Grace From the Start: Day 9 {Dec. 3rd}

After Jacob wrestles with God and sees Him face to face he sees his brother face to face. 

The reunion he has with his brother is one of reconciliation and not death and rampage that Jacob was expecting.  It is a meeting and reconciliation that only Jesus could have worked out.  Instead of Esau killing the brother who stole everything from him here is what their reunion looks like.

“But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him andfell on his neck and kissed him, and wept.”

It is like the meeting of the son who wished his father was dead and his father after the son foolishly used his inheritance ran to embrace the prodigal son.{Luke 15:11-32}

It is like the meeting we will have when we see Jesus face to face.  He will not give us a list of all the wrongs we have done. He will embrace us and call us his own. We receive all of his blessings, his inheritance, and He received our punishment on the cross.

After meeting up with his brother Jacob travels to Bethel and God once again gives him the name Israel.  God changes his name from meaning ‘deceiver’ to ‘one who has strove with God and prevailed.’

Because of the work of Jesus on the cross and the great exchange of his blessings to us and our crap to Him our names also change.  Just like Jacob our name goes from deceiver to ‘one who has strove with God and prevailed’.  Obviously God could eliminate us instead of letting us win.  In his love for us he allows us to wrestle with Him and gives himself up, for us.

Both of Jacob’s parents die, he buries them, and settles in the land of Canaan.  In the‘land of his fathers sojourning.’

During this time Jacob’s boys have been growing.  Joseph, one of his sons he conceivedwith Rachel, begins having dreams.  Thesedreams indicate that Joseph will rule over his older brothers.  His brothers do not have time for this or thespecial treatment Joseph has received since birth.  They want to kill him.  Reuben prevents the murder from happening butagrees to throw him in a pit.  While theyare having lunch next to the pit they just threw their brother in travelerscome by.  The brothers agree it is betterto sell him into slavery than leaving him in a pit.  {Tomorrow we will get into this whole storybut this gives you a historical place for the story of Tamar}.

It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.  There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose namewas Shua. He took her and went in to her,  and she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er.  She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. Yet again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah.  Judah[a] was in Chezib when she bore him.

6And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.  But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight ofthe Lord, and the Lord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wifeand perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother.10 And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house.

12 In the course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died. When Judah was comforted, he went up to Timnah to his sheep shearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And whenTamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come into you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “If you give me a pledge, until you send it—” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19 Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.

20 When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite to take back the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her. 21 And he askedthe men of the place, “Where is the cult prostitute who was at Enaim at the roadside?” And they said, “No cult prostitute has been here.” 22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I have not found her. Also, the men of the place said, ‘No cult prostitute has been here.’” 23 And Judah replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, or we shall be laughed at. You see, I sent this young goat, and you did not find her.”

24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.”[d] And Judah said, “Bring her out,and let her be burned.” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” 26 Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.

27 When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb.28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.”29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez.[e] 30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name wascalled Zerah. 

{GENESIS 38}

This is one of those biblical stories that makeus go…WHAT?….  It is not one that can be cleaned up with bright colors and cartoonish characters to be put into a Sunday school pamphlet. 

Judah had a son whose name was Er.  He also had a son named Onan.  He found his son, Er a wife named Tamar.  Er was a wicked man and the Lord put him to death.  That leaves Tamar as a widow. 

In the days of Tamar and Judah there was no such thing as a welfare system or women entrepreneurs.  Women who did not have a husband to provide for her would be destitute and chances are living on the streets and in danger of starvation and prostitution.  It was the responsibility of Judah to ensure that Onan would take Tamar as his wife and have children with her.  Onan did not treat Onan as his wife.  She was treated like a prostitute, used for sexual gratification.  He insured that no children would come from their union. If Onan would have fulfilled his responsibility those children would be viewed as his brother, Er’s, and not his own. 

Judah failed in his responsibilities as a father in law to provide Tamar with another son when Onan failed her and was struck dead.  Judah casts her away and tells her to live as a widow with her family of origin.  Judah has another son yet fears for his life and does not give him to her in marriage.

Tamar is in a difficult place.  We could maybe even call it an impossible place. She dresses as a prostitute. Judah comes to her to use her ‘services’.  She conceives.  She is then able to prove he is the father b ythe items he left behind.

Sin is running rampant inthis story.  Er and Onan are both wicked in the eyes of the Lord.  Er was put to death by theLord.  Onan did not fufill his responsibilities to his sister-in-law to protect her, and Judah was not caring for his daughter-in-law and sleeping with prostitutes. 

In spite of all the sin, in spite of thedesperate situation Tamar find herself in God does not run from Her or her situation. 

We can see in this story that our sin does not scare God off.  He knows us.  He knows how deep our sin runs.  He already knows before we tell him.  Because of that we can tell him without fear.  He knows the desperate situations we find ourselves in.  We can let Him know how awful it is, He can and will handle your anger over the situation.  He will also handle and redeem your situation.  It may not be in ways we expect BUT He will. 

If you have a sin that you can not bear to confess hear this now.  God loves you.  God already knows.  God loves you.  It may be a healthy move to confess that sin to God and to someone who knows Jesus and just how BIG his love is.

In the midst of all this sin and desperate situations is where Jesus shows up. 

This story and these people show up in the genealogy of Jesus.  He makes these people His people.  He makes these situations His situations to redeem.  

The first book of Matthew gives us the ancestors of Jesus.  In Matthew chapter 1 verse 3 we find these people “and Judah the father of Perez and Serah by Tamar…..”  

Jesus does not run from sin He runs to it.  He does not run to sin because he wants to be near the sin.  He runs head on into sinto strip it from us and destroy that sin.  He runs head long into it to be near us.  He runs head on into it because of his love for us.   

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