The story of Judah and Tamar is unpleasant and awkward to read. You won’t find it in any children’s picture Bible storybooks! If it were a movie, it would surely be at least PG-13.
If you don’t remember this story, take a couple of minutes and read Genesis 38. Then, once you’ve cringed and grimaced as you read all the nasty details, come back to this blog post. I’ll wait.
So why did God include this story in Scripture? There are many reasons, and several applications of this story, some of which I shared last Sunday night when I preached from this passage at Faith Baptist.
But I want to point out one principle that this story, along with many others, joyfully shouts.
Tamar had twins, which were named Perez and Zerah. If you read the first few verses of Matthew 1, you will find that Perez is in the genealogy of Jesus Christ! The twins rescued Judah’s line from going extinct, but one descended from Perez would rescue the world!
This means that this is not a useless story, not merely a strange and unpleasant story – no, this story is one vital chapter in the big story of God’s salvation! Without this story, Jesus would not have been born. Without this story, you could not be saved.
But whom did God use to bring about the birth of Judah’s descendants? A Canaanite woman – no more unlikely person could have been found. And how did God bring about the birth of Judah’s descendants? Through a shocking and sinful action – no more unlikely means could have been found.
But this is how God works! And this is the principle I wanted to emphasize here, that shines out in blazing beauty from this story: God brings salvation through the sin of disobedient people. Joseph saved his family because his brothers sinned in selling him as a slave; God blessed the nation of Israel through King Solomon who was born because David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then married her; and ultimately, Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world because He was betrayed and murdered. God loves to turn horrible evil to good; He loves to bring life out of death; He loves to bring rescue out of failure. God loves to draw straight lines with very crooked sticks.
And each of us is Judah – deserving only condemnation and death for our sins. But in God’s grace, the greatest sin in history produced the salvation of all who will believe! And because of His grace, you who struggle with sin can experience transformation day after day.
Because of God’s grace, there is no-one who is a hopeless case; and because of God’s grace there is no-one who can brag about their own goodness. Fellow believers, we are each so sinful we cannot boast, but each so loved we need not fear. For in Christ our sins are forgiven!