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The modern cultural celebrations of Christmas can easily dull our senses. Our spiritual senses can be dulled to the biblical record of intense longing on the part of God's people for the advent of the promised Messiah-King. For thousands of years, the faithful waited and waited for the fulfillment of the promise and had to be consoled with the knowledge that God is faithful and would bring about the advent of the Savior. "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." (Heb. 11:13) That longing anticipation is seen in the effectual blessings which our spiritual father Jacob pronounced on his sons and upon Judah in particular.
First, Jacob prophesies that the son of Judah would be victorious over his enemies. Jacob bypasses the older sons and gives to Judah the place of preeminence. At the time of the blessing, there was no kingdom of Israel. So the promise is also an expression of great hope and confidence that the Lord would bless Jacob's family. In the history of the nation of Israel, the tribe of Judah was often at the forefront of the defense of the nation. But it is also true that some of Judah's most bitter enemies were the other tribes of Israel. This was ultimately fulfilled in the Great Son of Judah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Savior was rejected of men and despised especially by those of Israel. All the promises made through your father Jacob are fulfilled in the coming of Christ as a baby in Bethlehem, and even though He was despised and rejected of men and put to death, the Savior, the couching lion, will be roused to victoriously defend his realm - he will be king indeed.
Second, Jacob prophesies that the tribe of Judah would be the royal tribe - until Shiloh comes. That is, Judah would be the royal tribe for a limited time. So the question is, who or what is Shiloh? Shiloh is the one who, when Judah's reign and preeminence comes to an end, replaces that rule with His own rule. And the rule of that one will be a reign of peace and tranquility. Or as the prophet Isaiah says, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) What a glorious thing this is! The dying patriarch expresses a deep hope for the future and the confidence that the longing for the promised Messiah-King will be realized.
Third, Jacob prophesies that the son of Judah will prosper. The prosperity will not be an ordinary prosperity, but an extraordinary prosperity. This is shown in the illustrations of agricultural super-abundance. Tying donkeys to choice vines and washing clothes in wine is Jacob's way of expressing the kind of abundance that could only happen when the promise of Isaiah is fulfilled: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price...Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." (55:1, 3)
So with the eyes of faith, see the glorious prosperity and reign of your Savior-King in the past, in the future and right now at this very moment. His advent was the fulfillment of the longing of God's people and He provides everything you need - especially for your redemption from sin.