Meditation: Genesis 38

Reading: Genesis 38

Tamar is an ancestor Jesus Christ; her name appears His genealogy in Matthew 1. How does this heathen women get such honour? This is what happened: Judah departs from his brothers, visits a heathen family and marries one of the family’s girls named Shua. This triggers a very sinful and disgraceful chain of events.  Judah and Shua have three sons Er, Onan and Shela. Two are very sinful; the Lord kills them. Tamar, who had first married Er and then Onan, is a widow. She then leads Judah astray and they have twin boys.


Later Judah returns to the family and repents. He receives a very rich blessing, which includes: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah” (Genesis 49:10). From Judah and Tamar (through their son Perez) will come a long line of kings, climaxing in Jesus Christ.


God planned that Jesus Christ’s ancestors include a heathen woman and a son born outside of marriage. Yesterday we learned that God builds and preserves his church by wonderful and unusual ways. Well, the story of Genesis 38, and its link to Matthew 1, is indeed very unusual,  yet part of God’s plan. God’s sovereign ways are not our ways. Isaiah 55:8-9 ‘ “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” We also learn that God’s blessings are given with much compassion, and by grace alone, because Judah did not deserve to receive such blessings. We learn about the humiliation of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus Christ “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” He publicly records that Tamar, a sinful heathen woman, and Judah, an adulterous man, are his ancestors. We would be ashamed and try to hide such ancestors. This humbles us. It also teaches us to follow God and his ways, even if they seem to make no sense to us. This is true faith. Later the apostle Paul exclaims “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).


Key text: Gen 38:1 “It came to pass at that time that Judah departed from his brothers”.


Question: Isaiah 55:8-9 is quoted above. Name some examples of God’s ways which are much higher than our ways. What do you learn from these examples?