Last year our Women’s Ministry group did an excellent study on the book of Genesis. We used “The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis” by Nancy Guthrie, which I highly recommend. Here’s something that jumped out at me anew from these familiar stories.
THE LINEAGE OF JESUS THE MESSIAH CAME THROUGH JACOB’S SON JUDAH. THERE WERE 12 SONS BUT JUDAH WAS THE ONE GOD USED TO BRING HIS SON TO EARTH.
Why didn’t God pick Joseph? Joseph is the one who was mistreated by his brothers and sold into slavery. Joseph is the one who forgave them and was used by God to save the nation during a time of famine. He is the one who responded well and continued to trust God even when falsely accused and left rotting in an Egyptian prison.
Joseph was far superior to Judah. He seemed to be the best choice.
Let’s review Judah’s life:
In Genesis 37:26 he is the ringleader of the plot to kill Joseph. Then he sees an opportunity for financial gain and suggests they sell him into slavery instead. Genesis 38:1-2 tells how Judah leaves the family to go live with his buddy Hirah the Adullamite. Judah abandons his clan and resides in a land of pagans.
He married a Canaanite woman from this area and had 3 sons. Genesis 38:7 &10 states that two of the sons were so evil that God struck them dead. (This is probably not evidence of good parenting on Judah’s part!) Gen. 38:11 says Judah had no intention of giving his youngest son to Tamar, the surviving widow of the eldest (which was what Jewish law required). Here is further sin from Judah.
After his wife dies, Judah goes out on the town to the sheep shearing festival with his old pal Hirah. There he solicits a prostitute (Gen. 38:16), not knowing she’s his daughter-in-law! We can safely assume that Judah and Hirah regularly engaged in this kind of carousing. But when Tamar is found to be pregnant, he climbs on his self-righteous high horse and demands that she be taken out publicly and killed (Gen.38:24). What hypocrisy! Fortunately she had proof that the father of her child was, in fact, her father-in-law Judah.
In Genesis 38:26, Judah recognizes his sin and admits, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” From this point on we see a different Judah. Perhaps being caught in blatant sin produced a penitent heart. There isn’t much more mentioned about him, but when the brothers go down to Egypt to obtain food from Joseph, he plays a leading role in providing for and protecting the family (Gen. 43:8, 44:16, 44:18, 46:28).
In his later years, Jacob blesses each of his sons and in Genesis 49 he bestows the highest blessing on Judah: “the scepter will not depart from Judah” (Gen. 49:10). There must have been an obvious change in Judah’s life, resulting from repentance.
Matthew 1 and Hebrews 7:14 clearly state that Jesus is descended through the line of Judah and one of the twins he fathered with Tamar, his daughter-in-law. In Revelation 5:5 Jesus, the Lamb of God, is described as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah.” Why would God use this sinful man and a deceitful, distasteful act to bring about the line of His Son?
Here are my thoughts:
Reason #1: Because God is God and His ways are above our ways. His ways are always best, even when they don’t seem to make sense to us.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him. If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, What are you doing? Job 9:11-12
Reason #2: God values repentance. Humility is a trait He values in His children. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” Isaiah 66:2 Also Psalm 51:17: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Reason #3: God often chooses the weak, the sinful, the flawed, to accomplish His purposes. One example: the apostle Paul, self-righteous Pharisee and killer of innocent Christians. Another is the wicked slave trader John Newton who wrote Amazing Grace. There are countless stories of great men and women of God who were miserable sinners transformed radically. It demonstrates God’s great mercy and power.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Cor. 4:7
In light of these things, can we trust God to do what’s best in and for us?