16: Genesis 49:8


The Prophecies of the Messiah: Prophecy 16

The Messiah shall come from the tribe of Judah, which means Praise.

Old Testament Prediction:

Genesis 49:8 “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise…”

New Testament Fulfillment:

Revelation 5:5 “But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’ ”

Matthew 21:9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!”


Whenever we set out on any serious study of Bible prophecy, it is important to remember that within a single verse of scripture, there may be multiple predictions. Genesis Chapter 49 is one of these places.

In this 16th Old Testament Prophecy that Jesus fulfilled, we see that God intended that the Messiah would come from the line of Judah. The obvious choice would have been Reuben since he is the first born. Due to his sexual sin with his father’s wife, Reuben was disqualified.

In the Old Testament, the special privileges given to the firstborn could be forfeited by inappropriate action or carelessness. Esau counted his birthright as nothing when he sold it to his brother Jacob for a bowl of stew. He then lost all of the rights that he was entitled to, due to his callousness.

One of those rights was the double portion of his father’s inheritance while all of the other son’s received only a single portion (Deuteronomy 21:15-17). The firstborn also received the authority to rule over his younger brothers.

The sin of Reuben is described in Genesis 35:44:

Genesis 35:22-23 And it happened, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard about it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve: the sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn…

As Jacob is at the end of his life, he pronounces the fate of Reuben’s error: the loss of his rights as the firstborn.

Genesis 49:3-4 “Reuben, you are my firstborn, My might and the beginning of my strength, The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, you shall not excel, Because you went up to your father’s bed; Then you defiled it…”

There was a provision in the Old Testament for the rights of the firstborn to be transferred to a replacement who was not firstborn.

1 Chronicles 26:10 Also Hosah, of the children of Merari, had sons: Shimri the first (for though he was not the firstborn, his father made him the first)

Shimri was not the firstborn son, yet his father exercised his right to appoint him first. The primary purpose of a father choosing one son over another as first was so that this son would have the right to rule over all the other brothers. By Merari appointing his son Shimri as first, he established this principle in the Old Testament that a father may appoint a younger son as first over the remaining brothers.

When we arrive at the New Testament, we see that the rights of the firstborn carried with it the idea of one who has pre-eminence. The right to rule over all others is not by order of birth but by the father’s choice. Because Jesus was obedient to the point of death in offering His life for our sins, He was appointed as the firstborn, or first in rank, first in importance, over all other creation—by His Father. For this reason, Jesus has the right to rule over all of His brothers.

Colossians 1:15 Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

The Greek word used here in Colossians 1:15 for first born is prototokos, which means first in rank or importance. This does not mean that Jesus is a created being as the firstborn of an earthly father. Jesus has been appointed by the Father as the first in rank and importance over all of creation, as the ruler and king over all. This right was given to Him as a result of His obedience in laying down His life for all mankind.

Reuben lost this right as the firstborn because of sexual sin. Esau also lost his rights as the firstborn because he counted this blessing as nothing. In Hebrews Chapter 12, Paul reminds us that the rights of the firstborn are not to be taken lightly. They may not seem important at the beginning; but, when the finality of all things in this life is understood, these privileges will be of the utmost importance. Reuben did not consider the importance of his birthright; Esau counted his rights as firstborn as nothing. Both men lost—forever, the blessings that could have been theirs.

Hebrews 12:15-17 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

When Reuben forfeited his right as the firstborn, the double portion of the land went to Joseph, through his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh.

Genesis 48:21-22 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am dying, but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers. Moreover I have given to you one portion above your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.

All authority was given by Jacob/Israel to the tribe of Judah, from where we have the subject of this 16th prophecy, made by Jacob. Judah has the right of rulership because his father chose him. In the New Testament, the Bible speaks of those who have given their lives to Jesus Christ as also being chosen by Him to rule.

Ephesians 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will

Revelation 5:10 And (You) have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.

According to the prophecy, the coming Messiah will have the right of rulership over all the kingdoms of the world because Jacob changed the birthright of Reuben to Judah.

This right of the firstborn also carries an important application to all those who follow Jesus. In the kingdom age, when Jesus will rule as the Messiah for one thousand years, certain rights and privileges will be given to those who overcame the domination of sin in their earthly life. A second criteria will be whether we are watching and anticipating the return of Jesus at the Rapture. Those who expect Jesus to return at any moment will be living lives apart from sin—not without sin: living with a desire to be pure from sin. These individuals conducted their lives in this manner so that when their Lord arrived, He would find them living for Him. The privileges bestowed on those who choose to live apart from sin’s domination and are watching for Jesus’ return will be in the form of rulership over cities, nations, and kingdoms. Jesus will reward those who live for Him and watch for His appearing—immediately, after the Rapture occurs.

Rewards are possible after salvation has occurred

There are no rewards given for works done prior to salvation. No one can earn their eternal life; it is by Grace, through Faith—that we are saved. However, there are great rewards given to believers after they have experienced salvation in Jesus Christ, if they live for Him.

The Principle of Rewards is not taught today in most Christian churches even though it is widely taught in the Bible.

Colossians 3:23-24 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Some Christians will receive a double portion of rewards from the Lord for their faithful service to Him, while living in their bodies here on earth. These works are done for Jesus after the believer has been saved and before the Rapture occurs. Once the foundation for salvation in Jesus Christ has been laid, the believer has an opportunity to build on that foundation and earn rewards based on his motivation for performing these works.

1 Corinthians 3:9-15 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1. We are all fellow workers; each of us can receive rewards from Jesus.
2. The foundation for our salvation is Jesus Christ; there is no other.
3. We can build on this foundation to earn rewards, but we must be careful.
4. The building materials that we can use can be gold, silver, or precious stones—which are elements that cannot be destroyed by fire.
5. We can also use building materials such as wood, hay, or straw—which are elements that will be consumed when exposed to fire.
6. Our building materials will be tested by the fire of God’s judgment to see what kind they were. Those works done for Jesus will survive. Those works done for self will be consumed.
7. Whatever survives, we will receive a reward.

It is apparent that everything we do for Jesus’ glory and for Him alone are: gold, silver, and precious stones. When subjected to the fire of God’s judgment, they will not be consumed but will be found pure. For these enduring works, we shall receive a reward. Everything that we have done for Jesus but were actually done so as to be seen by others and receive their praise: are wood, hay, and straw. These works will be consumed by the fire of God’s judgment and have no reward.

Everything that we do for Jesus after we are saved carries the possibility of reward. Even something as simple as prayer, if it is done for the right reason, can earn us great reward from the Lord when He returns.

Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”

Notice that it is the motivation behind the prayer that determines whether or not Jesus will reward us. If we pray to experience fellowship and intimacy with the Lord and do it not to be seen, praised, or acclaimed by others, then our motivation is correct—we will receive a reward. If however, we do anything to receive praise or recognition from others, we have lost any reward the Lord might have given to us. The only reward we will have for these wrongly motivated works is the praise and honor of others. In Jesus’ example here, He is encouraging us to think about everything that we do, and consider that they can all earn us rewards if we perform them for the right reasons. Jesus earnestly desires that He might give us great rewards, as long as we do our works for Him so that He receives the glory and praise.

It is clear from the Bible, that when Jesus returns for His church at the Rapture and takes us back to heaven with Him, there will be a time of judgment for our works—done during our time here on earth. There will be no judgement for our sins since they have already been judged at the cross of Jesus Christ, and have been fully-paid.

The judgment seat that Paul spoke of, in 2 Corinthians 5:10; For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, is the Bema Seat. This was a judge’s stand that existed during the ancient olympic games, where the examiner observed the races that were held and gave rewards to those who finished the race first. It was not a place of punishment but a place for rewards.

At this judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10), each of us will have our works evaluated by the Lord—to see what our motivations were for all our actions, while living on the earth. The testing by fire is a judgment by Jesus—regarding our secret thoughts and motivations for why we did the things that we did. Every idle word that we speak and every secret thought of our heart will be examined.

Matthew 12:36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.

Those works which are good and pure and strictly for Jesus’ glory alone will be gold, silver, and precious stones. When these elements are subjected to fire, they are not destroyed.

The judgement that Jesus is speaking of here in Matthew 12:36 is the judgment of the believers’ works. These works have the possibility of rewards that will come in the form of crowns. These crowns will be the basis for rulership that Jesus will give to certain believers who earned this right while alive here on the earth, before His arrival at the Rapture.

In the Bible, we see five different Crowns that are described:

1. The Imperishable Crown: Given to those who overcome their old nature and tendency towards sin. They are not sinless but are not easily given to sin. They resist the acts of sin and when they do fail, they quickly confess these sins to the Lord and repent so as to continue in fellowship with Jesus.

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

2. The Crown Of Rejoicing: The soul winners’ crown—given to those who tell others about Jesus. The act of salvation, is the Lord’s business. The act of telling others about what Jesus has done, is our business.

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.

3. The Crown Of Life: Given to those who endure trials and continue to trust in the Lord.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…

Revelation 2:10 “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

4. The Crown Of Righteousness: Given to those who are looking for the Rapture and are living—lives as pure of sin as possible.

2 Timothy 4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

5. The Crown Of Glory: Given to the faithful Pastor/Teacher, or anyone who cares for and teaches others about Jesus.

1 Peter 5:2-4 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

The principle that is specified here in this prophecy of Jacob, by appointing Judah as the ruler over his brothers, is two-fold:

  1. The Messiah will rule over us all, as He comes from the tribe of Judah.
  2. Those who surrender their lives to Jesus Christ, on this side of the Rapture, will have co-rulership with the Lord during his reign for a thousand years. These individuals will receive a double portion for their obedience in living for the Lord before His return.

In these five verses of Genesis 49:8-12, there are seven references in Jacob’s description of Judah that point to Jesus:

Genesis 49:8 “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise

Judah’s name means Praise. Jesus’ name brought praise to the Father for His obedience in laying down His life for all of us.[1]

Genesis 49:8 Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies

Judah shall overcome his enemies, just as Jesus will finally put down every enemy.[2]

Genesis 49:8 Your father’s children shall bow down before you.

This will happen as a result of the Messiah—who comes from the tribe of Judah, as the King of Israel; someday, everyone will bow their knee to Jesus.[3]

Genesis 49:9 Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him?

Judah is the Lion, even as Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.[4]

Genesis 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.

The rulership for Israel is placed in the hands of the Messiah from Judah, as will all Rulership be given to Jesus as Lord of the Universe.[5]

Genesis 49:11 Binding his donkey to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine…

Upon Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He was arriving as a humble King, on the foal of a donkey, in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9.[6]

Genesis 49:11 He washed his garments in wine, And his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, And his teeth whiter than milk.

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus’ garments are describes as: splashed with the blood of those He has slain and trampled in the Valley of Armageddon.[7]

Both Mary’s Genealogy in Luke, as well as Joseph’s Genealogy in Matthew, show that Jesus came from the tribe of Judah.

According to the Gospel of Matthew—through Joseph’s genealogy, Jesus came from Abraham and David. The Messiah must come from the seed of Abraham and be from the house of David. This genealogy in Matthew, showing that Jesus came through Joseph’s line, proves that Jesus has the Legal right to the throne of David.

Mary’s genealogy in the Gospel of Luke, traces Jesus’ line all the way back to Adam—to prove that He was qualified to be the Second Adam and Savior of all men. Mary’s genealogy proves that Jesus has the Physical right to be the Messiah.

Although Joseph was not the physical father of Jesus, He did convey to Jesus the legal right to the throne as the Messiah—because Joseph, as his stepfather, was descended from David and Abraham.

If you carefully examine Joseph’s Genealogy, which is given by Matthew, you will see a man by the name of Jeconiah.

In the Book of Jeremiah 22:30, the Lord pronounces a “curse” upon the entire line of Jeconiah:

Jeremiah 22:30 Thus says the LORD: “Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.

In other words: No descendent of Jeconiah could be the Messiah.

This presents a huge problem for the Lord in that the Messiah must come from the line of David. Jeconiah is from the line of David down to Joseph, who is the stepfather of Jesus.

If Joseph had been the birth father of Jesus, then Jesus would have been disqualified from sitting on the throne of David, because He is descended from the line of Jeconiah, in whom, no one from his line could sit on the throne of David.

One can imagine the jubilation in satan’s camp when God pronounced this curse upon Jeconiah’s line. Satan must have thought that God had made a fatal error in cursing this line because it would mean that everyone from the line of Jeconiah was disqualified as the Messiah, including Jesus.

Except for this fact: David had two sons, Nathan and Solomon.

Joseph came from Solomon’s line, from where Jeconiah was cursed and no son could ever be the Messiah.

Mary came from Nathan’s line, from where Jesus was qualified to sit on David’s throne.

This is why the Holy Spirit presents to us two Genealogies in both Matthew and Luke, so that we can see that Jesus is qualified to be the Messiah—because He is from the Tribe of Judah, from where Genesis 49:10 states the ruler must come.

Jesus is also qualified to be the Messiah because He is descended from Adam, Abraham, and David.

For the sake of clarity, so that you have a visual reference of Jesus’ Genealogy, I included the complete lineage of Mary’s line from Luke’s genealogy as well as Joseph’s line from Matthew’s genealogy.

A few things to notice about these genealogies:

• The subject of this 16th Prophecy, describes the Messiah coming from the tribe of Judah. Notice number 25 in Mary’s genealogy.
• The Messiah will be a descendant of Abraham. Notice number 1 in Joseph’s genealogy and number 22 in Mary’s genealogy: Jesus is from Abraham’s line.
• The Messiah is able to save all men because He is descended from Adam. Mary’s genealogy goes all the way back to Adam. (See number 75 in the chart below: Mary’s father Heli) Mary’s name being included in this genealogy, is unusual—as women at this time were not included in genealogies; only the male of each family from which property rights were passed to the next generation, were a part of the majority of genealogies.
• The Messiah, Jesus, is qualified to sit on the throne of His father David because number 14 in Joseph’s genealogy shows Jesus is His descendant; number 35 in Mary’s genealogy reveals that Jesus is in David’s house and lineage.
• Joseph is Jesus’ stepfather. This is important because in Joseph’s line of descendants number 28 is Jeconiah. No descendant of Jeconiah could sit on the throne of David and be the Messiah. Jesus received the physical right to sit on David’s throne from His mother, as seen through Mary’s genealogy.
• Mary’s genealogy of Jesus shows a very interesting person if we are watching for Jesus’ return in the Rapture. Notice Enoch, number 8, who walked in fellowship with God, and so God took him.
• Number 9 in Mary’s genealogy shows Methuselah who was the last person before the great flood arrived, when everyone except Noah and his family died. This judgment was preceded by the Rapture of Enoch—just prior to the judgment of the flood. This illustrates for us how the church of Jesus Christ will be Raptured, just before the seven-year Tribulation-judgement, begins.


Matthew 1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

Jesus geneaology Matthew[9]

Abraham is the father of Isaac, and Isaac brought forth Jacob who is the father of the twelve tribes. One of the twelve was Judah who brought forth the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Messiah is referred to as The Son of David because David is the fourteenth that was descended from Abraham. Forty-two descendants later, Jesus is born to Mary, a direct descendant of King David.

Jesus is qualified to be the Messiah because His genealogy proves that He is The Son of David and the Son of Abraham.

Jesus told the Jews that because they had missed the time of their visitation by the Messiah, their house would be left to them desolate.

In 70 A.D., Titus destroyed Jerusalem and burned all the genealogical records. From 70 A.D., to the present day, no one could prove that they were descended from Abraham and David and therefore qualified to be the Messiah. The reason that God allowed all these records to be destroyed is because the Messiah had already come—no further applicants need apply.

 Jesus fulfilled this 16th prophecy as He is a descendant of Judah.

You might also be interested in an additional article entitled: “Service Now, Rewards and Rulership: When Jesus Returns,” which gives greater details of the five crowns available to every believer in Jesus.

This information is from the 3,000 page treatise: “The Prophecies of the Messiah,” now available at Amazon.com for $8.99

[1] John 17:4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
[2] Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
[3] Philippians 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth…
[4] Revelation 5:5 But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
[5] John 18:37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.
[6] Matthew 21:4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet (Zechariah), saying: 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. 8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!”
[7] Revelation 19:15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Isaiah 63:3 “I have trodden the winepress alone, And from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, And trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, And I have stained all My robes.
[8] Illustration by Rob Robinson
[9] Illustration by Rob Robinson

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