When Matthew wrote his chapter on the genealogy of Christ, he made a point of emphasizing who Jesus came FOR - not just who he came FROM. There are many good, wholesome and awe inspiring women in the genealogy of Jesus, yet Matthew fails to mention many of them. However, he seems to make a point of and even draws attention to mentioning the ones who many would consider scandalous.
Jesus came and died for the least and the lost. He came for people of all races, economic means, jobs, backgrounds, etc. He came for the sad, the broken, the heartbroken, the divorced, the single, the motherless. Every story of every person is valuable. Every story of every person is redeemable. You story is NOT finished. Jesus is the defender of the weak and came to set captives free. That can include you.
Even though it may stir up some painful memories and emotions, try to enter into the life of Tamar this week and remember a time - perhaps it's even now - when you were betrayed, alone and vulnerable. This teaching series is not simply to have interesting topics for sermons. This series is about real life situations then, and they are real life situations now. As King Solomon says, “there is nothing new under the sun.” What does God have for you personally as you dig into some of the lives of women in the genealogy of Jesus? Do you have anything in common with Tamar?
MONDAY: Matthew 1:1-6: The genealogy of Jesus is a startling testimony to God’s power to overcome the sin of us humans. This is not a “pure” family tree, and Matthew seems to focus on making that clear. Yet through these imperfect people, God was able to preserve his promises and shape earthly events to prepare the way for the Messiah. In what ways have you departed from God’s will for you? How has God called you back? How do you see God working to keep you on track with his purposes and plans, even through your times of spiritual dryness and perceived distance from God?
TUESDAY: Genesis 38:1-9: As a reminder, Jacob had 12 sons (representing the tribes of Israel) and one of those son’s was Judah. Judah married and had three sons, one of which was Er. There were arranged marriages in that day and time, so Judah arranged for Er to marry Tamar. However, Er “was wicked in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord put him to death.” In that era, a woman married into a family and did not just a person, so Tamar was then given to Er’s brother, Onan. As verse 9 makes clear, Onan chose to experience the pleasure of having a wife, but not the responsibility, and he, too, was “put to death” by God. Has it ever occurred to you that the Lord chooses when to call a person to their heavenly home (see Psalm 139:16), perhaps to get them off the face of the earth? How do you feel as you think about that?
WEDNESDAY: Genesis 38:11: Judah decides his last son is too young to marry—and he probably was worried he might lose his last son to death. He basically dismissed Tamar from the family and did not take responsibility for her. He discarded her, took advantage of her misfortune and sent her away. In this day and time this was a very shameful thing to do to a woman, and it labeled Tamar as “damaged goods.” Our wicked hearts can often justify evil. As you consider this situation and how Judah must have rationalized and justified his actions, are you willing to ask the Lord to bring to mind any rationalizations you may be making in your life? Is the Lord asking you to confess to anyone other than just to himself?
THURSDAY: Genesis 38:12-16: After Judah’s wife died and he grieved, he went into town to sheer his sheep. Tamar heard of his upcoming arrival and decided to change from her grieving widow attire and dress as a prostitute. Judah ends up propositioning her - not realizing it is his own daughter in law. Tamar had no ability to move forward in her life because of the previous actions of Judah. Is there someone in your life at this time who might be frustrating you because they cannot seem to “move forward” in life in the way you might expect them to?
FRIDAY: Proverbs 22:22-24 & James 1:27: The Lord can and will “take up the case” and will “plunder” those who exploit the poor and needy. Our culture values the strong, independent and self sufficient, yet Jesus seems to have a very tender place for the underdogs in life. How do you treat people less fortunate than you? When YOU are in need, can you be vulnerable with the Lord? With others? How do you desire the Lord to take up a case for you right now? Pray honestly about your needs and desires to the one who knows your heart at the deepest levels.
SATURDAY: Genesis 38:17-27: Judah propositions the prostitute and offers a goat to be sent to her at a later time. Tamar accepts, but requires him to give a “security deposit”—his signet ring and staff. These items are Judah's very identity (similar to our drivers license or social security card) and he exchanged them for a few moments of pleasure with a prostitute, neverrealizing it is his daughter in law, Tamar. In three months, when Judah is told his daughter in law is pregnant, he commands she be executed for her immoral behavior. He thinks she has done what he is actually guilty of. As Tamar is led to her death, she lets people know she is pregnant by the owner of the items Judah gave her as payment. As a final twist to this amazing story, Tamar ultimately has twins who are in the lineage of Jesus. What about the way you pass judgment on others? Do you judge the very things you yourself are guilty of? The church and Christians are guilty of this and many people have given up on God and the church because of it. What is your attitude toward other believers, or toward non-believers? How might you pray for God to begin to rewrite your story from today forward?