More Righteous Than I Genesis 38:1-30
In chapter 38, we have the story of Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar. This is another one of those true and honest looks at the history of the Israelites. This story is not a sanitized version of the heroes of the faith but a faithful retelling of the events as they occurred in history. Last time we finished looking at chapter 37 which was the opening of this book of Jacob that we are looking at for the rest of Genesis. We saw the offspring of Jacob, the one chosen by God to carry on the promises that would counteract the curse. Joseph, the one whom Jacob had chosen to set his love and favor upon, was despised and mistreated by his brothers. His family hated the dreams that he had and were willing to do whatever it took to prevent them from coming true, even if it took murdering Joseph. Through the persuasiveness of the firstborn son Reuben and Judah who desired to make a profit off his brother, God saved Joseph and brought him into Egypt. God had promised to Abraham that his offspring would be sojourners in a land that was not theirs and would be servants there and they would be afflicted for four hundred years. At the end of chapter 37, the timer had begun. As we move into verse 38, we find a story about another of Jacob’s offspring, Judah. We know more about him already than we knew about Joseph. We have heard his words and seen his role at Shechem and with Joseph. He is very much like his other brothers and like his father when he was younger; his heart is very heavily consumed with self and not the well-being of others and not the ways of God. As I mentioned in a previous sermon, this story, though it might feel like a parenthesis in the story of Joseph, does belong here. It ties together the themes of Joseph’s rule and his sons to Judah’s rule and his sons. This prepares us for the later blessing of Jacob where we find out that Judah is the one to whom the promise of the offspring that would crush the head of the serpent would come. And finally, it belongs here in the story because, as Moses says, “It happened at that time.” Around the time that Joseph was sold into slavery, this story of Judah began. This story we have before us is ultimately about the grace of God. It is another piece in this puzzle we have been putting together. It started at the beginning when Satan, Adam, and Eve acted contrary to God and devised their own plans, but God had a different plan in mind. That theme has developed through the generations and will be trumpeted by Joseph when he says that his brothers intended evil, but God intended good. This sin of man and God’s using and changing sinners to bring about his plans has been on full display and will be seen in chapter 38 as well. We will see in verses 1-11 what Judah and his children do is wicked in the sight of the Lord. In verses, 12-23 we find Tamar’s trap of Judah and how this story of sin unfolds. And finally, we hear of Judah’s shame and God’s grace.