Genesis 38 is one of the saddest portions of Scripture. This is because it deals with one of the sorriest men in Scripture – Judah.
Judah is one whose life is characterized by sin and self-righteousness. He is both corrupt and convinced that he is not that wicked. Consider his list of known transgressions:
- He hates Joseph because of God’s vision and preference.
- He conspires with his brothers to murder Joseph.
- He presents the idea of selling his brother into slavery.
- He partners with his brothers in lying to their father.
- He grows weary of the church and moves away from the covenant community.
- He becomes close friends with Yahweh despisers.
- He follows the leadership of Uncle Esau and marries a Hittite woman.
- He encourages his children to marry foreign idolatrous women; he acquires such wives for them.
- He parents children who are so wicked that God targets them for personal destruction. (i.e. Sodom & Gommorah)
- He makes and breaks promises to help his daughter-in-law secure a husband.
- He is known as a man who would fall prey to a road-side prostitute; he does so.
He is one born in the covenant community. He is one acquainted with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yet, he is one with despicable character, and his greatest transgression is not yet listed.
- He encourages the burning of Tamar due to her sexual indiscretions, when he is the one who impregnated this woman.
However, this is not the end of Judah’s story. Like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Judah repented. He confessed his sin, protected Tamar, and is later found ready to give his life as a substitute in order to save his family. He makes progress from a philandering, self-righteous hypocrite to a repentant patriarch in the church. Ultimately, it will be through his line that the True Human Substitute – Jesus Christ – comes forth.
Friends, let us not be disenchanted with the church. There have always been sordid individuals hiding within the pews. Such will be the case until the final gleaning takes place by Christ.
Let us not leave the church, for the consequences of such a decision will be horrific for us and our children. With our family, we need to be found regularly in the midst of our Christian brothers. Great benefit is found for the family who worship, wash, dine, learn, pray, and sing together. Come back before further damage is done.
Let us be careful in our judgment and discipline. This is true for leaders in the home, church and academic institution. There are few things worse than a pharisaical hypocrite. When we confront, may it be in humility, love and grace. May we be slow to cast the first stone. In order to be a righteous disciplinarian, we must first take care of the sin that remains within. When we do so, it will make us much less likely to strike the first match.