Recently I posted a video on 17 Missions of the Holy Ghost. I am presently working on missions of Jesus Christ, and after that missions of our Heavenly Father.
This morning I thought I would just share an example of what to do when you have a question about a scripture. The text is from Luke 1:33 and illustrates one of the missions of Jesus Christ.
33. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
In reading this text, we can immediately surmise that one of Christ’s missions is to be king over the house of Jacob. That’s a very low level initial response to reading this verse.
However, some questions arise. Why Jacob? Why didn’t Luke write that he would reign over the house of Israel forever? Or the house of Abraham? Or Adam (ie. all of God’s children)?
These are all correct answers as we know every tongue will confess, and every knee will bend to Christ as king who sits upon the throne (Rom. 14:11; Mosiah 27:31; D&C 76:110; D&C 88:104).
So why does Luke intentionally use the name Jacob instead of someone else?
I want to demonstrate the path I took in arriving at an answer to this question, not that you have to accept my answer :), but just to show how you might approach a tricky question or verse you read. It’s illustrative of various ways to research.
What do we know about Jacob?
His name in Hebrew means “supplanter” which was appropriate as he supplanted Esau in obtaining the birthright and his father’s blessing.
We know he was righteous and that later, God made a covenant with him and changed his name to Israel.
We know he had 12 sons and a daughter and the sons formed the house of Israel.
There are specific promises made to Israel both in ancient times as well as modern.
That’s good enough for now.
The first thing I did was to click the link from Luke 1:33 to go to Bible Hub. I went here for 2 reasons. I wanted to confirm the word for “house” and see what other commentaries had written about this verse. It never hurts to piggy-back off someone else’s work. It’s an easy way to find an answer.
The word for house in this verse comes from the Greek word οἶκον (oikon). It means a dwelling; by implication, a family.
I then clicked into the commentaries on the site and one of the commentaries pointed to Romans 9:6. There are several relevant verses here. From the JST:
3)(For once I could have wished that myself were accursed from Christ,) for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh;
4)Who are Israelites; of whom are the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God,
5)And the promises which are made unto the fathers; and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ was, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
6)Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.
7)Neither, because they are all children of Abraham, are they the seed; but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
8)That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
In other words:
1) some born to Israel’s lineage are not actually under Israel’s promises.
2) the promises God made to Abraham were passed down to Isaac
3) to be the children of the promise, Israel must forsake the flesh (natural/carnal man) and BE the children of the promise by keeping the commandments
4) there are those who join Israel from outside of Israel (Gentiles) who become children of the promise through adoption because they keep the covenants
Next I went to the Bible Dictionary and looked up the entry for Jacob. The key line and verse references for me were these:
“It was through Jacob that the covenant of Abraham continued (Gen. 28:1–4, 12–22); it was then passed on to Joseph and Ephraim.”
The key verses in Genesis 28 are these two.
3. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
4. And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.
All the promises of Abraham were passed down to Isaac (Romans 9:7) and here we see they were further passed down to Jacob.
Later in Genesis 28, Jacob is visited by the Lord and promised amazing things. He is promised a land, and that his seed would spread as the dust of the earth and that all the families of the earth would be bless through his seed.
Jacob’s name is not yet changed to Israel. That won’t happen until Genesis 32 that he receives a new name. Those incredible covenantal promises to him were made prior to his blessing from wrestling with the angel.
We also know elsewhere in scripture, God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.
So who is Jacob in Luke 1:33? He is the promised bloodline, not just the covenant people.
I then did a search in Genesis for the word “house.” I wanted to see the first usage of the word as that has implications for future references.
The first use of the word house is in Genesis 7:1 which reads:
“And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.”
Clicking into the Hebrew for the word house shows it is בֵּיתְךָ֖ (bê·ṯə·ḵā), which means house or family.
Looking at other references for that word in the Blue Letter Bible I found an earlier use of the word in Genesis 6:14.
“14. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.”
Can you guess which word is house???
It is the word “within.”
They are instructed to make rooms in the ark and then protect the ark using tar or pitch as waterproofing both on the inside, and the outside.
What’s happening here?
Noah built an ark for others and was told to make rooms and protect them.
Pitch makes it waterproof, but the purpose is to keep the world out of the ark (outside pitch keeps water from coming in) and what’s inside the ark (light, family, animals) separate from the world (inside pitch which gives extra protection from water coming in).
Jacob was given a house which was to bless the world and protect them. It includes both those within the house of Israel, and without (Gentiles). The ark was both for God’s covenant family (Noah) and lesser animals to protect and preserve them.
Christ will be the king of the house of Jacob, perhaps because he is the ark. He has rooms for everyone and has protected it from the world, and separated us from the world. These promises are replicated in the house of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob is not yet Israel which is a defined covenant family. It’s the broader bloodline but accommodates those who are adopted in. Christ is king over this whole household that come to him just as anyone who would have repented in Noah’s day could have boarded the ark.
At least that’s my 2 cents on the topic. I’m sure my understanding will change a little over time, but this was my question and thought process to get to an answer. Hopefully that helps someone see how to break down questions and look things up on them.
Abraham and the Law of Circumcision, Part 2
Abraham and the Law of Circumcision, Part 1
Blessings and Cursings in the Abrahamic Covenant
Heather Linchenko – How to Fight Right to Build Zion
Kerry Muhlestein – A Primer on Egyptian Religion, how it Parallels LDS Beliefs and Temples
How to be Encircled in God’s Love