The story of Joseph begins in Genesis 37 and goes to chapter 50. But there’s an odd, yet significant interruption in the narrative in chapter 38. It’s the story of Judah’s family.

Christ was born through the generations of Judah. However, there was a big bump as described in Genesis 38. I suggest you read it so you’ll fully grasp what I’m saying below.

Judah had three sons, but two were slain by the Lord for their unrighteousness. Judah’s third son had been promised to Tamar, his daughter-in-law from her marriage to the first son. The idea was to keep the lineage going.

Tamar pretended to be a prostitute and tricked Judah into having sex with her. She conceived and gave birth to twins.

One wonders why Judah would have sex with a prostitute in the first place. His wife had died, but that was still not a good excuse.

The first time I read thhis chapter I was amazed that something like this is in the Bible, God’s holy word. Aren’t these supposed to be stories about God’s holy people? It turns out they weren’t always so righteous after all.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 the stories from the Old Testament serve as examples for us. That’s true of negative examples, too. We can learn a lot about what not to do.

I love God’s word for not pulling punches. It lays out people’s faults for us to see, no matter how bad they are. And the Scriptures offer hope and redemption.

We get a breath of fresh air when Joseph’s story resumes in Genesis 39 because we see the account of a truly righteous man.

But when we look at Genesis 38, we can’t help but see God’s grace. How he made good out of a messed up situation is astonishing. If Tamar hadn’t done what she did, the lineage through which Christ was supposed to come would have been broken.

Part of Matthew 1:3 says, And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom…

How many times has God taken something awful from our lives, or the lives of those around us, and made something good out of it? He does all things for His glory, and we are so blessed that He is gracious.

Does that mean we can sin and God will clean up after us? Note what Paul says in selected verses from Romans 6.

1.What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2.God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?…
6.Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Let’s seek to do that which pleases Him, while at the same time realizing His grace makes things right in the end.

Note: I had an opportunity at church to give a Bible study on this. Read more and hear the message here.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Study

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