The Inefficient Excuse of a Dark Past

One thing I love about living in the country is the dark nights. There are no streetlights illuminating my bedroom. Only the red numbers on my clock and a small sliver of nightlight squeezing through the cracked door of my kids bathroom, wrapping the corner towards mine. So the other night when I awoke in the three A.M. range to the sound of wind and rain, you can imagine my surprise when I could see no red numbers, and no sliver of nightlight.

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 38
Key Verse:  “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1:7

As is perfectly logical for anyone who awakes in the three A.M. hour and is thankfully a hard sleeper, I quickly assumed someone had taken my clock! But upon further investigation someone had also taken my man’s clock. And turned off the kiddos nightlight. But who in there right mind would want two clocks and a nightlight? So I made the next most logical conclusion (since I was obviously in my right mind) – I’d gone blind! I quickly put my hand in front of my face to calm my growing fear but alas I could not see it!

I sat there for a few seconds in hopes of regaining my sight and thankfully gained a little sense instead. I was not blind. The power was merely out. And as is the case when you live in the middle of a field, and every little light from every device in your house has no electricity surging through it, it was dark. And I mean DARK.

Kind of like Genesis 38 which exuuuudes darkness in a #mansheartisblackwithsin kind of way. It follows the life of Judah. The progenitor of the messianic line. I’m not sure when I realized it. (Older than I probably want to admit.) But because of the number of chapters dedicated to Joseph and the excellency of his story, for many years I assumed the line of Christ came through him. You know – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. Makes perfect sense right? But it did not. That blessing was actually handed to Judah.

Who by default was set to inherit the firstborn blessing (thus the promises associated with the Abrahamic covenant) because his three older brothers disqualified themselves by either having sex with one of Jacob’s concubines or committing genocide.

But Judah cared little for the firstborn blessing, based on the fact he married a Canaanite woman. His little lady conceived and gave birth to three boys – Er, Onan, and Shelah. When Er was old enough Judah gave him a Canaanite wife named Tamar. Which meant Judah’s half-Canaanite son Er and his Canaanite wife were all set to carry on the ever important Hebrew line of heritage Christ was to come through. (Not good.)

“But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD,” (v.7) so God put him to death. Since Er and Tamar had no children, it was the duty of the next brother (Onan) to father a child on behalf of his dead brother. That son would then be the legal heir to all firstborn privileges. But Onan didn’t exactly like that idea. He wanted those privileges for himself. So after pleasuring himself with Tamar he would spill his semen on the floor. Obviously a classy guy – so God killed him too.

Certain the death of his first two sons was Tamar’s fault, and not wanting to lose a third, Judah tells Tamar to go home to her daddy and wait until his third son is old enough to marry. But Judah had no intention of giving Shelah to Tamar. Which meant Judah might not have any heir! Just a small problem if the covenant promises are supposed to be passed through you to the next generation.

Here’s where I wish I could sit down and have a little chat with Tamar. Did she know of the promises? Did she risk her life for an heir? Or just because she wanted a baby? This poor woman, twice widowed and not getting any younger, found herself in a desperate situation. Upon hearing that Judah’s wife had died, she dressed as a temple prostitute, and waited for Judah to come to Timnah to shear his sheep.

The fact that Tamar knew he’d be lookin’ for lovin’ speaks volumes about Judah. As expected he approached “the harlot” offering a goat in exchange for her services. Yet he had no goat with him so Judah handed over his signet, cord, and staff as a pledge. Essentially he gave her his wallet. (Dumb)

After three months when Tamar could no longer hide her growing belly, it was told to Judah that Tamar had been unfaithful. To which he replied, “Let her be burned” (v. 24). (Because how dare she! He’d never do anything like that!) Now just picture this with me – “As she was being brought out, [to be burned, mind you] she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant” (v.25).

Bam! Any idea whose wallet this is Judah? Knowing the gig was up, Judah makes one of the best confessions in the history of confessions, “She is more righteous than I” (v. 26).

Well said Judah, well said. Yet God used this man. Even gave him honorable mention in one of Christ’s own titles: Lion of the Tribe of Judah. No way Judah deserved that!

Listen friend, an imperfect past doesn’t disqualify you. But NOT trusting in Jesus’ perfect past will. It’s only because of Christ that any of us are going to heaven. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).

No matter how dark the story, when you confess the inefficiency of your own righteousness, Jesus will cover you with his. 

Contemplate and Evaluate
Have you let your past disqualify you from serving God? Do you feel as though you are unworthy of God’s grace and forgiveness? Don’t let the devil deceive you. We are all unworthy. Christ is the only reason any of us have merit. That’s why it’s called the good news of Jesus Christ. Who in your life needs to hear it this week?


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