Bible Readings for February 5th
Because Jacob was renamed Israel after wrestling with God in Genesis 32:28, the sons of Israel then served as the heads of the tribes of Israel. And of all the tribes in Israel, the tribe of Judah (named after the man whom we read about in Genesis 38) will end up playing an unusually important role in the history of God’s redemptive plan in this world.
For example, by the end of Genesis, we will learn that Judah is the tribe from whom kings will come, since Jacob will prophesy on his deathbed that “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” (Gen. 49:10). That prophecy will come to pass when the prophet Samuel anoints a new king over Israel named David, a young boy from the tribe of Judah (1 Sam. 16). After David reigns for awhile, God will swear that the kingdom of David would never pass away, saying this to David: “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:16).
But ultimately, the Lord Jesus Christ is born into the tribe of Judah as a direct descendent to King David himself. When God promised that David’s kingdom would stand forever, he fulfilled that promise by establishing the son of David, Jesus Christ, as the King of kings who will reign forever. In fact, one of the special titles Jesus holds is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5).
With this in mind, however, it is strange to read the account of Judah that we are given in Genesis 38. While we might think that Judah would be an upstanding, strong, righteous man in the sight of the Lord, we instead read about a scoundrel. After both of Judah’s sons die because of their wickedness, Judah ends up hiring his widowed daughter-in-law Tamar as a prostitute. Then, when Judah finds out that Tamar is pregnant, he demands that she be burned alive as punishment for her immorality until Tamar proves that Judah is the father of her child.
So this is the man from whom God would one day raise up King David, and eventually Jesus himself? This is the man who would be pivotal in the salvation of the human race according to God’s plan of redemption?
As we will see later in the book of Genesis, Judah’s story doesn’t end here—he will mature in significant, surprising ways. But even so, the purpose of Genesis 38 is to demonstrate that God would not save the world through pristine people but through broken, miserable sinners.
And if God could save the world through the offspring of a man like Judah, then God can save men and women like you and me.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.