by Ben Gibson
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Genesis 49:10
On Sunday, April 6th, 1862 the Union soldiers were still cooking their breakfasts when they heard shots in the distance. Camped out near Shiloh Meeting House, the open field was only supposed to serve as a pit stop on the trek down to the Confederate rail center in Corinth, Mississippi. However, a patrol of Union troops stumbled upon 35,000 Confederate soldiers on the outskirts of the Union camp and one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War ensued. With over 100,000 troops engaged and over 20,000 casualties by the end of the fighting, the Battle at Shiloh was the bloodiest occurrence on American soil up to that point in the country’s history.
At the center of all the fighting stood the small Shiloh Meeting House. The Messianic use of Shiloh, meaning “he to whom it belongs,” is found only once in Scripture, in Jacob’s blessing to his sons in Genesis 49. While Shiloh was also a town in Ephraim, the term is alone used with prophetic connotation by Jacob. In blessing his son Judah, Jacob declares that Judah’s tribe will hold the scepter until “he to whom it belongs” comes.
Christ, we know now, is the one to whom it belongs.
But it is not just the scepter that is Christ’s. We know from Colossians that all the world was created in and through him. Christ is Shiloh, he to whom it all belongs. I am often left wondering, however, whether Christ would still claim it? In a world where the events, such as the one at Shiloh, Tennessee, have become common place, why would a perfect God choose acknowledge ownership over such a messy reality?
In the incarnation, we are given the answer. Christ, in the incarnation, comes and shows, in taking on human flesh and human nature, in taking on our sin through his own suffering and death, that it all belongs to him.
In the incarnation, Christ claimed every moment from Jacob’s death to a spring morning in Tennessee and beyond. In the incarnation, God, in Christ, surveys all of creation and declares “…this is mine.”