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Gen. 38:1-30 - Judah - Part 3
Last week we ended with Judah making some very bad choices, though, in the end, he did repent. But blessed be Tamar! Here’s a great surprise. Tamar, the Canaanite, who began outside the people of God, turned out to be a heroine of God’s people. Tamar aligned herself with the purposes of God, and through her, God’s promise to Abraham was fulfilled.
The Judah-Tamar story teaches us that God’s purpose is bound up with the growth and development of His people, so that God is always at work in His children’s lives - shaping them to serve His design, and He so awesomely did here with Judah and Tamar!
As Andrew Reid has so well said: “In this way it is possible to see all of life as the medium of God’s activity. He is not just active when we read our Bible and pray. He is also active when we live in our world. Hence, when we wake up tomorrow we don’t wake up to a day without God. Tomorrow is God’s day, for He made it, formed it, and works in it. What’s more, He wants you to enter tomorrow determined to be His person in it, and to let Christ be formed in you as you allow His word to interact with your situation.”
In case you didn't know, Tamar is the first of 5 women in the genealogy of Christ in Matt.1. vs. 3.
I do have to say this because we will be dealing with this all through the rest of Genesis: The principal theme of this chapter is divine providence! God is at work bringing about His purposes through men who are actively pursuing sin.
In chapters 37 and 39 and following, God is providentially at work to fulfill His promise to make the descendants of Jacob a great and mighty nation, and at a time when these brothers were only intent upon diminishing their numbers.
In ch. 38 God is at work, providentially assuring the fulfillment of His promise to provide a Messiah through the descendants of Judah. He could have easily picked Joseph, right???
Ideally God’s sovereign power and all-wise and loving purposes are accomplished through obedient servants. But when His children go their own way, God’s power is channeled through unwilling, disobedient men and women, IN SPITE of themselves, to achieve God’s plans.
Who would have EVER thought that there was any chance of the Messianic line continuing through Judah from the initial events of this chapter!!!???
Here was Judah, the ancestor of Messiah, taking a Canaanite wife, failing to keep his promise to his daughter-in-law, and propositioning a cult prostitute. In spite of all of Judah’s sins and in spite of Tamar’s impatience, Perez, the forefather of David and of the Savior, was born. Who but God could have brought such a thing to pass?
Many Christians are being taught that God’s purposes can only be achieved if we are faithful and obedient. So, how do those that hold to that teaching answer to this chapter in that regard? And who of us even want to believe that God’s purposes were contingent upon our commitment and consistency? Nothing could be further from the truth than thinking that God is somehow limited by man’s sinfulness.
The doctrine of the providence of God is one of the most comforting truths in all of the Bible, for it assures me that what God says, He will do, even if I am found to be actively resisting it. If the promise of eternal salvation were not dependent upon God’s character and His power, Who can bring about His will in spite of man, what kind of promise would it be? We might just as well quit right now! But if God’s promises are sure, then I can diligently work for these goals, realizing that I cannot lose, even when I am faint of heart or go my own way through disobedience or rebellion.
So, In this story we have yet another incredible picture of God’s intervening grace. We are ALL damaged goods, profoundly broken! Yet that is why Jesus came! Jesus is the breakthrough Son who came to what:? “Seek and Save the Lost!” The Son of God personally stepped into history and chose to be born into the sort of family that would grab tabloid headlines!
Through Judah and Tamar, Jesus was the Son of a sinner and a prostitute. And we know He spent much of His time with sinners and prostitutes, telling them about the triumph of grace over our just moral living. He brought grace, acceptance, transformation, and hope for sinning sufferers and victim-perpetrators.
Jesus inverted what Judah had first done to Tamar. While Judah blamed Tamar for his sins to maintain his own innocence, Jesus took our blame and our shame, so that it might be put to death with Him at the cross!
He now covers us with His perfection, saying, “You are righteous,” taking away our sins and making us acceptable to His Father. In that way He removes our curse forever and welcomes us into the family of God where we can be loved and protected by Him.
I think the most staggering insight we have from this story is that this is the very family that the Messiah will stem from. That Jesus Christ has literally and figuratively connected Himself to these people here, identifying with this particular group of sinners that I’m pretty certain no one in this room has anything on! Ya see, Jesus Christ was connected with sinners long before He went to the cross.
So listen, it does not matter what kind of a past you come from, what kind of dysfunction you’ve been connected to, you’ve got nothing on the ancestry of Jesus Himself.
As the writer of Hebrews says: (Heb. 4:15) “The one who has faced every temptation that we have - and more, in order that He can relate to us, also has us pretty well trumped in the family tree department.
Religion somehow wants to put Jesus on this unreachable pedestal that we could never touch. But the Word of God says - NO! The Bible is very publicly putting His line out there for all to see. The Word of God is bringing Jesus down from this religious pedestal so you and I can touch Him and relate to Him.
Christ is, in the Gospels, forever lowering Himself that He might relate to us. And that is the condensation of the Incarnation. I mean, He washed His disciples stinky feet! Jesus is saying - “Look, I want to live INSIDE of you! That’s how close I wanna be with you!” And in order to do just that He came and He became one of us and took upon Himself all our sin.
He left the perfect fellowship of the Trinity -ch. 37 - to come after his wayward brothers in the place of burdens and put this unspeakable weight of sin upon Himself on that Cross! That’s what this stunning picture last time we were together in ch. 37 is all about! ALLOW that to really just stir your affections for the Gospel.
I am FAR from being the perfect husband! But man, my DESIRE is there! And that’s the beauty of the Gospel. He’s already taken my sins and so now I can just hang on to my DESIRE and that’s all He wants.
Jesus is saying to you today - man, I just love you so much I willingly signed up for all this because I just want to live inside of you. That’s how close I wanna be with you!