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Faithlife

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INRTO
Please open your Bibles to this morning. As you are turning there I want to ask you, have you ever read a section of Scripture and thought to yourself I wonder why this is even here at all? Today may be one of those days for you. The good news is that God Himself has a reason and a purpose for everything He says and does and in this chapter of scripture it is no different.
Please open your Bibles to this morning. As you are turning there I want to ask you, have you ever read a section of Scripture and thought to yourself I wonder why this is even here at all? Today may be one of those days for you. The good news is that God Himself has a reason and a purpose for everything He says and does and in this chapter of scripture it is no different.
I hope you have found the text we are going to use for today. Before we engage God’s Word let us pray to Him, please join me.
PRAYER
Please follow along with me as I read from .
TEXT
Genesis 38 ESV
1 It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua. He took her and went in to her, 3 and she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. 4 She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. 5 Yet again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah. Judah was in Chezib when she bore him. 6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house. 12 In the course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died. When Judah was comforted, he went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “If you give me a pledge, until you send it—” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19 Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood. 20 When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite to take back the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her. 21 And he asked the men of the place, “Where is the cult prostitute who was at Enaim at the roadside?” And they said, “No cult prostitute has been here.” 22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I have not found her. Also, the men of the place said, ‘No cult prostitute has been here.’ ” 23 And Judah replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, or we shall be laughed at. You see, I sent this young goat, and you did not find her.” 24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” 26 Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again. 27 When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.
SERMON BODY
So that is kind-of a strange text right! There sure is a lot going on in these 30 verses. I think this is one of those sections in scripture that we don’t often hear much about simply because of its content but I think that the context and content of this chapter really expose why God has given it to us. So lets get to it shall we.
Why do we switch gears like this here, why are we hearing about Judah?
We have just started talking about Joseph and for most of the rest of the book Joseph will be the focal point. Joseph has 11 other brothers we could talk about also so why Judah and again why now?
One reason we are talking about Judah is he is next in line of succession of the brothers of Joseph. Think about it with me, we have heard of the activities and character of Simeon and Levi when they sleighed their foes out of wrath claiming justice. We have heard as Israel did of the exploits of Reuben and how he stepped outside his bounds and acted sinfully with one of his fathers wives. An act that says that even the pagans do not tolerate! So naturally here we have Judah who seems to be following close to the heals of his other brothers.
Remember it was last chapter when Judah had the bright Idea to make a profit from Joseph rather then just slay him. No problem with either choice it seems for him yet at least he could make a buck this way. Now it seems that soon after as tells us Judah leaves his brothers and turns aside toward the Canaanite people.
As we just read from Judah’s track record is less then stellar. He leaves his family to pursue the things of the neighboring pagans. He falls in love with and marries an unbelieving woman. He raises some ungodly children. He does not uphold his word, in fact he seeks to actively deceive others. Behind closed doors, when he thinks no-one will know he engages in immoral sexual acts. Lastly, he then has the false sense of self-righteousness to judge others hypocritically, showing no mercy or grace.
Just a side note, is it not ironic that Judah the man who considers killing his brother goes to be with the people
Is there any hope for the sons of Israel? But before we judge Judah to harshly let me ask you also...
Have you ever left what you know to be right to pursue what you know to be wrong simply because it brings you pleasure?
Have you ever sought to deceive others to save face, to look better, to protect from loss, or simply out of pride?
Have you ever cast judgement on an individual or situation without knowing all the facts, thinking of yourself as more righteous then they?
Have you ever played the hypocrite?
The question is not just is their any hope for Israel or his sons; the question is, is there any hope for us?
Please turn to with me...
This is at the end of Jacobs life, he is about to die in Egypt and he is pronouncing his blessing on all of his children much like the other patriarchs did prior to him. Start in 1 and read with me...
Genesis 49:1–7 ESV
1 Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come. 2 “Assemble and listen, O sons of Jacob, listen to Israel your father. 3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. 4 Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch! 5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords. 6 Let my soul come not into their council; O my glory, be not joined to their company. For in their anger they killed men, and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel.
Given the track record of those three we would expect something similar with Judah because of his issues also. But look what he says about Judah...
Genesis 49:8–12 ESV
8 “Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. 9 Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? 10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. 11 Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes. 12 His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk.
Gen 49:8-12
Perhaps you are familiar with this section in Genesis and perhaps you are not. Even if you are do you not marvel at Jacob’s words here? The only other blessing that is comparable to this one that Jacob gives to his sons is the one he pronounces on Joseph.
Remember our first question...
Why do we switch gears like this here, why are we hearing about Judah?
This passage in brings me to our second question that will help us answer the first, which is,
Remember what Judah’s life was like? Turn back to with me...
Remember what Judah’s life was like? Turn back to with me...
Judah was a selfish, prideful man who feared social humiliation more then God’s righteous judgments; but he does not stay that way! Judah lied, cinived and schemed until the day that he was confronted with his sin.
Reuben, at least according to the text, never repented from his sin against Jacob. Simeon and Levi never repented from their sin against the people they destroyed. But read with me Judah’s response in .
Genesis 38:24–26 ESV
24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” 26 Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.
Gen 38:25-
This seems to be the turning point for Judah. Look how his character has changed as we encounter him later in , turn with me there now.
Joseph, being reconnected with his brothers sends them home to return with his youngest brother Benjamin. Judah is the one leading the men, Judah is the one who pledges the boys security. Observe as it says...
Genesis 43:8–9 ESV
8 And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. 9 I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.
As they are returning Joseph sets them up, he frames his brother Benjamin with theft, this means that Benjamin will be killed for his crime or at best enslaved never to return home again. Turn now and observe .
Genesis 44:16–34 ESV
16 And Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.” 17 But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.” 18 Then Judah went up to him and said, “Oh, my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not your anger burn against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father, or a brother?’ 20 And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age. His brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’ 21 Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’ 22 We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ 23 Then you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall not see my face again.’ 24 “When we went back to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. 25 And when our father said, ‘Go again, buy us a little food,’ 26 we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother goes with us, then we will go down. For we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27 Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One left me, and I said, “Surely he has been torn to pieces,” and I have never seen him since. 29 If you take this one also from me, and harm happens to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in evil to Sheol.’ 30 “Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, 31 as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. 32 For your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.’ 33 Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. 34 For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father.”
There it is! Do you see it!? Do you see the heart change of this man? Do you see his humility? His repentance? His confession? His sacrifice? His leadership? Is it any wonder Joseph responds the way he does in the next chapter ...
Genesis 45:1–2 ESV
1 Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it.
God does bless us when our hearts are softened to Him, when we live a life characterized by repentance and humility we will be exalted in His timing. Judah had a heart change! Judah repented! This answers our second question which if you remember was...
Why does Judah ever receive this blessing?
Judah receives this blessing because of his heart change, yes but it is even bigger then that!
Judah receives this blessing because of his heart change, yes, but it is even bigger then that! Judah receives this blessing simply because of God’s grace! Not by his righteousness but simply by the grace of God
With question 2 answered we can now answer question 1 which was
Why do we switch gears like this here, why are we hearing about Judah?
The answer to this question is because the story is bigger than Joseph. We take a sidetrack out of the story following Joseph to hear about Judah, because the overall story of scripture is bigger than both of them. Ultimately this story of Joseph is not about Joseph it’s about Jesus. Ultimately this chapter on Judah is not about Judah it’s about Jesus. Turn back now to and observe with me...
Genesis 38:27–30 ESV
27 When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.
Genesis 38:
We take the time out from Joseph to read of the birth of these two boys. These two boys being born out of the sinful acts of their parents. These two boys who will be preserved by the sinful act of their father and his brothers.
We take the time out of the story of Joseph to talk about Judah to see the birth of these boys because God’s story is not about Joseph alone, not about Judah alone not about these two boys alone but about Jesus!
So why is this strange section of scripture here? Why does the author leave Joseph in Egypt to tell this tale? Why did we cover it today? Because all of it points to Jesus!
For our last scripture reading today please turn now to the New Testament, to the gospel of Matthew chapter 1…
Before we read this
Matthew 1:1–16 ESV
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. 12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
Matthew 1:1-
You see Joseph is sold by Judah to preserve his line so that the Christ might come! Marvel oh sinner at the majestic grace of God! That we who are bound in Christ can say with confidence over every situation, every vile person, ever sickness, every despair, every hardship, every persecution just as Joseph did in that whatever and whenever the enemies of God seek to do evil, God will be faithful to use it for good!
Take a close look at this lineage of Jesus, read the names therein, study and observe their lives, their faults and failure. This then answers the final question we ask today which is...
How does all this apply to me?
Very simply beloved God is in the business of using the broken.

Luther asks why such things were placed in Scripture, and answers, (1) That no one should be self-righteous, and (2) that no one should despair, and (3) to remind us that Gentiles by natural right are brothers, mother, sisters to our Lord; the word of salvation is a word for the whole world.

Do not be self righteous
Have you ever left what you know to be right to pursue what you know to be wrong simply because it brings you pleasure?
Have you ever sought to deceive others to save face, to look better, to protect from loss, or simply out of pride?
Have you ever cast judgement on an individual or situation without knowing all the facts, thinking of yourself as more righteous then they?
Do not despair in your sin
Have you ever played the hypocrite?
Salvation is for all those that would take hold of it
The question is not just is their any hope for Israel or his sons; the question is, is there any hope for us?
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