Saturday, October 02, 2010

Judah Learns Tamar is Pregnant - Genesis 38:24

Now it was about three months later that Judah was informed, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the harlot, and behold, she is also with child by harlotry.” Then Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”

Let’s review the story so far. Judah’s eldest marries Tamar and then he dies leaving her childless. The second oldest brother refuses to do his duty and give her a child and he dies. Judah tells Tamar to go back to her father and wait for his third son to become of age, fearing that he too might die. Tamar is heartbroken and feels ill done by but does go to live with her family. Judah’s own wife eventually dies and Judah avails himself of someone he thought was a temple prostitute. When he sent a friend back to pay the prostitute with the young animal he had promised in exchange for the bond (his personal seal ring and his walking rod), she is nowhere to be found. We now pick up the story again.

Three months after his inability to retrieve his bond and complete the transaction as planned, Judah is informed that his daughter-in-law Tamar, a widow, living with her family, had played a prostitute and through that act became pregnant. In his fury, Judah immediately demands that she be “brought forth and be burned” presumably to death.

What’s the lesson? It has often been said that once we walk in another person’s shoes, we can better understand their predicament. We know, for example, that we can understand the mourning of those that have lost loved ones, if we ourselves have experienced such a loss. We understand war better if we have served in armed combat. And so on. Or taken to another plain, we know that we are not perfect. We know that only those without sin should be casting stones at those who have been caught in sin. And we know that people who live in glass houses should not be throwing stones at all. The list of expressions that can apply to some extent or another in Judah’s situation is endless.

There is no doubt he should have taken the time to think things out before he reacted so assertively. Many a series of questions in advance of a judgment would have been wise. Maybe a self-examination. In my role as President of a Mission organization for over eight years now, I find it much easier to understand and explain some of the decisions and actions of other Mission Presidents, church leaders, and even some government officials. I know how things happen and why sometimes those decisions are the best ones no matter what others think or what the media portrays.

On the other hand, at this very moment of writing, I am dealing with a matter in one of our churches, not against an ultimate decision that was made by the leadership, but rather the statements surrounding that decision – that is, where the two parties affected by the decision are saying diametrically opposed things were said and/or happened. The unwillingness of the leadership to deal with this difference openly and in love, rather than just maintain they are right, maintain they alone are telling the truth, and as leaders must automatically be trusted and not questioned, does nothing for that church but to divide it further. Some are opposed to those who seek the truth, claiming that we “should not touch God’s anointed” and any opposition is “the work of the Enemy”. Or, “please, for the sake of unity, let’s let this pass.” Nice thoughts but I am convinced that nothing in the Christian church should trump “truth” because He is Truth and Truth is what we are all about. Jesus would never compromise ‘truth’ for the sake of unity, or to protect one of His chosen twelve. Yes, the Enemy is involved, but only because we fail to operate as spiritual Christians. Otherwise, he would have no toehold. He is the father of lies and when he believes that lies have been uttered he moves right in and goes to town. We need to be careful not to blame the “truth seekers” just because they are raising the heat in the church.

So that is our first lesson from this single verse: when we hear of news that we do not like and feel should be addressed, take time to ask questions so you have all the information, take time to think, and then run the information through a self-examination. Finally, run it through Scripture.

The second lesson, as we will soon find out, is “be sure your sins will find you out” especially as you go after the sins of others. That does not mean you had better never have sinned. No. But it does mean you have dealt with that sin, you have made amends, you have changed your life. You have let God remold you and be available for God to use you again for His Kingdom. Then you move forward with the assurance that as you do what you are required to do, you are under His direction and protection – no matter what that will look like. I pray it will be so with you.

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