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Genesis 38





Have you ever been to Home Depot to look at paint? Some colors look good, some bad, and some downright ugly. 

The story we see in Genesis 38 seems to look good, bad, and ugly, so let's take a look. 

First the Ugly: 

In Genesis 38, we see Judah leave his family. This is just after he bargains to sell Joseph rather than letting his brothers kill him. So, Judah leaves and goes to Adullam. Adullam is a place where we see later on in the Old Testament, David hanging out with his band of brothers while hiding from Saul. 

While in Adullam, he found a Canaanite wife and had a family. This seems to be “ugly” because God wanted the Israelites of which Judah was, to only marry within the Israelite community. However, Judah does this and has 3 kids: Er, Onan, and Shelah. 

When the time was right, Judah got a wife for Er. Her name was Tamar. The Bible says that Er was wicked, and God killed him. It was in that culture that the father of the household was responsible for making sure an heir, preferably a male, would be born to pass on the lineage. 

So, Judah told Onan to marry Tamar. Tamar became Onan’s wife; however, another ugly and bad thing happened. Onan knew that if a child were born, it would be in the lineage of Judah and Er, so he made a point to do what was necessary to make sure Tamar would not conceive. This was an ugly thing to God, and the Bible says, Onan died due to his wickedness. 

Meanwhile, Judah was afraid that he would lose his only other son, Shelah. So, he sent Tamar to live with her father while Shelah grew up with the promise that once grown, Judah would give Shelah to Tamar.

Now the Bad: 

After a long time, Judah’s wife passed, and Shelah grew up. Judah didn’t give Tamar to Shelah. 

Judah was making his way to Timnah with his friend Hirah to shear some sheep. Someone told Tamar that Judah was on his way to Timnah. So, Tamar removed her widow's clothing and changed clothes, giving the appearance of a prostitute, complete with a veil to cover her face. 

When Judah was on his way, he propositioned Tamar for sex. There was a negotiation on price. A kid goat. Tamar was smart and asked for collateral, and Judah gave away his ring, cord, and staff. These were identifiable markers as to who Judah was as a person and where he was aligned in his socioeconomic class. 

Once Judah returned home, he sent Hirah with a goat to pay but found that there was no prostitute along the road and was told there had never been one. So, Hirah returned, and Judah said to Hirah, that she could keep the collateral or he would become a laughingstock. 

90 days later, it was reported that Tamar was with child. Judah was enraged and ordered her to be executed. On the day of the execution, Tamar spoke and said that the father was the owner of the ring, cord, and staff. 

It was at that moment that Judah realized it was his, meaning that the child would be his, and he declared, “She is more righteous than I.” 

Then we turn to the Good: 

Judah honored God and didn’t have sex with Tamar again. 

When the time came for Tamar to have her child, she had twin sons. The first to poke his hand out was Zerah, but the first to come out was Perez. Although truly an ugly and bad thing, the lineage of Christ was preserved

through Judah, Tamar, and Perez, as they appear along with Zerah when describing the lineage of Christ in Matthew 1:13 “Judah, the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar.” 

So, what is the key takeaway from today’s story? What is the insight of knowledge to be dispensed? It is that wherever you find yourself in life, whether it seems to be ugly, bad, or good, God is in control. It may appear that the paint color we have picked out is ugly, or bad, but God has the final say in what is good. Romans 8:28: “And

 we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Today don’t let your fear or failure lead you to take matters into your own hands. Be the kind of person who lives life knowing that God, in His sovereignty, knows your name, knows your mistakes, and loves you just the way you are. Shift yourself today to align yourself with His name.

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