15When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.” (Genesis 38:15-16, The Jesus Bible)
Happy Wednesday family! Buckle up, because this post is going to be a doozy. I have been working on this post for over a week. About eight days ago, I read Chapter 38 from the Book of Genesis. Chapter 38 is the story of Judah, one of the 12 sons of Israel, and his daughter-in-law, Tamar. I am currently reading The Jesus Bible to SGZ3, which I had done with SGZ1. It is a good way to “talk” to the baby while reintroducing myself to these stories of old. Well, it is taking me much longer than expected and I doubt I will be able to finish the entire Bible (from cover-to-cover) in one year, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I have reached the start of “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat,” one of the greatest stories of triumph in the Old Testament and a glimpse of the way God works things for the glory of those who love Him. Just as Joseph’s story begins and he is sold to slavery to the Egyptians, the very next story is the tale of Tamar, who tricks Judah, her Father-in-law into sleeping with her, by dressing like a prostitute. Quite the odd story to have in the Old Testament. I was trying to find the deeper meaning in this story, one of the oldest in the Bible, one that was studied and taught in Synagogues for thousands of years. Here is the birth of the Tribe of Judah, the lineage of King David, all the way down to Joseph, the other Joseph, the Earthly-Father-of-Jesus-Joseph.
Looking past the fact that Tamar knew that her Father-in-law would be so easily willing to pick up a prostitute waiting at the “shrine”, and ignoring the incest evils of seeking to carry the line of Judah through her dead husband’s Father (Tamar had been married to Judah’s oldest son), I believed there was some greater meaning to this story. I challenged myself to be more like my mentor, Pastor Skye Jethani, who is always challenged by Phil Vischer on the Holy Post to make impromptu “sermon illustrations” out of random news around the world. I wanted to do the same for this story. What sermon illustration could I pull out of Genesis Chapter 38? So I prayed to God to reveal the truth of Tamar’s story to me. And God did.
I am sure I have told y’all before that we volunteer in our local church’s Kid’s Ministry, specifically, the four-to-five-year-old class. It is an interesting age group. Some of the kids are well behaved, some of them have been running wild their whole life and have yet to start school, so they do not know how to behave in a classroom setting. Each age group has a “Room Leader” and then “Small-group leaders”. Our Room Leader likes to give each Small-group leader (which is what I am) the same group of kiddos every week so you can learn their quirks and how to reach them, and to better form a relationship with them. Well, I do not know what had gotten into the boys last Sunday, but they were wild. I had to draw a line in the sand with them early on (and I would have to kick my first kid out of class due to his behavior, but that is a different story on a different day). How the Kid’s program works is that the children come in and play for ten minutes, then we move to a different classroom for “Large Group”. At large group, they dance, watch a video, then move back to the original room for “Small Group”, where we do activities and talk about the message of the video and the Bible story. During large group, one of my better kids had snuck a play toy baking pan out of the class room during clean-up time. I discovered him having it and showing it off to the other boys. I went over to talk to him about what he had done wrong.
Looking past the fact that this little boy technically stole something from the room. Ignoring the fact that he was creating a distraction from the other boys after I specifically warned the boys about being a distraction to other children (in large group we also have the three-to-four-year-olds in the same room). I spoke to the boys around him about how we do not take things out of the room, and we do not hide them in our clothing to deceive the adults. And I saw the truth in Tamar’s story: that God can even take the evil things we do, the sin in our lives and turn them into something good. From the sin of Tamar having sex with Judah, the line of King David was born. From the simple sin of a young boy sneaking a toy into another classroom, I was able to speak to these kids about right and wrong that I would not have had the opportunity to do without the original wrong being committed. And the most important aspect of this story is highlighted in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus validates the stories of the Old Testament. Without Jesus, some of these stories are just strange and out-of-place. But they are part of the WHOLE story, which you can only see if you read the WHOLE Bible.
So I had my sermon illustration on Sunday, but God was not done with this message yet. Pastor Steven Furtick, even though he does not specifically state Genesis Chapter 38, in his powerful message from this past Sunday, he speaks about how his oldest son is reading through the entire Bible one chapter a day. His son, Elijah, tells Pastor Furtick about a “really weird” chapter in Genesis, one that comes later in the book. Well, Tamar’s chapter is the only “really weird” chapter in the later part of Genesis, as the book ends with the magical story of Joseph and Pharoah. If you want to see the truth Pastor Furtick finds in the weirdness of the Bible, click the image below and be blessed.
There has been a lot of great new Christian Music released in the last two weeks. I have had Hillsong United, Cochren & Co., and tylerhateslife’s new albums on repeat since they came out two weeks ago. Those are great new additions if you want some amazing new worship music; some energetic, fun contemporary songs; and some fresh Christian hip-hop set of tracks. This past Friday had a handful of great singles, which I will share more of tomorrow. Here’s a little taste from Gateway Worship with the help of Josh Baldwin.