From Hebrews 7:14, this phrase is not perhaps the most promising of texts for four sermons, but that is to calculate without the depth and scope of the preaching of Iain D. Campbell.
At the Reformation and Revival Fellowship Conference this week at Swanwick, Dr Campbell did what perhaps he does best (though one must not underestimate any of his many talents), and focussed on the Lord Jesus Christ through a lens provided by the Old Testament.
We were led first to the verse in Hebrews 7 then quickly to Genesis 38, recounting the sins of Judah against, and with, Tamar. Can't say I have ever heard this passage read and preached on at a conference before. But moving as he does effortlessly up and down the scales of biblical theology, Iain first showed us the sinfulness of God's covenant people, then the singularity of God's covenant purpose and then the sovereignty of God's covenant grace.
The second sermon was on Genesis 42-43, showing us the purposes of Joseph, Judah and God respectively. Joseph was testing his brothers; God tests us. Iain has had his own very real trials this summer but I was greatly impressed by his not mentioning his own afflictions in illustration of his point, though it would have been very much to the point. Many ministers today can't wait to thrust in a personal illustration; and we end up seeing more of the preacher than of Christ.
Judah's purpose was to be a pledge for his younger brother, and we were immediately taken to the cross, and Christ our surety. 'I shall lose none of those you have given me' (John 6:39).
God's purpose of course is for good, and we believe this when reason fails. Faith is reasonable, but sometimes faith has to fly solo and to places reason cannot go and cannot reach.
The third in this series was on Genesis 49, showing that the great characteristic of Judah is to be the one from whom the sceptre shall not depart, till it comes to 'him to whom it belongs' (however one interprets 'Shiloh'). Christ as prophet, priest and King was shown to us, especially the last, and how God's weakness is infinitely stronger than men.
Finally we were taken to Revelation 5, to the Lion of Judah. Christ the Lion roars in the proclamation of the gospel. We were reminded of Robert Bruce's rebuke to James VI of Scotland who chatted through a sermon - when the Lion of Judah roars in the preaching, it behoves all petty kings of the earth to remain silent.
This was a wonderful series.
We were also greatly helped, moved and encouraged by Faith Cook on John Bunyan and spiritual warfare and by Geoff Thomas making Brownlow North come alive in three dimensions.
The sermons should be availabe in due course on the RRF website www.reformationand revival.org.uk, and CDs can be ordered. Next year's conference is 21-23 November.