September 08, 2014

Judah's Sordid Story

Genesis 38

Judah … said, “She is more righteous than I …”
—Genesis 38:26


Today’s story is full of deceit, separation, and immorality. Judah, from whose line Jesus the Messiah would come, was a wicked man at this point in his life. Judah was the one who proposed making money by selling Joseph into slavery. Joseph was now separated from the family against his will. But Judah willingly chose to be separate, living among the Canaanite people. Two of his sons were so wicked that God killed them. Judah promised their widow, Tamar, that his third son would become her husband, but he never made good on the promise.

Furious and fearful, Tamar trapped Judah by disguising herself as a prostitute. Unprincipled Judah bought her services, but not before Tamar extracted, as payment, Judah’s own seal, cord, and staff. She became pregnant, and when Judah heard about this embarrassment to his family, he demanded that Tamar be burned to death. How often are we not also blind to our own faults, but alert to the faults of others?

In her own defense, Tamar exposed Judah with the evidence of his seal, cord, and staff, so he was caught in his hypocrisy. Sheepish, he had to admit that she was better than he was.

One of Tamar’s twins, Perez, like Judah, later became an ancestor of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1:3). Redemption would be a long time in coming, but by God’s power, it was already on the way!

Lord, comfort us with the truth that your purposes are not thwarted by wickedness. Forgive and deliver us from our sin. Amen.

About the author — Kenneth D. Koeman

Rev. Ken Koeman is a pastor at Bellevue, Washington, Christian Reformed Church. He has written Today devotions in past years and has also authored numerous articles for The Banner, the magazine of the Christian Reformed Church. Ken and his wife, Kay, live in Bellevue and have two children and five grandchildren.

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