes were on the march through the wilderness. In Numbers 10:14, we read that, when the fiery-cloudy pillar moved, “in the first place went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah according to their armies.” First in the
encampment, first on the march, first everywhere was Judah’s lion. The tribe of Dan brought up the rear, but the tribe of Judah always went in front; and here again let Jesus Christ be praised, for he always leads the
way. If I descend into the Valley of Humiliation, I shall see his foot-prints all down the slippery steeps. If I pass through the Enchanted Ground where so many fall asleep, I shall see the track of the wakeful One all along that dangerous way. If up the Hill Difficulty I have to scramble on my hands and knees, I shall see the marks of the blood drops where his hands were torn by the thorns and his feet were cut by the flints as he climbed there too. And when I go down to the river, I shall still see his footprints; and up the other side I shall see the track of my risen Lord. All up the eternal hills I shall but follow where he leads the way; yes, and up to the very throne of God he has gone before us, clearing a way for his people, and leading them along it.

Yet once more, Judah afterwards attained to the sovereignty; for David, of the tribe of Judah, was in due time proclaimed king over all Israel. We also have a King of the line of Judah, one who is mightier than David, and
wiser than Solomon, and happy are we in having such a King to reign over us. Who amongst us that loves Christ would not set him up upon a high throne? Oh, that we could continually exalt him yet more and more ! Let your sweetest songs be all in his praise; let your most daring deeds be done for him. Give him, ye gracious women, your alabaster boxes full of precious ointment. Prepare, your feasts, ye wealthy men, and invite him, to preside at the table!. Come, ye children, and strew branches in the way while he rides along triumphantly. Let “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!” be the joyful strain which comes from every lip and heart because Jesus reigns over us, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Do praise him, do extol him this very moment, lift up your hearts and your voices while we sing this familiar strain, —

“Jesus is worthy to receive
Honor and power divine;
And blessings more than we can give
Be, Lord, for ever thine.”

II. The second part of our subject was to be THE GLORIES OF JUDAH AS SETTING FORTH THE GLORIES OF JESUS. They are illustrated in the sentence concerning Judah that follow our text. The first of them, mentions the victories of Judah: “thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies.” You know what it means when a man seizes his enemy by the throat, or when a lion gets its prey by the neck, and shakes the very life out of it. Thus has Jesus Christ done with all the enemies of his people.

Shall I tell you again the grand old story? ‘Twas one dark night when the great Shepherd was watching his flock that he heard the roaring which told him that the old lion of the pit was about to leap into the fold to
rend the sheep in pieces. Then the Shepherd whispered to himself, “This is the dreadful hour, and the power of darkness.” Taking his place in the midst of his blood-bought flock, he waited for the next terrific roar, and as the lion sprang into the fold, he received him upon his bare bosom, and began at once to grapple with him. He was wounded in his hands, in his feet, and in his side, and in the desperate struggle “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” It was a dreadful fight, which had been foreseen before the world was made, and which shall be the theme of grateful song when the world has ceased to be. But in the end the Shepherd rent the lion as though it had been a kid, and crying, “It is finished,” he himself fell prostrate over his foe, slain, but dying only be rise again, and live in everlasting triumph. In that dread combat, his hand was indeed in the neck of his enemy; and now he has to glory gone, leading
captivity captive, you who have been delivered by him from the old lion of the pit may well exclaim, “Jesus, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise.”

The next thing for which Judah was to be praised was Jacob’s prophecy, “Thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.“ Now, who in this house is a child of God? You will not be long in answering that question
when I put to you another, “Do you bow down before the Lord Jesus Christ?” Here we are, a vast multitude assembled in this Tabernacle, but we are not all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. We cannot all
truly say, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Our text gives us the means of knowing who are the children of God, for the great Father says to his Son, “Thy Father’s children shall bow down before thee.” Do you bow down before the Lord Jesus Christ? Is he your only trust? Do you rest your whole weight upon him? Do you depend for time and eternity upon Judah-Jesus whom God has anointed and appointed to be the only Saviour of sinners? If so, you have proved your sonship by bowing down before yourgreat elder Brother.

The third glory of Judah was his lion-like power. Jacob said, “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?” This
seems to be a picture, first of Judah, and then of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a young lion, he has gone up, and rent his prey in pieces. Sin, death, and hell he has torn asunder; and now that he is like a mighty, full-grown lion, woe be unto those who provoke him to anger, but blessed are they who have him on their side. Many of you have seen that beautiful engraving of Una the type of innocence, riding upon a lion’s back, that lion, according to Spenser, protecting her from all ill. That is how every penitent soul rides, by the grace of God; the Lion of the tribe of Judah is the Guardian of every believing head. You have but to trust yourself to Jesus, and he will see to it that you are never destroyed. He will preserve and deliver you from all evil of every kind, and at last shall safely bring you where you shall see his face, and rejoice in him, for ever and ever. But woe to any of you who reject him! Woe to you who deny his Deity! Woe to you who break his Sabbaths, abhor his Word, and despise his cross! In that last tremendous day, his anger against the wicked shall be so terrible that they shall say to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand ?” Oh, bow before him, accept his grace, trust in his atoning sacrifice; and then, the
very power which should make you tremble now will be exerted on your behalf, and cause you to rejoice for ever.

Further, Jesus is to be extolled for his perpetual sovereignty. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come.” Judah’s sovereignty came to an end, but Jesus always reigns. His kingdom here on earth has often seemed as if it were in jeopardy, but it has never been overthrown, and it never will be. In the martyr days, they sewed the Christians up in the skins of wild beasts, and cast them to the dogs; they dragged them at the heels of horses; they burned them at the stake; they stripped off their clothes, and tortured then with hot irons on every part of their body; I dare not mention all the cruelties that were practiced on the followers of Jesus, but nothing availed to shake their allegiance to their king. In all these trials they were more than conquerors through him who loved them, and who gave them the grace to endure all these things for his sake. Neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword could separate them from the love of Christ, and thus his kingdom was perpetuated during even the darkest ages of its history, which in another sense were also the brightest because of the glory that the faithfulness of his followers brought to their King. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.”

Now we get clear of Judah, and come to Shiloh, of whom Jacob says, “unto him shall the gathering of the people be."  Ah, beloved, there are no gatherings of the people anywhere else like those who come to Christ. It is no small thing that, all these years, the multitudes have gathered in this house, Sabbath by Sabbath, and why do they come? I confidently affirm that the only reason why such crowds gather here is because the preacher’s theme is Christ. Feebly as he sometime preaches, his unvarying theme is the cross, the precious blood, the all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ offered once for all on Calvary. This is a theme which never palls upon the ear, this is a subject which never grows stale. “We preach Christ crucified,” for this is the magnet that draws the people unto him. Jesus himself said, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” The crowds that come here are nothing in comparison with the multitudes that have been and are still being drawn to Christ by the magnet of his death. I see his cross standing on yonder hill, and I see the people gathering to it from every quarter. There was a little stream at first, but it grew, and none of us can tell how many have already been drawn unto Christ, and still they come! While I have been speaking to you, they have kept on coming to him, and so they shall until “he shall have dominion also from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” “Yea all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.” “To him shall the gathering of the people be.” They may seem to us to be long in coming, but they must come. The vision may tarry, but it is sure; and at the appointed time there shall be heard a great shout from the dwellers on the land, and from those far off upon the sea and from the glorified in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever.”

At the last good old Jacob seems to have had his eyes opened, and to have seen a very singular vision of Judah’s King: “Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine.” Yes, ‘tis he, the very same of whom the prophet wrote, “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” This is Judah-Jesus; he is a King, but he goes not down to Egypt for horses; he is meek and lowly, so he is content to ride upon the humble ass in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The mention of “the vine” and “the choice vine” naturally turns our thoughts to his most instructive parable of the Vine and the branches; and as the ass’s colt was bound to the vine, so is the Church of God bound
to him, who said, “I am the true Vine, and my Father is the Husbandman.”

Jacob’s next words are also very suggestive: “He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.” You know the meaning of the allegory. Jesus went to Gethsemane, and there “the blood of grapes “
upon the true Vine—I mean, the bloody sweat that exuded from every pore of his sacred body, — was so copious as to make his garments appear as though they had been washed in wine. They took him to Gabbatha, and there they scourged him so cruelly that again his clothes looked as if they had been washed in the blood of grape; and so he passed on through the streets of Jerusalem until he came to Golgotha. Can you bear to see him taking his last blood-bath on Calvary? “His dying crimson, like a robe, Spreads o’er his body on the tree.”

After that terrible blood-bath, how does he look ? What aspect does he bear? Jacob said, “His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.” His eyes were red with wine, but again it was the red wine of his own most precious blood flowing down from his thorn-crowned brow; and the white teeth seem to suggest the spotless purity of the Son of God even when he, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Oh, we must praise our blessed Judah-Jesus, for he was still fairest of the fair even when his face was marred more than the face of any man ! Let us humbly bow before him, let us gratefully adore him as we remember that, “being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

But that was not the and of him; for he was buried, but the third day he rose again; and, after tarrying a while with his disciples, he ascended to his Father and our Father, to his God and ours; and he is coming back again, one of these days, “to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe” in him.

Long ago, Isaiah asked, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength ?” And the answer came at once, “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Then the prophet asked, “Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?” And he answered, “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.” To all who trust him, our great Judah-Jesus is still “mighty to save.” All blood-bedewed from Calvary, he cries, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” To every sincere penitent, he still speaks in righteousness, and says, “I washed my garments in wine, and my clothes in the blood of grapes when I trod the winepress of Jehovah’s wrath for your sake; when there was none to help, mine own arm brought salvation unto me, but it was for you that I suffered.” Oh, believe him, sinner! Trust him, and so become a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and then go forth to serve him and to praise him all your days, and to glorify him for ever. Let
us all go our way still singing the praises of our blessed Lord and Master.

“Let him be crown’d with majesty
Who bow’d his head to death;
And be his honors sounded high
By all things that have breath.
“Jesus, our Lord, how wondrous great
Is thine exalted name!
The glories of thy heav’nly state
Let the whole earth proclaim.”

Do you have any questions or comments?

 It is not surprising that 55 percent of Americans believe “a good person can earn his way to heaven,” but an alarmingly high percentage of professing Christians believe the same thing. Recent studies by George Barna show 40 percent of those in America who say they have committed their life to Jesus Christ agree with the statement, “If you are a good person or do enough good things for others, you can earn a place in heaven.” Such thinking runs contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture (Ephesians 2:8–9), dilutes evangelistic fervor, and gives scores of people fictitious hope.

Moody, March/April 1998, p. 46; Baptist Standard, March 12, 1997, p. 8

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