The prophecy of Jacob, that the sceptre would not pass from Judah until He had come that was to be sent, seems to be analogous. A Jew living at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem might naturally have supposed that the time mentioned in the prophecy had now been sufficiently indicated; and yet there were nearly six hundred years to go. The sceptre had passed in one sense; it was never again to be as firmly grasped as it had been in the days of David or even Zedekiah; but it hadn’t been wholly taken away. Zorobabel is of the line of Judah, even though he is only a governor under the Persian king.
Then later on when the Maccabees come into power, the sceptre seems to have gone even further from Judah, since the Maccabees descend from Levi. Yet either because they have a descent from Judah via a maternal line, or because they are at least Jews, that is, named from Judah and living by right in Judah’s territory, the sceptre (we can judge with hindsight) had not been wholly taken away; and the prophecy has another one hundred and fifty years to run.
Not until Herod the Idumaean and Pompey the Roman govern the Holy Land is the sceptre finally removed from Judah; and yet even then, it is not at the beginning of Herod’s life, but at the end, forty years later, that He comes who is to be sent. How easy it would have been to make out a case against the prophecy of Jacob in, say, 10BC. Yet it was fulfilled in its time.
So the power of a dynasty or empire may linger longer in God’s sight, than in man’s.