December 10, 2007

Tamar and Judah

Genesis 38:24-30

Judah [was] the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar ...
Matthew 1:3


There is a surprise in Jesus' genealogy. It's the women. Four are mentioned-and they are not the type we might expect to show up in the pedigree of the Messiah. Instead, most people would hide these names away like skeletons in their closet.

Tamar was a Canaanite, widowed and without children, and her actions would be considered scandalous even in our world today.

On the surface, Tamar's story is sleazy and disgraceful. But that's not the whole truth. Judah, her father-in-law, is the one who disgraced her. Tamar engaged in a desperate, out-of-bounds attempt to find a future in Israel's family by bearing a son. That's why Judah says, "She is more righteous than I," when he acknowledges that he is the father of her unborn children.

God's grace is so great, however, that it can redeem a story as sordid as Tamar and Judah's and enfold it into his redemptive plans.

Tamar and Judah aren't the only ones with a sordid past. Some of us have acted in ways that are unseemly-and without any of Tamar's higher motives. But the remarkable good news is that God continues to graft "people with a past" into his family tree. These are people who place their trust in the one whose genealogy is being told. These are people like you and me.

Lord, many of us have histories that embarrass us. Yet you can grab hold of us and carry our sordid past into a glorious future. Our future rests in your grace, through Jesus. Amen.

About the author — Bob Heerspink

Dr. Robert Heerspink was director of Back to God Ministries International from 2006 until 2011, when he passed away. He had previously pastored several Christian Reformed churches. Bob loved to write and was a frequent contributor to the Today devotional.

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