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Out of Judah

From Judah will come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler. Zechariah 10.4.

The short book of Zechariah, written just after the end of the Exile in about 520 BC, contains more prophecies about the Messiah than any other book in the Old Testament. Some are very obvious — the betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, for example (Zechariah 11.12) — but others, like the ones in this morning’s text, are more subtle.

First, from Judah – the tribe to which Jesus belonged (Matthew 1.1-16) – would come a cornerstone, that is to say, the first stone to be laid in a building’s foundations and the one by reference to which all the other stones in the building will be laid. And Jesus is that cornerstone. Paul tells the Christians at Ephesus: you are now part of something that has “Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” and in whom “the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2.20-21) … and so am I.

Second, from Judah would come “the tent peg” … literally, “that which fixes and secures” (yâthêd). Jesus is that one who fixes and secures. He comes as one who fixes and secures me in the Father’s love. He says of his sheep: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10.28-29). He is the anchor for my soul, “firm and secure” (Hebrews 6.19). Because of Jesus, I belong to a kingdom that “cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12.28). He pins down the tent in which I dwell so that nothing can uproot it and so that I can dwell in it in peace and safety for evermore.

Then, out of Judah, comes the battle-bow. Jesus is the battle-bow. He comes as the one who faces all the forces of darkness and prevails. “Have you come to destroy us?” asks the demon in Mark 1.24, and he knows the answer. And to me Jesus gives the power to be an overcomer too. He is the battle-bow within me. “I have given you authority,” he says, “to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10.19).

Finally, from Judah comes “every ruler” or, better, “all rule”. Zechariah looks to the one who will be “king of kings and lord of lords” (Revelation 19.16) and at whose name, the name of Jesus, “every knee shall bow” (Philippians 2.10). And that, of course, includes mine.

Lord Jesus, my cornerstone, my tent-peg, my battle-bow and my ruler of all, I bow before you and worship you alone. Amen.

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