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Saturday, May 2, 2020

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter THIRTY EIGHT


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

Chuck Missler Bible Commentary - Genesis 37-40

GENESIS 38 – by Sonny Islas; see the video of this teaching here.

Introduction: We are now in Genesis 38 where we find a portion of Judah’s life sandwiched between Joseph’s life (found in Chapters 37, 39 and on). Genesis 38 is like a commercial break from the main movie – Joseph’s life.

Genesis 38 is a glimpse of Judah’s pitiful spiritual life. It’s a portrait of his flawed family. The two main characters in this scandalous chapter are Judah (Israel’s 4th son) and Tamar (Judah’s daughter-in-law.
The reason why God has us stop and briefly focus on Judah and Tamar and their flaws is because Jesus, our Messiah, comes from Judah, Tamar and their firstborn – Perez (which means breakthrough). We find Jesus’ lineage in Matthew 1:1-6.

When we look at the family of Jesus, we can’t help but notice that God used some pretty ‘jacked up’ people to bring about His Holy Son. Question: Why does God use sinners? Answer: Because sinners are all that He has to work with.
If we’re honest we are Judah, his sons and Tamar to some degree – if not worse and yet the LORD saved and uses us. And yet God has had mercy on us!

Judah’s Flawed Family. Subtitled: Dishonesty, Depravity and Deception.

Genesis 38:1-2 (At that time - around the same time that Joseph was sold)
And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.


Judah separated from his brothers - John Wesley says that this was one of Judah’s first mistakes - for him to leave His godly father and God chosen family (as imperfect as it was yet there was some light).

When we step away from Christian influence (from loving accountability/people who care for our soul and spiritual well-being) we’re headed downhill – just ask the many who have backslidden. They inch away from the church fellowship and eventually find themselves in the pig pen. Isn’t this what happened to the prodigal son?

It could very well be that Judah left due to his overwhelming guilt of selling his brother Joseph and lying to his godly dad. He tried to run from a guilty conscience, but I would have you know that no one can outrun a guilty conscience because it goes wherever you go. A guilty conscience can only be squashed by humbly confessing your sin and receiving forgiveness (especially forgiveness from and through Jesus).

“…and visited a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah.”– the word “certain” here could mean that Hirah was a popular man, a rich man or even a man with a bad reputation. And I would go with - a man with a bad reputation, because when Judah sins sexually, Hirah was there to help cover it up instead of straightening Judah out by giving him a smack upside the head.

So, when we step away from good company (mainly his father Israel) we find new company, maybe even bad company.

1 Corinthians 15:33 says
Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’." 


Not to say that Judah had a good character but Hirah didn’t help any.
Listen, we can all find someone we can “freely” sin with. There is always a Hirah out there waiting to help a Christian fall in the name of fun and freedom. Stick to godly people, you’ll be all the better for it.
Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite (possibly a prominent women) who name was Shua and he married her – Not only did Judah find himself a Canaanite cutie, she was most likely rich as well, seeing that her name means ‘wealth’. 

As we can see Judah keeps rolling down the hill because now, he’s integrating with the Canaanites who were infamous for their idolatry. Judah refused to marry into his family. One commentator says, no wonder his sons turned out to be devils! If those who are single decide to marry a non-Christian, you may not like the repercussions. And that’s not to say that every Christian marriage is strong and healthy either but at least you begin with obedience to God’s Word and common ground.

Genesis 38:3-5
And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er. And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan. And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah: and he was at Chezib, when she bare him
.
This Canaanite cutie named Shua gave Judah three sons, Er (awake), Onan (strong) and Shae-luh (petition – his birth could’ve been an answer to prayer) .
Now the story of Judah and Tamar begins to unfold along with a whole lot of junk such as dishonesty, depravity and deception.

Genesis 38:6-7
And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him
.


Here we find Judah blessing his firstborn with a wife whose name was Tamar ("palm-tree").
This Er was so wicked that God became fed up with his evil. So much so, that God struck him dead! Now the scripture doesn’t specify what Er did but I’m guessing it was probably too shameful to say.

Er “was wicked in the sight of the LORD.” The reality is that God sees everything, nothing escapes His all-seeing eyes. All sin is committed before His holy eyes. And there are times when He decides to pull the plug on some without warning (swift justice/judgment). And He is perfectly right in taking anyone’s life as He so pleases. When He takes the life, of an unbeliever, it’s an act of condemnation (i.e. Er) but when He takes the life of a true believer, it’s an act of discipline.

Listen, God kills people when they’ve gone too far – we see this in the Old Testament but we also see it in the New Testament as well:

Acts 5:5,10
And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband
. (See also: 1 Cor. 11:26-31)

Genesis 38:8
And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother
.


Onan was the next brother in line, so it was his honorable duty to marry his brother’s wife Tamar and give her children – in order to raise heirs (inheritors) for his older brother. This was later implemented in the Law of Moses (Duet. 25:5).
Let’s see what Onan decided to do. Will he honor God, His dad and his deceased brother Er OR will he be selfish?

Genesis 38:9-10
And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. 10 And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also
.

“Onan knew that the heir would not be his” In other words Onan would not get the firstborn birthrights, his child to Tamar would be and he wasn’t having it! Onan pretended to obey his father Judah and had a little lustful fun in the process.
How many people are not like Onan? Where, like Onan, they say that they will obey the LORD but when it comes down to it, they cut corners behind closed doors and selfishly do things their own way.

“When he went into his brother’s wife” This word “when” refers to Onan’s regular use of Tamar as a sex toy. She was just a sexual satisfaction, and this is why he “emitted on the ground.” He figured I won’t give my dead brother a first born but I will enjoy his wife’s body.

This action was coined Onanism or Coitus interruptus, where a man is willing to use a woman’s body for sexual pleasure but he’s not willing to marry or raise children. He’s in it for the pleasure without the commitment and responsibility. This is common in our wicked culture and it’s an evil sin in the sight of the LORD and deserving of death – and that’s why God killed this brother too. Onan thought that he was getting away with his sin, but the Judge showed up and executed this pervert. God hates when men see woman as sex objects and not valuable image bearers of God!

Genesis 38:11
11 Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, Remain a widow at thy father's house, till Shelah my son be grown: for he said, Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did. And Tamar went and dwelt in her father's house
.

At this point Judah is thinking that Tamar is bad luck but in reality, his sons were the evil ones deserving of early death. Judah was being dishonest with Tamar. He was just trying to get rid of her because he didn’t want his last son Shelah dying next.

Genesis 38:12
12 And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah's wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite
.

For an unknown reason, Judah’s wife dies. It seems like all that can go wrong for Judah is going wrong. Imagine the heartache? First your two sons die and now your wife. Can things get any worse? Yes, they certainly do.

“Judah was comforted and went up to his sheep shears at Timnah”
Bible scholars say that this sheep shearing at Timnah was really a sinful party. Where you could find sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – only kidding – but sinful pleasure for sure.
Now Tamar (Judah’s daughter-in-law) is going to disguise herself and play the prostitute in order to get what she wants. What she feels is rightfully hers.

Tamar may have wanted to bare a son for various reasons: perhaps a son that would eventually lead to the Messiah, or maybe she just wanted to honor her late husband Er; it could be she wanted to be delivered from the embarrassment of being childless, or she just wanted to get even with Judah and his dishonesty by promising her his son Shelah. One or more of these four reasons was her motive.

Genesis 38:13-19
13 And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnath to shear his sheep. 14 And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. 16 And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me? 17 And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it? 18 And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him. 19 And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood
.


Judah offered her a goat for some sex. John Wesley says, even if Judah were to offer her thousands of goats, and rivers of oil it would not be worth it. Because God’s pleasure, the purity of the soul, the peace of conscience and the hope of heaven is worth infinitely more! In other words, if we had to choose all the riches of the world over obeying God, in the long run obeying God is best.

She asks for collateral – this woman was no fool – she asked for his signet ring (His signature-like holding a driver’s license and credit card, used as main identification), the chord that held it around his neck and his staff (most likely a unique one – with a certain design on it).

Genesis 38:20-23
20 And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman's hand: but he found her not. 21 Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, that was openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot in this place. 22 And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot in this place. 23 And Judah said, Let her take it to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her
.


“Let her keep them less we be shamed” Notice Judah was more concerned about his reputation before men and being embarrassed if people knew what he did more than if God knew. Many people live this way, where they care more about what sinful people think than what a Holy God thinks about our sinful actions.

A mature Spirit filled Christian is more embarrassed about God knowing about their sin that man knowing about their sin.

Genesis 38:24
24 And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt
.

It’s interesting how our sin looks worse on others. Judah is just as guilty as Tamar and in my opinion even more so, being that he was raised by a godly father (Israel. The person with more light takes the greater blame). In Lev 20 and Lev 21 it became law to burn people for sexual and incestuous sin.

Genesis 38:25-26
25 When she was brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff. 26 And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more
.

Judah was exposed. He can’t deny the huge ‘J’ on the signet ring. He’s guilty; the child is his.

Genesis 38:27-30
27 And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb. 28 And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first. 29 And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez. 30 And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah
.

Through deception, Tamar gets what she wants and again Jesus comes from the line of Perez ("Pharez"; Matthew 1:3-4).

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