Summary: Through the story of Perez, we learn how God loves to bring beauty out of our stupidity.
Have you ever traced your family tree back as far as you can? It’s interesting to find out where your ancestors came from and what they were like. That information may help explain why you are the way you are. During this Advent season we will take a look at Jesus’ genealogy and see what his ancestors can tell us about who he is and why he came. The first person we want to look at is Perez.
How many of you know who Perez is? Perez is the great, great, grandson of Abraham. To tell you the truth we really don’t know a whole lot about Perez other than the interesting circumstances of his birth. For the scoop let’s learn more about Perez’s father, Judah.
You may remember Judah in connection with the story of Joseph. Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, persuaded his brothers to sell Joseph into slavery instead of killing him. It doesn’t seem that Judah was motivated by love to do this but a desire to make some money off that troublesome brother of his. With that braggart Joseph gone, life should have been a breeze for Judah and his siblings. It wasn’t, of course. Dad never really got over Joseph’s disappearance. He continued to mourn his favorite son reminding the brothers daily of their callousness towards Joseph, and their sin of deception against their father whom they had told that Joseph had been mauled by wild animals. As if that wasn’t enough, Rueben, the one brother who had wanted to save Joseph, may have also continued to remind the others of how they should have listened to him and not harmed their brother. Perhaps this was just all too much for Judah so he left that home in Hebron and moved to Adullam.
Although Adullum was only sixteen kilometers away it was a world apart from the one Judah had grown up knowing. Judah was now living among the Canaanites - people who were renown for their putrid worship of Baal. These were folks who thought that sleeping with prostitutes was a great way to honor their gods. They also believed sacrificing children was an expression of spirituality. If Judah thought he could influence his new friends to worship the true God, he was mistaken. His new friends instead were a bad influence on him and his family. While in Adullam Judah married a Canaanite woman and had three sons. Judah’s first two sons, however, were so wicked that God put them to death!
There’s a warning here for us, don’t you think? Where we choose to live and with whom we choose to spend our time are decisions that Christians need to seriously ponder with their eternal future in mind – not just for their own sake but also for the sake of their family. In this day of global communication it’s easy to think that we can live anywhere we want to live because sermons and Bible studies are just a mouse click away. While that may be true, will the friends we make at our new location encourage us to pursue our study of God’s Word? Judah’s new friends certainly didn’t and Judah’s boys paid for it with their lives and souls.
Judah’s sons who had died weren’t boys; they were men who had both been married. Actually they had married the same woman, though not at the same time. You see the custom was if your older brother died before he could give his wife children, you were to marry that woman in an effort to keep your older brother’s family name going. This is how Tamar came to be married to two of Judah’s sons. After the second son died without giving Tamar any children, Judah promised her his third son when he was old enough to marry. Apparently this was not a promise Judah intended to keep. Perhaps he thought Tamar the “black widow” and didn’t want to lose another son by marrying him off to someone who seemed bad luck to his boys. Tamar of course had nothing to do with her first two husband’s deaths so when she saw that Judah didn’t intend to give her his third son to marry and have children, she took matters into her own hands so that she would not die childless.
One day when Judah went out to sheer his sheep he saw a veiled woman he took to be a prostitute. He propositioned her and slept with her – further proof of how Canaanite ways had rubbed off on Judah. To secure payment from Judah, the woman asked that he entrust to her his staff and seal as collateral. Judah handed over these items and went home. Soon after he sent the promised payment of a young goat but the woman could not be found. The matter was forgotten until three months later when word came to Judah that his daughter-in-law Tamar was pregnant. Since Judah had not married his third son off to her yet he concluded that Tamar was guilty of prostitution and ordered her brought before him to be burned. Before the fires could be lit, however, Tamar held out the staff and seal Judah had given to her three months earlier. Judah was dumbfounded and could only stammer that she was more righteous than he. You see Judah realized that he had been guilty of deception for withholding his son from Tamar. He also now confessed his sin of sexual immorality by sleeping with is daughter-in-law whom he had thought a prostitute. Six months later Tamar gave birth to twins. One of the twins was Perez.