This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was TAMAR, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was RAHAB, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was RUTH, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been URIAH’S WIFE… Matthew 1:1-6 (caps added by me)
We are taking a detour to fast forward to the New Testament account of the genealogy of Jesus. Four women are mentioned in the family line (which was extremely unusual). Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah’s wife.
Before we get to Rahab and Ruth, we see Tamar. Her story is recorded in Genesis chapter 38 and it isn’t pretty. Tamar was married to Er, the oldest son of Judah (the son of Jacob and the wife he was tricked into marrying. Leah). Er was extremely wicked, leading to his death at the hands of God. When Er died, the Jewish custom would have been for one of Er’s brothers to redeem her by caring for her, marrying her, and having a child with her to preserve Er’s family name. But the second oldest son was also wicked and died at the hands of God. Judah doesn’t keep his promises to Tamar to provide for her so she takes matters into her own hands. She disguises herself as a prostitute and Judah takes the bait. She gets pregnant and has a child, Perez, who we see in the family line of Jesus. Tamar is both the daughter-in-law of Judah and the mother of his child.
Don’t be afraid to say it or think it…this is a terrible story. None of this sinful behavior is directed or approved of by a holy God. It is evil in His eyes. But despite unholy people, God’s forward-looking plan continues. God is faithful even when we are not. God’s plans will always prevail. We want to be on Team God, even though we will live it out imperfectly. He is sovereign and always in control.
Questions: Why was it important for God to preserve accounts of these people and decisions steeped in sin and messy living? What can we learn about the character of God in these stories?