December 15, 2019 Series: Lightbearers: the foremothers of Christ (Advent 2019)
Topic: Covenant Scripture: Genesis 38:1–38:16, Genesis 38:24–38:26
This passage is one of the most disturbing passages in the entire Bible. Even the aspects of this story that were socially acceptable at the time seem bizarre and creepy to us today--never mind the deception, prostitution, incest, and attempted murder. However, this story is important for understanding the covenant history of God and his people.
The story of Judah and Tamar is really about inheritance. At this point in the early history of God's people, Judah was the presumptive heir of Jacob, and he and his descendants had the responsibility to carry on the covenant that God established with Jacob's grandfather Abraham. However, both Judah's first son and his second son died without fathering sons of their own. Judah refused to allow Tamar to marry his third and final son, for fear that she was somehow cursed (never mind that his sons died because of their own wickedness). In essence, Judah abandoned Tamar as damaged goods, and he put his family's safety before God's will. Tamar took drastic action to force Judah to honour the covenant, and Judah ultimately repented of his unfaithfulness.
Much like Judah, we often put our own safety before God's will for us; we also often shun the poor and suffering around us, just as Judah shunned Tamar. In this season when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the descendant of Tamar, let us repent of our unfaithfulness.
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