ALL THE WOMEN IN THE GENEALOGY OF CHRIST
WERE RAGAMUFFINS IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER
TAMAR FASCINATES ME:
A YOUNG WIDOW
A VICTIM OF SOCIAL INJUSTICE
WHO USES SEXUAL ENTRAPMENT
TO GET JUSTICE.
As Tim Keller says, “the story of Judah and Tamar certainly illustrates that the Bible is not a series of moral stories about people that will inspire us to live godly lives.” No, the Bible is not about man but about God. This changes the way we read the Bible.
Up until the 1600’s scientists thought the sun revolved around the earth. That one mistaken belief led to thousands of other mistaken beliefs. When Copernicus discovered that the earth actually revolved around the sun, it righted so many misinterpretations.
In the same way, many misinterpret the Bible, seeing man at the center. They read the Bible as a book of heroic stories, and it leads to a multitude of wrong beliefs. The Bible is not about us, not about a series of heroes, but about God. God does not revolve around us, we revolve around Him. He is a merciful God who sees us as we are — sinful, manipulative, and selfish — and loves us. He wants to refine us and change us, and when we are victims of injustice, even though we are sinful, He fights for us. He is our Hero, our Rescuer, our Wonderful Merciful Savior.
Was Tamar wrong to use sexual entrapment? Absolutely. But it is fascinating when Judah says: “She is more righteous than I.” Perhaps you have heard it said that all sins are the same. While it is true that all sins result in the same guilty pronouncement that leads to death, Scripture confirms that not all sins are the same in God’s eyes. Last week you heard Gary Haugen say that the two worst sins according to Scripture are idolatry and injustice. We need to be most concerned about the sins that break God’s heart and tear us to pieces. It isn’t that we shouldn’t care about all sin, for all sin grieves God and hurts us, but so often we are like the Pharisees, swallowing camels and choking on gnats.
This is a story of how God hates injustice and fights for the widow, the orphan, the abused. This is a story of our merciful God breaking through to a man who was blind. God will bring fire into our lives to refine us, for He cares so much for us.
We’ve already looked at Leah, the girl nobody wanted, and how her heart finally turned from her idol of Jacob’s love to God. When Judah was born she named him Judah because it means “praise,” for she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.”
But Judah, like all of us, had a sin nature. He needed The Potter to put him over the fire.
It isn’t that God didn’t care about Judah’s unhappiness on earth — but He cared more about making him holy. It isn’t that God didn’t understand how Judah had been hurt — how his father had favored his brother Joseph. God knows that the sin of others often exacerbates sin in ourselves. But He still wanted Judah to become the man he designed him to be. Keller thinks Judah began “to go bad” the day that he and his brothers chose to throw their brother in the pit and deceive their father with a “kid.” They took the blood of a goat, smeared it on the coat of many colors, and brought it to Jacob.
Many years later, Judah himself would be deceived with a “kid.” This time Tamar would be the one doing the deceiving. Oh — this is a story!
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday-Wednesday: Bible Study
2. What did Judah and his brothers do to Joseph? (Genesis 37:18-28)
3. In the Keller sermon he will trace a pattern with a Hebrew phrase “Haker Na,” which can be translated recognize, identify, or know. How is it used in Genesis 37:32?
4. When we sin, our soul becomes twisted. If we repent, it is untwisted. How was Judah’s soul twisted here?
5. Where is God asking you to keep short accounts and stay in the light so that your soul does not become twisted?
6. Read Genesis 38:1-11
A. What happened to Er and why?
B. What happened to Onan and why? (The Catholic church calls this the sin of birth control — do you see any validity to this or not? Explain — I’m looking for honest and thoughtful discussion here — not a put down to Catholic theology.)
C. What did Judah then tell Tamar to do, but what did he actually plan to do in his heart? Why?
D. Blaming others
Two weeks ago our own Elizabeth shared how when things go wrong, she wants to blame someone. (Their car needed expensive repairs and she wanted to blame her husband — which she said, “makes no sense.” 🙂 Let’s consider this, for I think it is a common default of the soul.
1) Do you have this tendency to want to blame others when things go wrong? If so, why, do you think?
2) Why do you think Judah wanted to blame Tamar for the deaths of his sons?
3) When trouble comes into our lives, how do you think God would have us respond?
7. Read Genesis 38:12-23 and describe what Tamar did. Why do you think?
8. Read Genesis 38:24-26 (Very important)
A. How did Judah respond to the news of Tamar’s pregnancy? What darkness do you see in his soul?
B. How does God break through to Judah’s sin?
C. Comment on his statement in verse 26.
9. God is continually finding ways to break through to us and show us our sin. Name a way He has broken through to you recently.
10. Last week in the free message from Gary Haugen, he challenged us: “What are you doing with your lunch?” (Referring to the story of the feeding of the 5,000 — what came from one little boy’s lunch.) Keep praying and pondering about this and sharing.
HERE’S THE LINK TO THE SERMON ON TAMAR: LINK
Just listen to the Keller sermon called Tamar. We’ll go into it more next week. It is so rich, I want you to listen more than once. I’ll have questions next week, but post your comments here.
Saturday: What is your take-a-way and why?