The Law of the Scepter
Issue No. 299
Kingdom authority began in Genesis 1:26 when God told man to rule the earth that God had created. That mandate, along with the fruitfulness mandate in verse 28, were the two elements of the Birthright that were passed down from generation to generation until it rested upon Jesus Christ.
Only one man received the Birthright at a time, each in his generation. For this reason, Ishmael contended with Isaac for the Birthright, and in the next generation Esau contended with Jacob. They could not both be inheritors.
When Jacob was near death, he blessed each of his sons, but split the Birthright among three sons. To Levi went the priesthood, to Judah went the scepter, and to Joseph went the Fruitfulness Mandate, which is the authority to bring forth the sons of God. This latter portion, given to Joseph, was thereafter called the Birthright.
1 Chron. 5:1, 2 speaks of Judah and Joseph and the distinction between the scepter and the Birthright. Levi’s calling is given in Deut. 33:8-11 and in other places.
This divine order remained in place until the coming of Christ, who replaced Levi as High Priest of a new order known as the Melchizedek Order. This Order did not require Him to be a descendant of Aaron, for it was not based upon genealogy (Heb. 7:3). Hence, Jesus, who came of Judah was not eligible to be a Levitical priest, but He was qualified under this new Order. This change is discussed in Heb. 7:12-17.
Jesus came of the tribe of Judah and specifically of the lineage of King David, qualifying Him as the King of Israel. Yet going back further, beyond David, beyond Judah, all the way back to Adam, we see that there was an unbroken line of men who held the scepter. And so, the highest authority over the earth, which was first given to Adam, was passed down until it rested upon Jesus Christ.
This was, indeed, a matter of genealogy, for although there were many prophets and righteous men of God throughout history, there was only one per generation that was called of God to be the King of the earth. Of course, because of many usurpers, the rightful kings seldom had a kingdom to rule, and no one actually fulfilled their calling as king of the whole earth.
Finally, the Fruitfulness Mandate, which was retained in the Birthright after Jacob distributed its provisions among those three sons, rested upon Joseph (1 Chron. 5:2). Jacob called Joseph “a fruitful bough” in Gen. 49:22. The Hebrew word for “bough” is ben, which means a SON in the sense of being a branch from the family tree. We see in this the responsibility of Sonship given to him.
The Birthright calling of Joseph did not fully alight upon Jesus in His first appearance, because at that time He came primarily to fulfill the promise to Judah. His second coming, however, shows that He appears as Joseph in that “He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood” (Rev. 19:13). He is thus identified as Joseph, for we read of him in Gen. 37:31,
31 So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat, and dipped the tunic in the blood.
One reason for the two comings of Christ is that in His first coming He came only as the inheritor of the high priesthood and of the scepter of Judah. The second coming reunites Joseph’s Birthright with the other parts in a reversal of what Jacob did in Genesis 49.
The Grand Shift
The scepter was given to Judah only temporarily in the blessing of Jacob. Jacob makes it clear that in the reunification of these blessings under one Head, the scepter would be given to “Shiloh,” which is a prophetic title of the Messiah. Jacob said in Gen. 49:10,
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him [“Shiloh”] shall be the obedience [or “submission”] of the peoples.
In other words, Judah received the scepter temporarily until “Shiloh” came, at which time the people would come under submission to Him. A study of Scripture shows that Shiloh was a code name for Joseph. Even the town of Shiloh, where the Ark was first set up in Canaan, was situated within the territory of Ephraim, son of Joseph.
And so we see that Jesus’ right to rule came first through His descent from Judah and David; but in the end, when all the parts are reunited, His divine right to rule the earth comes through Joseph. In other words, the basis of His right to rule shifts from His genealogical descent from David to His right to rule as a spiritual son of Joseph.
In that sense, we see a similarity between the scepter and the priesthood, for each started out as genealogical but ended with something else. The genealogical requirement was temporary; the spiritual requirement was permanent.
The Tribal Leaders
When Moses dedicated the tabernacle, it took twelve days to complete the ceremony. Each tribal leader made his sacrifice and offering on a consecutive day, for we read in Numbers 7:11,
11 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Let them present their offering, one leader each day, for the dedication of the altar.
This ceremony gives us a glimpse of tribal structure insofar as authority is concerned. When the land of Canaan was divided among the tribes, territory was given to each tribe and subdivided among the families of each tribe. Obviously, the tribal leaders were direct descendants of the original sons of Jacob. In each case the authority over the tribe had been passed down from generation to generation.
There was only one tribal leader in each generation. It is likely that each tribal leader grew up with brothers and sisters, but the tribal birthright was given to only one son in each generation. The other siblings had no authority above the rest of the citizenry.
The Community of Israel
We have already seen how most of the Israelite population coming out of Egypt was from the large household of Abraham—people who were part of the community prior to the birth of Isaac. We may conjecture that such a broad community had existed since the time of Adam, and that other communities and nations had sprung up later as men left the original community. In time, they came to despise and then forget the authority of the Birthright that God had established.
Yet the original community (church) continued to function as a unit. When Abraham left Ur and Haran, Gen. 12:5 says he took with him “the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan.” In Gen. 14:14 we find Abraham fielding 318 men of war to fight against the kings of Shinar.
None of these men were heirs of the Birthright, but yet they all benefited from it while they were in fellowship with the Birthright holder. The Birthright passed from Abraham to Isaac and to Jacob, while the population of the community itself increased over the centuries.
By the time they came out of Egypt, the distinctions between genealogical descendants of Jacob and the rest of the community had disappeared. All had been fully integrated into the tribes, except for the new “mixed multitude,” mostly Egyptians, who were yet to be fully integrated among the tribes (Exodus 12:38).
The point is that whether one was a genealogical Israelite or an alien, none of them were rulers in the Kingdom except for the tribal leaders. No one else was called to rule. Further, Jacob had prophesied that Israel would eventually have a king and that this king would come from the tribe of Judah. Thus Judah was given the scepter.
When David was born, he was specifically chosen to rule the nation. David had seven brothers, but none of them received the scepter, though they were all of Judah. In spite of their descent from Judah, they could not claim to have the right to rule.
In fact, once David was anointed by Samuel, no other Judahite could hope to receive the scepter. The matter was settled that all others had been bypassed.
The same occurred when Jesus was finally born and when He was witnessed by John the Baptist. When the Holy Spirit came upon Him in the form of a dove, the matter was established by law that all other potential men of Judah had been bypassed for the scepter and would not have the divine right to rule. They all had to settle for citizenship in Israel, just like everyone else.
Ruling as Sons of God
We are told in the genealogical listing in Luke 3:38 that Adam was “the son of God.” His calling was to rule the earth and to “subdue” it (Gen. 1:28). He failed through sin, of course, and so another had to come to do what Adam failed to do. In my view, Jesus Christ will succeed in putting all things under His feet, thereby subduing the earth according to the original plan.
Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 15:45-50 that the first man, Adam, was a living soul, while the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. The first was from the earth, and hence, his name, Adam, means “earthy.” Paul then speaks of his descendants in verses 48 and 49, saying,
48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
In other words, our natural birth made us in the earthy image of the first Adam. Our spiritual birth makes us in the heavenly image of the last Adam, Jesus Christ.
50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
Paul tells us that one’s descent from the earthy Adam cannot qualify anyone to inherit the kingdom of God. Adam was sentenced to death, along with all of His descendants who are mortal, or “perishable.” Only those descended from the last Adam inherit immortality, and these are the only ones qualified to rule with Christ in the Kingdom of God.
How we do this is a major topic of the Bible, the New Testament in particular, although the Scriptures teach this from the beginning. Moses lays down many laws or rules by which lawful Sonship may be attained.
As I wrote earlier, Sonship is found in the Fruitfulness Mandate of Gen. 1:28, carried by the Birthright to Joseph, the fruitful son. The second coming of Christ is pictured as a manifestation of Joseph, with his robe dipped in blood. But this manifestation of Christ is not genealogical, for we have no biblical evidence that Jesus would be born of Joseph’s lineage. His first appearance was genealogical, being David’s son, but His second appearance is a spiritual manifestation of Joseph.
So also is it with those who will rule and reign with Christ in the house of Joseph. Just as Jesus Christ comes as a spiritual son of Joseph, so also are those who rule and reign with Him in the Age to come. Physical descendants of Judah (or any other tribe of Israel) are not qualified by their genealogy, for the best they can do is to trace their ancestry back to the dead man walking, Adam.
The Sons of God in Hosea
Hosea’s prophecy focuses upon the house of Israel that was divorced from God and cast out of His house on account of their harlotry. Then Hosea 1:10 prophesies,
10 Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and it will come about that, in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.”
Hosea tells us that God will regather the sons of Israel as “sons of the living God.” Does this mean that only genealogical Israelites can be sons of God? Not at all. God was saying that the promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would not be lost, even though Israel had been cast out of the land.
Israel (and many others) were to be regathered to God under a New Covenant. Hosea says in verse 11 that Israel and Judah would “appoint themselves one leader” in order to accomplish this. That “leader” is the Mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ.
The manner of regathering is by rallying around Him and supporting His claim as Messiah-King. In other words, people were to believe in Him. This began to be fulfilled in His first coming, as some Judahites came to believe in His anointing as Messiah. The gospel then spread to other parts of the earth, and as many ex-Israelites of the dispersion came to believe in Him, they too were regathered to Him.
Hosea’s prophecy speaks only of Judah and Israel, but this was not meant to exclude anyone else who might be regathered with them. We cannot ignore Isaiah 56:8, which assures foreigners of their right to be gathered with the ethnic Israelites and Judahites.
Therefore, Hosea’s prophecy was not meant to exclude anyone, but to tell us that Israel and Judah would inherit the Abrahamic promises through Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant. How would this come about? By faith in Jesus Christ. It is true that the covenants come through one man, Abraham, on account of his faith. But the blessing of Abraham was meant to include all nations and “all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12:3).
So also we read in Romans 11:26, “all Israel will be saved.” Does this mean that one must be an ethnic Israelite in order to be saved? Not at all. Paul did NOT say that non-Israelites will NOT be saved. In fact, much of his ministry was devoted to teaching the idea of equality in the Kingdom. He believed that non-Israelites should enjoy equal rights as citizens of Israel.
When God stripped Israel of its name and cast them out of His house, those people became ex-Israelites. They ceased to have the right to be called Israelites. Their genealogical descent from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was unable to save them from the judgment of the law, just as Adam’s status as “son of God” could save him from the death penalty for sin. For this reason, they were put on the same footing as the rest of the nations, and in order to come back into covenant with God, everyone had to do it in the same way—through Jesus.
There are no double standards, nor is there one covenant for Jews and another for non-Jews, as some have taught. There is only one door for all ethnicities. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father but by Me.” When we stand before God, no one can claim ethnicity as the basis of their salvation. All nations come in the same manner—by faith in Jesus Christ.
God called one man, Abraham, to bless all nations. In the days of Moses the divine plan called for the establishment of a single nation known as Israel; but the divine intent was to use them as a model and pattern to redeem the whole earth.
Laws of Sonship
I have already shown how the priesthood of Levi was transferred to a new order known as the Melchizedek Order, with its high priest being Jesus Christ. The scepter, too, given to Judah in Gen. 49:10, has passed to Jesus Christ. In our time, the Birthright of Joseph is currently in contention, as usurpers have arisen to lay claim to it in opposition to Jesus Christ.
Even as citizenship is a legal issue, so also is rulership. Because Jesus Christ is the King, one must be His son in order to qualify to rule. Being of any other lineage, even of Judah or Joseph itself, is insufficient and irrelevant. Even King David’s brothers were not qualified to rule, nor do they ever again emerge as contenders for the throne.
So how does one become a son of God? It is by becoming a son of Jesus Christ, who is the Creator (John 1:2) and King of the whole earth. He alone holds the scepter, the priesthood, and the Sonship. So how does one become a son of Jesus Christ?
Deut. 25:5-10 is one of the primary laws of sonship. The law says that if a man dies childless, his brother is supposed to go in unto his dead brother’s wife and raise up children in the name of his brother, so that his brother does not lose his inheritance in the earth.
Jesus Christ died childless. But He was not ashamed to call us brethren (Heb. 2:11). We are called to raise up children in the name of our older Brother, so that He does not lose His inheritance in the earth.
How do we do that? The path to Sonship is laid out in the feast days. Through Passover we conceive Christ. Through Pentecost that holy seed grows and matures until it is ready for birth. Through Tabernacles the child is born.
Sonship begins at conception, which occurs when one experiences the feast of Passover. Faith in the blood of the Lamb begets Christ in us. Paul says in 1 Cor. 4:15, “for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” As Paul spoke the gospel of faith in Jesus Christ, those who believed were “begotten” by the seed of the word and by the action of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
In plain language, those who have faith in Jesus Christ are already in the early stages of sonship and can be said to be “sons of God,” though yet too immature for full birth.
That child, which was begotten in them, is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). That holy thing (child) within us, John says, cannot sin, because the seed of God resides in him. 1 John 3:9,
9 That which is begotten of God [the New Creation Man in us] does not sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God.
In our natural birth, we were begotten of the first Adam, which brought forth mortal, corruptible children after his image. First the natural, and then the spiritual. We are now begotten spiritually by the gospel, Paul says. But who is that entity (fetus) that is begotten of God? It is the New Creation Man, not the old man of Adam.
To be begotten of God is the only way to give birth to a son of God. If we depend upon ethnicity, we show that we yet have faith in the old Adam to bring forth the sons of God. Ethnicity has nothing to do with this, because it is not a natural, earthly type of begetting. Neither did Jesus have any natural children. So either we are begotten supernaturally, or there will be no sons of God to rule and reign with Christ.
If we were begotten spiritually through Passover and then mature spiritually through Pentecost, shall Christ in us, the New Creation Man, be brought to birth by the flesh? Have we begun by the Spirit, only to finish by the flesh? If so, that which is born is an Ishmael, not an Isaac. Children of the flesh are not the sons of God.