Summary: We see how God will have his way, even through the sinful schemes and foolish ways of his creatures.
• Authority of Scripture- "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God ma be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16).
Application: we must listen, understand and obey all of it, not just the easy bits!
• Context of Genesis- Creation, Adam & Fall, Noah & Flood, Tower of Babel, Abraham & God’s promise of future hope, Isaac, Jacob & his twelve sons, Joseph.
Application: it helps our interpretation of the Bible to understand what has happened before the passage we’re reading.
• Joseph main man- why Judah? Joseph a type of Christ in that he was raised up to save his people, sold for pieces of silver, falsely accused and punished though innocent, finally to the benefit of men by interpreting dreams and making provision for the famine.
Judah’s only recommendation thus far is that he agreed with his older brother Reuben not to kill Joseph, but his was only so he could sell him to the Ishmaelites (37:27). Ironic: Judah sold the Christ-like Joseph; the Judah-like Judas sold the son of Judah (Jesus)! Therefore, not a particularly nice character!
So why stick a passage about Judah in the middle of the Joseph narrative? "This chapter vividly contrasts the immoral character of Judah with the moral character of Joseph" (Life Application Bible).
"As a rude interruption of the Joseph story it...creates suspense for the reader, with Joseph’s future in the balance; it puts the faith and chastity of Joseph, soon to be described, in a context which sets off their rarity and it fills out the portrait of the effective leader [Judah] among the ten brothers" (Derek Kidner).
Application: God chooses unsavoury characters like Judah as well as sweet people like Joseph to fulfil his purposes. This means He may even use you or me to do His divine will!
• Three points- 1. Tamar’s curse, 2. Tamar’s cunning plan, 3. Tamar’s blessing.
1. The curse of Tamar? (vs 1-11)
Astonishing marks of this story are (a) the waywardness of men and (b) the skilfulness of God at over-ruling and directing even their misbehaviour to suit His own ends.
• Judah’s first mistake- cutting himself of from the people of God (1)- Judah leaves the sons of Israel and dwells with the Adullamite Hirah, someone "excluded from the citizenship of Israel and a foreigner to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world" (Eph.2:12).
Application 1: the negative effect of non-Christian company- "Bad company corrupts good character" (1 Cor.15:33)
Application 2: the necessity of Christian fellowship- "let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).
• Judah’s second mistake- marrying an unbeliever (2). This was the downfall of many great men in the Bible, let alone rather average men like Judah. Esau married two foreign women and "they were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah" (26:35); Samson had no end of trouble with his heathen girlfriends- he was blinded by lust, you might say; Solomon’s wives "turned his hear after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been" (1 Kings 11:4); Nehemiah was so upset about the pagan consequences of the intermarrying of his men that he "rebuked them and called curses down on them. [He] beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. [He] made them take an oath in God’s name" (Nehemiah 13:25) not to marry foreign women.
Application 1: "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God..." (2 Cor.6:14,15).
Application 2: Judah saw..., Samson saw ("I have seen"), David saw Bathsheba having her bath- 1 John 2;15-17 tells us to avoid the "cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does" because these things do not come "from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever".
• Judah’s third mistake- passing on his errors to his son Er (6,7). Startling even terrifying verse 7. Whatever it was Er was doing, this emphasises to us "the steep moral decline in [God’s] chosen family, which only the outstanding piety of Joseph would arrest for a while" (Kidner).