Summary: The Nature of Sin - and our Saviour, as illustrated by the story of Tamar & Judah
Title: An X-Rated Sermon: Tamar and the men in her life.
Text: Genesis 38
CIT: Selfishness is the root underlying sexual sin; turnabout is fair play.
Thesis: Sin exposes a motive and extorts an unexpectedly high cost, but in spite of this, Jesus makes the exchange for us that we need.
FCF: In spite of our sin, God is willing to pay the price we ought to bear.
Specific Objective: I want the audience to think about the rationality and irrationality of their sin – to realize that sin is not some devil with a pitchfork, but it isn’t really a good deal either.
Before I begin tonight, I need to warn you that I intend on giving you an X-Rated Sermon.
Teaser: Bible is X-Rated
My text is going to be Genesis 38, and the truth is, there are a lot of stories in the Bible that aren’t exactly G-rated. You probably know about Sodom and Gommorah. You may have heard about the rape of Dinah.
There’s a whole book of the Bible, Song of Solomon, that was considered so scandalous because of its sexual imagery that the Pharisees wouldn’t allow anyone under 30 to read it, and the Spanish Crown executed the man who first translated that book, because they thought it was too risqué.
There’s even X-rated stuff in the Bible that we have unwiitingly put into the Sunday School Curriculum. When the children of Israel were back from Egypt spying out the land, have you ever wondered why they were spending the night at Rahab’s local brothel? The Bible says flat out, she’s a prostitute, and these guys just happen to be at her house, at night, when the guards of the city are looking for them. Totally innocent, right? You might have even read the story of Ruth – but I’m going to tell you something you may not have known about Ruth. Remember that part where it says that Ruth uncovered Boaz’s feet? Let me tell you, sometimes when the Old Testament talks about feet, it ain’t always talkin’ about feet!
In short, there are a lot of stories of the Bible that aren’t necessarily meant for children. And that’s ok – because the Bible is a grown up book. It isn’t all candy and milk – there’s a lot for the grown up mind, and frankly, we as adults need to learn to approach the Bible in a grown up way. You may want to keep Paul’s exhortation in mind when you listen. He says “When I was a child, I thought as a child, and I spoke as child, but when I became I man, I put away childish things.”
Grow up about sin!
But, I don’t want to mislead you either – this story, while highly sexual, is not about sex. This story is really more about the hidden costs and motives of sin, and in order to think as a man, I’m going to warn you – don’t get hung up the sex. I think little kids who do peruse this story before they’re ready will giggle and snicker at what’s going on – but if they stop there, they will miss out on what’s really happening.
The Three Xs
o Exposes a Motive
o Extorts an Exorbitant Price
o Requires an Exchange
Indeed, this sermon is really about sin, and sin can be a filthy, disgusting thing. The sin content of this sermon is what is going to make it X-Rated much more than the sin. I’d also like you to remember what is going on by remembering some Xs. First, we’re going to see that sin always exposes a underlying heart condition. The motive it exposes is often the real story. Next, we’re going to see that sin always extorts a higher price than you ever think it will. Finally, I’m going to talk about an exchange that sin requires. So, at the risk of being a bit cutsey, you can remember those three Xs- exposing a heart, extorting a high price, and requiring an exchange.
Like I suggested at first, the sex in this story is a red herring – and I’d even suggest throughout the Bible this is the case. I want you to see, for instance, in the first part of this story what I mean with a guy named Onan. Just to give you some context – remember Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jospeh? Well, this is Jacob’s boy. We’re actually in the middle of Jospeh’s story – right after Joseph has been sold into slavery, we take a little break to see what’s going on back home.
Let me read to you vs. 1 – 10 .
It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and settled near a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah. 2There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; he married her and went in to her. 3She conceived and bore a son; and he named him Er. 4Again she conceived and bore a son whom she named Onan. 5Yet again she bore a son, and she named him Shelah. She was in Chezib when she bore him. 6Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn; her name was Tamar. 7But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD put him to death. 8Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her; raise up offspring for your brother.”