January 14, 2010

Gen 38-40: Men Behaving Badly

Posted in Betrayal, Human Nature, Prophecy tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 10:59 am by Steve

The encounter between Judah and Tamar is described in rather great detail for a Biblical Story. Surprisingly Judah is a great patriarch of the nation of Israel, yet this story certainly doesn’t paint him in a noble, let alone spiritual, light. Nevertheless, it truly is a human story of people who make rash judgment and the need for leaving a legacy.

The writer wants us to know something more than just the facts of prostitution and retribution. It is an odd story that is shoved in between the initial dream of Joseph toward his brothers and being sold into slavery in Egypt. Why is this story so important that it breaks up the flow of Joseph’s troubles? I suspect this story of Judah and Tamar may shed some light on the unfolding story of Joseph. What do you think?

The writing builds to a surprise ending for Judah but not for the reader. We are let in on the story as it unfolds. We are, if you will, allowed to be in a god-like position as we encounter the story. We know that Judah has not kept his promise to Tamar yet is eager to exact judgment for what he perceives to be prostitution. We are quick with retribution and slow with reflection and redemption. We realize that there is more going on here than Judah realizes. Judah is making rash decision without full knowledge of his own involvement and betrayal of Tamar. Because of him, she is a woman without a family, without a purpose, and with no one to care for, love, and to build a life with. She is widow, forever grieving what might have been.

In the end Tamar takes matter into her own hands and has twins to Judah, Perez and Zerah. We will see their names again in Matthew 1:3 along with Tamar as part of the genealogy of Jesus. This seemingly insignificant event is used by God and highlighted by Matthew as the fulfillment of God’s promises in ways we would never imagine. Even Tamar pretending to be a prostitute is used by God. So don’t be surprised that God uses us and the events in our lives to bring about this plans and purpose.

As we transition to Joseph we must understand that the events that are unfolding, however unfortunate for Joseph, will also be used by God.