We just finished a Bible study on Genesis this semester. The one we used was 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 and yet Judah was the one God used to bring His Son to earth.
Why didn’t God pick Joseph or even Benjamin? Joseph is the one who was mistreated by his brothers but forgave them and was used by God to save the nation during a time of great famine. He is the one who responded well and continued to trust God even when falsely accused and left rotting in an Egyptian prison.
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 for profit. In Gen. 38:1-2 it tells how Judah left the family to go live with his buddy Hirah the Adullamite. Then he married a pagan Canaanite woman and had 3 sons. It says in Gen. 38:7 &10 that two of the sons were so evil that God struck them dead. (This is probably not an indication of good parenting on Judah’s part!) Gen. 38:11 says Judah had no intention of giving his youngest son to the surviving widow of the eldest, Tamar. This is further sin and selfishness 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 had done this kind of carousing before. 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. There isn’t a whole lot 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 and says “the scepter will not depart from Judah” (Gen. 49:10). There must have been an obvious change, resulting from repentance.
Matthew 1 and Hebrews 7:14 state clearly 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:
- Because God is God and His ways are above our ways. We cannot question nor understand His purposes.
“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
- His ways are always best. Deuteronomy 32:4 describes God as “the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”
- God values repentance. “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.
- God often chooses the weak, the sinful, the flawed to accomplish His purposes. One example: the apostle Paul, self-righteous killer of innocent Christians. Another good example is the wicked slave trader John Newton who became a powerful minister of the gospel and wrote Amazing Grace. There are countless stories of great men and women of God who were miserable sinners transformed by the gospel. It demonstrates His great power and glory.
“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? The answer is a resounding YES! His ways are perfect, He is faithful and true. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, compassionate and gracious. Let’s run to our Father and trust Him!