Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Until Shiloh Comes

This is the ancient biblical site of Shiloh.  The path at the bottom of the hill near the sign is the main entrance to the city which was located on top of the hill.  Most cities in biblical times were located on hill tops.  The path goes up the hill to the top where there is an observation tower.  From the top of the hill you can look down to a flat area part way down the hill slope to where the location of the tabernacle was.

The tabernacle at Shiloh was located in the center of the photo above on this side of the rocks.  According to Wikipedia, the site of ancient Shiloh was a city in the Ephraim hill-country that served as the religious capital of Israel for 300 years before Jerusalem became the religious capital under King David.  Shiloh is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in the books of Joshua and Judges as an assembly place for the people of Israel.  The "whole congregation of Israel assembled...and set up the tabernacle of the congregation..." (Joshua 18:1).  The tabernacle was built under Moses' direction from God in Exodus 26 to house the Ark of the Covenant.  According to Talmudic sources, the tent sanctuary remained at Shiloh for 369 years until the Ark of the Covenant was taken into the battle camp (1 Samuel 4:3–5) at Eben-Ezer and captured by the Philistines at Aphek. At some point during its long stay at Shiloh, the portable tent seems to have been enclosed within a compound or replaced with a standing structure that had "doors" (1 Samuel 3:15) which was a precursor to the Temple.  Eli was the high priest of Shiloh and the last Israelite judge before the rule of the King Saul.  The tabernacle left Shiloh when Eli died at the age of 98. 

The tabernacle at Shiloh housed the presence of God among His people, the Israelites.  In Genesis 49 there is a reference to Shiloh in Jacob’s blessings to his 12 sons.  The reference is a hint to the future person that will be filled with God’s presence and will rule the Israelites as their long awaited King.

In Genesis 49 verses 10-12 it says:  “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.  He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; he washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes.  His eyes are dull from wine, and his teeth white from milk.” (NASB)

A scepter is a symbol of sovereignty, and is traditionally held by a king.  In the Bible, the Promised One "who is to come" to the people at some time in the future is called the Moshiach in Hebrew or Messiah in English.  He is also referred to as the "King of Kings", and he will be the one to take over and hold the scepter to rule the nations of the world.  Jacobs blessing of Judah indicates that the scepter will stay with the existing family lineage of Judah, the Jewish people's government and the head of state until the final leader who will then claim that scepter. According to Genesis 49:10, that individual is also named Shiloh.

I traveled to the ancient site of Tel Shiloh in the fall of 2009.  The experience had a profound effect on me as I gazed at the location of the ancient tabernacle site where God’s presence had been for a period of 369 years.  I saw the path where a certain man from the tribe of Benjamin ran through the city to the location of the tabernacle located on the back side of the city of Shiloh’s hill to tell the high priest that the ark had been captured by the Philistines.  Eli was sitting in a chair in front of the tabernacle and upon hearing the news he fell off his chair and died from a broken neck.  I could visual all of these events as I stood and viewed this historic ancient biblical site!  Visiting Israel and these historic sites brings the Bible to life by adding the 3rd dimension, the Holy Land of the Almighty!  In the meantime we are all waiting “until Shiloh comes” as King of Kings to rule the nations of the world!  May he come soon!

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