Friday, October 01, 2010

Judah Tries But Cannot Pay the Harlot - Genesis 38:20-23

When Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her. And he asked the men of her place, saying, “Where is the temple prostitute who was by the road at Enaim?” But they said, “There has been no temple prostitute here.” So he returned to Judah, and said, “I did not find her; and furthermore, the men of the place said, ‘There has been no temple prostitute here.’” Then Judah said, “Let her keep them, lest we become a laughingstock. After all, I sent this kid, but you did not find her.”

You will remember that Judah left some personal belongings with someone he thought was a prostitute until he could send her the young goat he promised for payment in exchange for her sexual services. He sends his friend the Adullamite with the animal to find her, to compete the deal, and get his personal things back. Having no success in locating her, his friend makes several enquiries as to where he could find the “temple prostitute that was by the road at Enaim”. To his surprise, he is informed that there had never been such a person and he returns to tell Judah.

Judah appears frustrated at the news, but decides to let the matter go lest in any further attempts to find her, he becomes a laughing-stock. He absolves himself of any guilt in the matter by rationalizing that he made a reasonable effort to fulfill his share of the bargain but was unable to. The prostitute could keep Judah’s personal belongings.

As I studied these four verses I struggled as to what possible lesson God might have in this portion of scripture for us. Here are some thoughts:

First, as honorably as we may try to behave after some inappropriate action we have taken in order to ensure that we keep our part of any arrangement, we cannot expect God and others to cooperate fully. I am reminded of my grandchildren. One hits the other after being told not to, and is sent to her room for a “time out”. On her way upstairs, with tears running down her face, she cries out, “but I said I’m sorry!” There is often a consequence that still needs to be experienced.

Second, Judah was smart enough to know when to cut his losses. There is a time in the course of events after we have sinned to just stop trying to justify ourselves. We must leave the matter to God. Even if there are later consequences to be faced, it is best to face them with God rather than without Him.

Third, when we leave something behind as evidence of our sin as Judah did by leaving his personal things with Tamar his daughter-in-law whom he mistook for a prostitute, as inevitably there always is something left behind, we need to realize that this will always serve as a reminder of our sin. We need to learn how to best utilize that reminder to live a more godly and spirit-filled life acceptable to our Creator. Judah did not know what was ahead for him, but I am convinced he was always conscious of the fact that someone had evidence of what he had done. That is often the case with us. We may have sinned; asked forgiveness from those involved; and even received it. But there is always the knowledge that we did sin and that from the world’s perspective, not God’s, that sin may still have its consequences. It is in that realization that we must be fully dependent on our God to see us through. It is in that realization that we must realize that we are indeed at his mercy, not because He may want to punish us when we next step out of line, but because sin, even forgiven sin, has consequences. It is in that realization that only His grace can see us through whatever lies ahead.

Whatever your history or your current situation may be, realize that God hates sin but He loves you. You can be forgiven by Him of any sin you have committed if you ask and have accepted His gift of a personal relationship with Him and of salvation for eternity. And then, no matter what lies ahead, you can be assured of His carrying you through it. I pray you will know the peace He alone can give you today and live with the assurance of being His responsibility going forward, as you fellowship with Him.

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