From Tamar to Christmas

Last week I indicated that as we approach Christmas, we will look at some stories of Jesus’ descendants which are not beautiful at all. The main aim of this study is to remind us of God’s greatness, grace and faithfulness as we marvel at how God is able to overcome evil with good.

The story of Tamar which is recorded in Genesis 38 interrupts the wonderful story of Joseph.  It is an ugly tale of cheating and unfaithfulness.  Yet from it, we still see God accomplishing His will. Please take your time to read it.

Briefly, Tamar pretends to be a prostitute and seduces her father-in-law, Judah to sleep with her. The child that is born from this adulterous union, Perez, happens to be a great grandfather of Jesus Christ.   Could God have stopped this from happening? Yes, He could. But why did He allow it? He alone knows best.

However, we can still see from the story that God can use the imperfect things of the world to bring out something perfect. Tamar and Judah were sinful and failed miserably to reach God’s standards. But God stooped in his grace and reached out to them and through them brought out a perfect savior. Those who are in this Savior including Tamar and Judah are counted perfect and righteous basing on the Savior’s righteousness. This is the amazing grace of God.


The ‘Roots’ of Christ

Some have accused Christians of always trying to paint a good picture of Christ. These people have even gone to the extreme of ‘exposing negative stories’ about Christ which they say Christians have always kept under the carpet.

However, this is a sad accusation because Christianity or the Bible does not hide anything about Christ including those incidents that seem embarrassing. Therefore, God willing, from this week, as we look forward to Christmas, we will dwell on the genealogy or the descendants of Christ whose life stories are not all that beautiful. These include Tamar who seduced her father-in-law,  Judah, to sleep with her, Rehab who was a prostitute, and Manasseh one of the most evil kings of Judah.

When we read and reflect on the life stories of these people, we are amazed at how God could allow such people to be the descendants of Jesus. It only confirms that God’s ways are not indeed our ways.

Furthermore, the stories of some of these descendants assure us that God’s grace is indeed amazing for it transforms sinners into saints.  These stories also show us that God is not limited or controlled by our sinfulness.  We might not be faithful, but He always remains faithful and he can accomplish his good will even through our unfaithfulness.  We might have evil intentions, but he overcomes them with his goodness.

Then it’s not a very nice picture

Some refuse to accept that the Bible is God’s Word and allege that it is fiction. They even accuse Christians of composing stories contained in the Bible to paint a nice picture of Jesus.

However, if one studies Scripture then these allegations fall through. For instance, the genealogy of Jesus in Mathew 1:1-18 contains some names which no one composing the genealogy with such an aim would have deliberately included.

There is Tamar who concealed her true identity in order to sleep with her own father in law, Judah, and she succeeded (Genesis 38).

Then there is Rahab who was a prostitute before she was converted to Judaism (Joshua 2:1). Another questionable character in the pedigree is Bathsheba who committed adultery with King David and this sin even led to death of her own husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11-12).

In the family tree, you also meet King Manasseh who was one of worst and evil kings of Judah (2 Kings 21). If the Bible is a fiction that aims at painting a very nice and beautiful picture of Jesus then these characters fail the whole plot.

But the Bible is not fiction. It is God’s Word hence the truth because God is truth. God allowed these characters to be in the line of Jesus’ great grandparents probably to show us as one theologian remarked “God can use a crooked stick to strike a straight blow.”

The genealogy can also encourage us who do not have a good family tree by reminding us that God can change everything through us who are in Christ because if we are in Christ, we are a new creation. The old has passed away… the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).