Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.
This Advent as I ponder the candle of hope… and look at the ancestors of Christ… it was not my original intent to share of the female ancestry, but it seems I keep going there. So far we have looked at Ruth and Eve. This morning when I pondered who I would study, my mind went to Tamar. Since this seems to be the pattern that God is setting in my heart… the rest of the week we will continue to look at hope through the lives of the women in the lineage of Christ.
The story of Judah is a twisted one. One of the most mind-blowing, yet at the same time relief-giving realizations in the Scriptures is the fact that God works His redemption plan through the lives of some desperately wicked people. God doesn’t hide their sickness. He lets us plainly see the incurable nature of their sin and the effects of its disease within us and how it affects others as well.
We are all Enosh… incurable, desperately sick, desperately wicked… we all need a Savior.
Judah was no different… neither was the woman we will look at today- Tamar.
When ever in the Scriptures, God says something like, their name was… I encourage you to take the time to look up the meaning of that name. There is a reason God recorded it and protected it for thousands of years.
When I looked up Tamar this morning I learned that in the Hebrew her name means palm tree. I read that and I thought, well okay… palm tree. Hmmmmm…. what on earth does that mean? So, I researched palm trees and what I learned made me go, Oooooh, PALM TREE!
Yes, I love wikipedia… so to wikipedia we go. Here is some information on palm trees. I have put in bold the information that made me go, Ooooooh PALM TREE!:
The Arecaceae are a botanical family of perennial lianas, shrubs, and trees commonly known as palms. (Due to historical usage, the family is alternatively called Palmae or Palmaceae.) They are flowering plants, the only family in the monocot order Arecales.
Most palms are distinguished by their large, compound, evergreen leaves arranged at the top of an unbranched stem. However, many palms are exceptions, and in fact exhibit an enormous diversity in physical characteristics. As well as being morphologically diverse, palms also inhabit nearly every type of habitat within their range, from rainforests to deserts.
Palms are among the best known and most extensively cultivated plant families. They have been important to humans throughout much of history. Many common products and foods are derived from palms, and palms are also widely used in landscaping for their exotic appearance, making them one of the most economically important plants. In many historical cultures, palms were symbols for such ideas as victory, peace, and fertility.
Whether as shrubs, trees, or vines, palms have two methods of growth: solitary or clustered. The common representation is that of a solitary shoot ending in a crown of leaves. This monopodial character may be exhibited by prostrate, trunkless, and trunk-forming members. Some common palms restricted to solitary growth include Washingtonia and Roystonea. Palms may instead grow in sparse though dense clusters. The trunk develops an axillary bud at a leaf node, usually near the base, from which a new shoot emerges. The new shoot, in turn, produces an axillary bud and a clustering habit results. Exclusively sympodial genera include many of the rattans, Guihaia, and Rhapis. Several palm genera have both solitary and clustering members. Palms which are usually solitary may grow in clusters, and vice versa. These aberrations suggest the habit operates on a single gene.
What I love about our God is His attention always to detail.
You see Judah’s son would be the appointed line of the Messiah…
Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
However God had specifically chosen not only Judah’s son… but that this son would be born from the womb of Tamar. God chose Judah, but He had also chosen Tamar, just as He had chosen Sarah, just as He had chosen Rebekah.
The deceitfulness of man will never stop the purpose of God.
Judah’s sons were wicked, yet Judah was convinced Tamar was the curse. Judah then showed his own wickedness as he took this “prostitute” and then, when he discovered Tamar pregnant from doing the very same thing he had done, he was ready to stone her…
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”
Tamar sent strong convicting evidence, of the one by whom she had conceived, to Judah. When Tamar presented the proof of the one whose child she carried… Judah was in a pickle.
He could still stone her to not expose his own sin, to save his own face, but to kill her, he would have to kill his own child… Judah instead humbled himself, admitted his own hypocrisy, and lifted Tamar up, and brought her home.
But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Judah forgave her and dropped his stone out of mutual guilt, and not just that, but he also took Tamar’s sin upon himself. What she did was not right, she had still committed adultery, and with her father-in-law, which would be condemned in writing when the Law would be recorded by the hand of Moses on the top of Mount Sinai. Yet Judah, knew that what she did, was a result of his own sin against her. He was supposed to protect her and provide for her, but he had forsaken her.
Judah forgives her and she him and they are reconciled and Perez, one of the twins that would be born to them, would have a son, who would have a son, who would one day be married to a girl who would have a son, who would forgive, not out of mutual guilt but out of abundant mercy and grace.
and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
When Judah brought Tamar home, he did not bring her home to be his wife… but to be the mother of their son. Forgiveness and reconciliation is only complete when followed by, go and sin no more…
And he did not have relations with her again.
Had Judah taken Tamar as a wife, then the whole redemptive picture of this moment would be maligned. It would now become a sick perverted twisted modern day American sitcom, but that is not what this moment in time in the lives of Judah and Tamar, in the lineage of our Christ, was about… not at all.
If we read this picture, and others recorded for us in the Scriptures, of our human failures and yet God’s unrelenting faithfulness, and see in it permission to sin… we are blind. Blind to the beauty of the grace of God. Blind to the cost of the blood that flowed willingly from the side of a man who cried, Father forgive them they no not what they do…
Blind to the One who is our HOPE.
The One born from Judah and woman named Tamar… the One who hung on a tree for us. The One who stems from the Only Unbranched Stem of God, the One who would build a church that would exhibit an enormous diversity in physical characteristics and would inhabit nearly every type of habitat within their range, from rainforests to deserts. The One who would be the firstborn of the best known and most extensively cultivated family on earth important to humans throughout much, no all, of history. The One who would not just be symbols for such ideas as victory, peace, and fertility but would be our Victory, our Peace, and our Eternal Life! The One’s whose family operates on a single gene. The seed of God!
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.