The Family of Judah

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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But then he pulled back his hand, and out came his brother! "What!" the midwife exclaimed. "How did you break out first?" So he was named Perez.

Genesis 38:29

The story of Joseph is interrupted by Genesis 38, which focuses on Judah and his children. Once again we see a family shattered by unfaithfulness and deception. A young woman named Tamar married into the family, but found herself a victim of repeated dishonesty. It seemed as if she would never be able to have the honor of bearing children. A woman at this time of history would have been virtually powerless to improve her own situation.

So Tamar hatched a plot to deceive her father-in-law, Judah. Disguising herself as a pagan religious prostitute, she propositioned Judah, who had sex with her. When she became pregnant, she revealed that Judah was the father of her child, thus preserving her life. Tamar's deception trumped the deception of Judah and his family, to the extent that Judah himself was impressed.

Reading stories like this, I'm inclined to think, Why is God messing around with such perverse people? But the mystery of God's presence in this story gets still stranger. As it happened, Tamar gave birth to twins, one of whom was named Perez (meaning "breach"). If we skip over to the Gospel of Matthew, and read oft-ignored genealogical background of Jesus, we find this: "Judah as the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar") (Matt. 1:3). From Perez, the child of deception and incest, came the line that included David and ultimately Jesus himself (legally).

God is able to work with the messiest of situations, to bring good out of evil. And God is willing to work with people who are far, far from perfect. I find this both amazing and comforting. I'm amazed at the willingness of holy God to be involved with very unholy people. And I'm comforted because this means God is willing to use me in spite of my foibles and failings.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you ever think that God won't use you for his purposes because you just aren't good enough? Are you willing to offer all that you are to the Lord, so that he might work through you, even today?

PRAYER: Gracious God, sometimes I just don't quite "get" your ways. Your willingness to work with badly messed up people astounds me. And the fact that you can derive good from evil is a wonder.

But I must admit that I am encouraged by this story, because it means that you can use even me. Though I mustn't let this be an excuse for sin, I am gladdened to think that you can work through my life even when I am far less than what I ought to be.

So, thank you, Lord, for being active in my life. May I be wholly available to you this day, to do the work of your kingdom. Amen.