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Christian Biblical Studies
All Scripture citations are to the King James (Authorised) Version, unless noted otherwise.
Hebrews 1: 1, 2
THE ANNOUNCEMENT that the Duchess of Cambridge, Katherine Middleton, is pregnant, has attracted the excited attention of the world press. As is usual in the matter of royal births, there is much speculation as to the child’s sex, especially since the recent abolition of the law of primogeniture. This ancient law stated that when a daughter and a son are born to the prospective or reigning monarch, the son shall inherit the throne on his father’s death, regardless of the order of birth. But now, under the new ‘born first’ arrangement, should ‘Kate’ as she is affectionately known give birth to a daughter, followed later by a son, the daughter will become the rightful heir.
A mature democracy naturally adjusts its constitution as circumstances change, though perhaps in this particular instance the abolishing of the ‘male first’ rule owes some of its impetus to the emphasis in contemporary Britain on equality between the sexes. Nonetheless, the alteration has a venerable basis in ancient biblical law.
The book of Numbers, Chapter 27, relates how the five daughters of Zelophehad, a tribal leader, approached Moses with a grievance. Their deceased father had no son (that is, they had no brother), which meant that under the existing law of Israel his land would pass to the nearest male kin outside the immediate family, and they would be disinherited. Their complaint being a just one, Jehovah instructed Moses to amend the law (vs. 7-9):
 . . . give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; . . .  And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter. And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren [brothers].
Among the tribes of Israel, the laws by which property and land rights were handed down from one family to another were of paramount importance. The expression ‘from one generation to another’ signified perpetuity and was probably understood as a guarantee of the permanence of God’s presence with the nation. As far back as Abraham, before Israel became a nation, God offered him land as far as the eye could see, to all the points of the compass, buttressed with the iron-clad promise that it would become the inheritance of his children (Genesis 13):
 Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:  For all the land that thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. . . .  Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
To forfeit or disown one’s inheritance was considered a disgrace, as in the case of Esau, who on an impulse renounced his in exchange for a meal to satisfy a ravenous hunger (Genesis 25: 31-34 – ‘Esau despised his birthright’; see also Hebrews 12: 16, 17).
One of the accessories of monarchy is the sceptre, an ornamented staff carried by the sovereign on ceremonial occasions (photo above*). Signifying royalty, it is the meaning implied in the prophecy of Jacob to his son, Judah (Genesis 49: 10):
The sceptre shall not depart from [the tribe] of Judah, nor a lawgiver . . . until Shiloh come; . . .
The meaning behind Shiloh is ‘tranquillity’, and the word came to be understood as a title of the Messiah, who would become both monarch and righteous judge (‘lawgiver’). The remainder of this verse predicts the result of the arrival of Shiloh:
and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
Messiah would draw not only Israel, but all people to him. But there’s a catch. For with the arrival of Messiah, the inherited authority of Judah would pass to him. It was necessary that Israel be disinherited of regal prerogative in order that Messiah might reign. The words of Jacob quite plainly point to Christ, the Messiah-Saviour not only of Israel, but of the whole world. These sentiments are echoed in the prophecy of Isaiah (9: 7):
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.
The principle of monarchy runs right through the biblical text, even before Israel adopted it as a system of government. Sovereign authority best describes the incomparable power held by the LORD God – ‘King for ever and ever’ (Psalm 10: 16). Yet in a wonderful mystery, we see that God divests Himself of some of this authority and power and bestows it on Christ: the Almighty confers Kingship on the son and heir, referring to His beloved in terms of near omnipotence (Hebrews 1):
 (God) hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:  Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. . . .  But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
Shiloh, Messiah, Christ is the one who alone conveys the essence and qualities of the Father. The eventual result of His death on the cross will be the ‘gathering’ of all people to Him in His future kingdom on earth (John 12: 32 – ‘will draw all men unto me’).
As the rightful heir, Christ the King shall reign over the earth until all the enemies of righteousness and eternal life are defeated – including Death itself.
Crown him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon his throne;
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
All music but its own:
Awake my soul, and sing
Of him who died for thee,
And hail him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.
Crown him the Lord of peace,
Whose power a sceptre sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease,
And all be prayer and praise:
His reign shall know no end,
And round his pierced feet
Fair flowers of Paradise extend
Their fragrance ever sweet.
– M. Bridges (Hymns Ancient & Modern)
* Dating from 1661, the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross signifies temporal power.
It is 92.2 cm long [a little over 36 inches]. Precious stones include the 530 carat Cullinan 1 diamond. Crown copyright.
Source <https://www.royal.gov.uk/The%20Royal%20Collection%20and%20other%20collections/TheCrownJewels/Gallery.aspx>, retrieved December 9, 2012. (Link Broken)
Copyright December 2012 ukbiblestudents.co.uk
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