“ON EAGLES’ WINGS MINISTRIES”
“Did God Establish “A Man’s World?” Part 5, March 2010.
After twenty years of married life, Isaac and Rebekah had no children and through prayer and faith they now had two sons. Both came forth with different individual traits and personal differences. Esau was a man of the field and a cunning hunter, while Jacob was plain and perhaps “easy going” tender and sort of mellow. For whatever reason or reasons we care to formulate in our own thinking, we never read where Rebekah loved Jacob. The birthright had two components: the right to inheritance and be the family’s head, and the blessing that would be bestowed by their old Dad. We learn that Esau came in from the fields one day, very hungry and about to faint. Seeing Jacob with red pottage, he promptly asked for some. This was an opportune time for Jacob to make his pitch for the birthright. He held it before Esau’s face as the price for some of his pottage. “And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he swear unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob, thus Esau despised his birthright.” Genesis 25:30-34.
As the old man Isaac got ready to bestow his blessing upon his son, he instructed Esau to fetch venison and make his favorite savory meat, “That my soul may bless thee before I die.” Jacob’s mother heard and concocted a scheme where by her beloved son Jacob would trick his blind father and get the blessing. Here is her input that marked the demise of life as they knew it, inserted lies and deception, resulting in hate with the intent to murder, and made her loving son a fugitive. “Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee. Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth.” Genesis 27:8-9. Jacob was doubtful of this scheme and not comfortable with it. He reasoned that he is of smooth skin while his brother is hairy, what if my father feels my hands? Mother stepped in with the answer! We will wrap the skins of the kids around your arms and neck. The old man received Jacob, was disturbed and a little confused that the voice was that of Jacob but the skin was that of Esau. Nevertheless, he went ahead and blessed Jacob with the birthright.
Needless to say that when Esau came with the venison made into savoury meat for his Dad, he suddenly learned the blessing was already bestowed upon his brother. The fact that he sold it to his brother did not matter. The fact that he despised it along the way, did not serve to assuage his wrath that festered itself into hate and a desire for murder. The roof fell in, the bottom fell out, and Rebekah had to think fast! The only resolve she had on such sort notice was this: “Now therefore my son, obey my voice; arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran, and tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?” Genesis 27;43-45 Rebekah placed Jacob under the threat of “Obedience” do as I say! Obey my voice! This day she bade goodbye to her beloved son, Jacob, as he made his way to Haran some five hundred miles away. That was the last day that both mother and son had any contact. They never saw each other again and I believe that until the day of her death, Rebekah regretted her actions built upon lies and trickery. If we believe that Sarah acted upon an impulse and gave her handmaid to her husband in trying to help bring to pass God’s promise, which backfired as we know, Rebekah’s actions went way over the top and crossed every line of honesty and patience in the ways of God. Funny thing is, we read that Isaac saw Rebekah and loved her, and took her home to his mother’s home and made her his wife and he loved her. But nowhere do we read that Rebekah loved Isaac, and it is possible that the love that should have gone from her to her husband went to Jacob instead. Perhaps she saw in her son a lot of the fine qualities of her husband. Perhaps she was now showering that love on a younger man, her very own son. We will never know the bottom line factors that came into play in this family that caused so much pain.
As I revisited this story it dawned upon me that perhaps we have all missed one vital factor in the life of Rebecca. We are told in scripture that upon her conception God told her that two nations were in her womb and the elder shall serve the younger. But what is missing in this story, is God’s dealings with Rebecca during the years of the young lads growth from babies, to children, to teenagers, to young adults. Are we to assume that God spoke to her only that one time before the boys were born, and went silent from then on? Couldn’t it be that God spoke to her many times more, and possibly gave her specific instructions pertaining Jacob, and what would unfold in his life in his latter years? We can ponder these points, but since they are not found in biblical narrative or chronology we cannot pass them off as “truths.” What we do know as the boys grew within the womb of their mother is that God intended to introduce something completely new; a move that did not require man’s approval. The ongoing law was that the eldest son should be the heir and lay claim to the inheritance. That was about to change, and it did not require some sort of “right-wing” political movement to initiate this change. God, in his sovereignty decided that starting with Esau and Jacob the birthright is going to go to the younger son. Who is there to argue with God or is able to give him counsel? It therefore goes without saying, that even before the boys were born, not having done good or evil, God already made choices and already determined who should be above whom. But listen to this! If we spend the rest of our years arguing about Esau and Jacob in the light of history, we will miss seeing the bigger picture. When God instituted the issue of the younger son obtaining the inheritance, was he just thinking of these two boys? Was God’s action limited to Jacob and his immediate descendants, or was there a greater meaning that carried far greater ramifications than implied in the Genesis story? Could it be that God’s eyes were moving down through the prophetic corridors of time to even the very day that we live in? We should always bear in mind that Old Testament stories usually carry New Testament fulfillments wrapped entirely in the redemptive carvings and framework of Calvary.
Now Jacob becomes the major player in this next big event; a trend that begun at his own birth. He was now a blind old man getting ready to bless two of his grand sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Now, Manasseh was the first born and as such was in line to receive the blessing. With this in mind, their father Joseph brought the two boys to their grand father Jacob, with Joseph having Manasseh in his own left hand so that he would be in line with Jacob’s right hand. Ephraim was in Joseph’s right hand so that he’d be in Jacob’s left hand which was the correct order as far as the blessings were concerned. Watch the shift made by Jacob who could not see clearly. “And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hand wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.
And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.” Genesis 48:1,2,13-20. This language and this picture are as clear as day. It should be obvious to us by now, that what began with the birth of Esau and Jacob was being carried along by Jacob and displays a principle that God himself initiated with far reaching implications. Paul was not oblivious to this truth, this principle that now applies to the Church of the living God. The apostle wrote: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he (the Son) might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Or among a family of many brothers! Romans 8:29. Here is the big picture! Jesus is called the “Firstborn” and as we have just seen, in God’s grand design the birthright passes on from the firstborn to the second born. Paul again indicated in Romans 8:17 that if we are children, or sons of God, we are then heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, so that if we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified together. What does the law say about heirs and joint-heirs? The law states that all heirs share an equal percentage of the estate, so 4 heirs would each inherit 25% of the estate equally. But when it comes down to joint-heirs, by law, each joint-heir owns 100% of the inheritance equally. It is like a joint account between a man and his wife; both are equal owners of the monetary funds. It is correctly stated in Romans 8:16-17 that the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are indeed the children of God.
Thus, as such we are heirs of God, but what seems to be the hold up? Why so much that is rightly ours is yet to be appropriated in reality? Paul puts it this way: “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.” Galatians 4:1-2. It is plain to see that God started something new with Rebecca, continued its progression with Jacob, and forwarded its cause through Jesus our Lord himself. He came as the firstborn in God’s New Testament family of believers, and is saying, not so Father, do not put your right hand on my head because I am your firstborn, put it upon the heads of all my younger brethren. “For which cause he is not ashamed to call us brethren.” Hebrews 2:11b. Now back to Isaac! Although Isaac knew of the mistake he had made, he was gracious to the son who tricked him. He agreed that Jacob should leave at least for a spell. “And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people. And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee, that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.” Genesis 28:1-4. In his early life as a fugitive if even for a short time, Jacob came upon a spot of ground where he decided to bed down for the night. At this point in time, when his life was in complete disarray, in his flight, he came face to face with God in a vision. I have been reading the following passage for years and each time I read it, I get goose bumps and chills because of its impact. Try it for yourself!
“And behold, the Lord stood above it (the ladder) and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Listen to these words to a man on the rum) And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again (this is the part that gets me) into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken of to thee.” Jacob awoke and was afraid and said; “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Jacob felt good and revived in his spirit and decided it was now time to make a vow to God; only, he will attach certain conditions to his vow.
“And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me (he just said he would) and will keep me in this way that I go (he just said he would) and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God.” Genesis 28:13-21. One major component to this episode is missing based upon our own way of thinking. As Jacob encounters God on this spot of ground, wasn’t it a good time for God to call him to account for the reason why he is on the run? Wasn’t it correct and just for God to chastise this man for lying, and for pulling off a huge con job in the family? Shouldn’t God have said, “Shame on you Jacob; I intended to bless you and make you great in my own time, so why did you and your mother take it upon yourselves to lie and cheat to get what was already yours and would come to fruition in due time? In the entire life of Jacob I have not read where God rebuked him for any matter. As we indicated before, we cannot judge Rebecca because we have no record of all that God said to her, and how he dealt with her during the years of her sons’ growth into manhood.
Like Adam, Abraham had his inheritance placed in his hands so to speak. God led him out from his home and country and later told him to look to the four points of the compass, and all the land that he could see, would be his. Isaac came along and inherited the wealth and good fortunes of his father. He did not have to work to get it, only to keep it and nurture it. Jacob, on the other hand began wheeling and dealing his way in life. He took the long and hard way like so many of us today go forward in trying to fulfill God’s call upon our lives. It seems that waiting can be so hard on the human spirit. Jacob had to learn the hard way, but God did not decry his efforts. Each of us seemingly goes through a different learning process. It seems hard to learn how to: “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10.
Being still seems to be so unproductive and even boring, yet, many can attest to the fact that their most amazing discoveries and insight in how to overcome their own life’s challenges, came in moments of silence. Silence indeed is golden! The story of Jacob and Esau comes with very troubling aspects, elements and components. The difficulties arise mostly from our vantage point. As ministers, annalists and bible commentators, deans at theological seminaries, and lay persons who yearn for the truth, we go to any length to provide answers to all that God does. To say “I don’t fully understand that” seems to be seen as an indictment against the pastor, evangelist, bishop, or lay person. To avoid this, we put ourselves through hoops; we bend our minds, play on words, cut and paste the scriptures so that as best we can, we offer what we deem to be correct answers. Peter who knew Paul as a contemporary in the ministry affirms that some of Paul’s teachings were not easily understood with which the unlearned wrestle to their own destruction.
Listen to Peter! “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” 2 Peter 3:16. When last have you gone to your pastor wanting him or her to explain certain scriptures and you are told quite clear and simple, “I don’t understand it yet.” This brings us to the delicate case of the two boys Jacob and Esau. “For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done good or evil, that the purpose of God according to ELECTION might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” Romans 9:9-14. The Greek word for hate in this verse is mis-eh’-o from a prime root that means to detest, to persecute, to love less. God works according to the purpose of election!
No matter how we care to slice this hunk of truth, it would appear that God did not do right with the boys. Come on my Friend! Before they were born! Before they both had a chance to do good or evil, God already announced that he loved one and hated the other. In a court of law in these United States based on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, God would have the verdict rendered against him. But God had a bigger lesson for us to learn. It was not by works but by election that God enforced his will upon these families. Let us go forward a bit and cite the case of Joseph. God had promised Abram (before his name was changed) that his seed would be strangers in a strange land and there they would serve as slaves for four hundred years. Then he would judge that nation and Israel would come forth with great substance. Genesis 15:13-14. Away down the line in Abraham’s third generation a great grand son was born with the gift of having meaningful dreams and interpreting dreams. This little gift threw him in conflict with his brothers who finally threw him in a pit, then took him out and sold him as a slave and this landed him in Egypt. He landed a job in the home of a noble man, only to be accused of attempted rape by the man’s wife for which he was thrown in prison. He interpreted a dream for the butler while in prison who promised to mention him to the Pharaoh but two more empty years went by. So we have to add more years to his sentence over and above those two years. All of this for that which was not his fault and over which he had no control.
What hits me hard and stirs up my emotion in this lesson is the fact that after Joseph was taken from prison and given the highest rank of leadership to the Pharaoh, we read; “And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” This is as heavy as it gets! Throughout his life, Joseph was like a pawn in the game of life over which he had no control, not only so, he did not know why such things were happening to him. When he finally revealed himself to his brethren we read this account; “And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:19-20. The point of this reference is that all during his times of trials, including years in the prison dungeon Joseph had no clue why all these things were happening to him. Wouldn’t it be a little easier to endure if we knew what was happening in our lives at any given time, and why? As we go through that which we cannot fathom we can only place our well being in the hands of a faithful Creator.
We can blame Rebecca if we care to, we can blame Sarah if we care to; we can blame the brothers of Joseph if we care to, but after we are through placing blame, we have to come back to him that worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, and realize that that which is made cannot say to him that made him, why hast thou made me thus, for the potter has power over the clay to make whatever vessel that pleases him. By the same token, we who are simply “a work in progress” in the potter’s hands cannot sit on the sideline and criticize, for we have no power to make anyone. Paul carefully weighed the interplay and interaction between good and evil, Jews and Gentiles, and in total surrender to the sovereignty of God he exclaimed: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor? ” Romans 11;33-34. Indeed, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” Acts 15:18. As we just read, God’s ways are past finding out! So why is it every Christian minister, every exhorter, every altar worker, every missionary to foreign lands continue to try and explain all of God’s ways? They are past finding out! Period!
The intricacies of God’s divine plans are never clear to us humans, but I fix my confidence in the promises of God who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, who has no difficulty in articulating his intentions and his ability to finish whatsoever he starts. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11. Who among us can ask for more divine dynamics set forth in plain language? The antics, misunderstandings, or even outright manipulation of God’s word spoken to Adam, Eve, Sarah, or Rebecca, are incapable of thwarting the embryo of God’s Word his Seed, planted deep in the inner recesses of the human heart and hinder it from growing, and from prospering, culminating in the finished products that God already sees as complete before time began.
We now set the spotlight on another woman who through tricks and deception fulfilled God’s purpose and through this woman came one through whose lineage Jesus came. To make the lesson clear and to stay focused we need to read the entire story. Please follow this carefully to see how the story unfolds. “And Judah (Jacob’s fourth son by Leah) saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her. 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. And Judah took a wife for Er his first born, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah’s firstborn was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him. (Things begin to get a little touchy from here.) According to Hebrew law the next brother in line should marry his brother’s widow and produce seed to his deceased brother. And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. 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. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also. At this point in the narrative, the third brother in line should marry Tamar and she was promised this action by her father in law, who reneged on his promise so Tamar turned to her backup plan. “And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnath to sheer his sheep. And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a veil, 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 for wife.
When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. 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? 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? 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. 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.
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. Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.” Genesis 38:13-30. Tamar gave birth to twins through whoredom; being impregnated by her own father in law. The name of one was Pharez and the other Zarah. But here is the clincher, Pharez figured directly in the lineage of Jesus the coming Messiah and that was what Tamar tried so hard to preserve. It is amazing how women can pick up on things of vital importance that men seem not to pick up in our spirit. Who would think that God would allow a child born directly out of an incestuous relationship to be numbered among those through whom the Savior of the world would come? Take for instance, Christ came through the lineage of David, then Solomon whose mother was Bathsheba the woman David lusted after, laid with, and later had her husband purposely killed in battle. The first child that they had died, but God called Solomon by name long before his birth who would build God’s house instead of David his father under whom Israel excelled to heights of glory.
Tamar only sought to become the mother of Judah’s tribal representative, while Judah’s participation was based upon fleshly urges and fleshly gratification. Tamar’s reasons reached more noble heights and she was honored by God in that she as a Canaanite woman figured directly in the Jewish ancestry of Jesus Christ. Based upon family traditions handed down verbally by word of mouth, she must have heard many times how Jacob on his death bed blessed his sons and foretold their future. She must have heard repeatedly how Jacob said of Judah her father in law; “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Genesis 49:10. Tamar decided to do whatsoever was necessary to keep that link in the family, and since Judah showed no willingness of giving to her the next son in line, she took matters in her own hands. As we mentioned above, Jesus came through the lineage of Pharez, who was not only born out of an incestuous relationship with Tamar’s father in law, but his mother was a Canaanite or Gentile.
So when we look at the big picture, we see that all the time, God had been busy including people other than Jews into the full lineage of Jesus the Christ. Over the years we preachers have been busy linking this verse of scripture to the Jews: “He came to his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:11. But when we add Rebecca who was a Syrian, Tamar who was a Canaanite, and Rahab who was an Amorite who married a Jew and produced Boaz a half Jew who married Ruth a Moabitess, who in turn produced Obed the father of David, whose throne Jesus came to occupy, who among us can separate the good, from the bad, from the ugly as the movie says? Based on the list just offered, who then can be classified as His Own in John’s gospel? Did not John the Baptist see him coming to the banks of the Jordan and announced; “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world?” John 1;29. If that is not enough, let us look back to the days of Moses and the Children of Israel in the wilderness. “And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.” Exodus 12:48.
This actually opened up the floodgates for people to join in the long history of Israel and the Messiah, who did not descend entirely from the lineage of Isaac or Jacob. If any local Pentecostal Holiness Church or any Full Gospel Church of our day sets out to seek candidates for high offices in their organization, Solomon the son of Bathsheba, Pharez, born out of an incestuous relationship, and Rahab, called the harlot, would not have their applications considered. This is simply because we have our own preconceived ideas of what or who is acceptable unto God. This notion that God preserved a pure blood line through which Jesus was to be born falls flat on its face. Human blood from the poorhouse to the White House, from skid row to Saville Row, to the palace can never be classified as pure. It is illogical and even ridiculous to think that anyone born in sin and shapen in iniquity as we humans are can produce pure blood. The blood of Christ is called “Precious” and God purchased his church with his own blood that Jesus shed at Calvary, therefore human genealogy has no bearing on God’s interaction among people here on earth. Acts 20;28. 1 Peter 1;19. It is evident that God does not look for ideal people, especially people passing human tests and approved by men.
It is no wonder that God told the ancient prophet Samuel in the house of David’s father, “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7. God made a woman from materials that were above the basic dust that we walk on. He endowed her with equal power as her husband, and even in her transgression he preached to her the first gospel message that men seem to take as their own. He made her the mother of all human kind from whom the earth is now full. God called a woman of high standing in her city in southern Iraq, and bade her go with her husband to a land far away. He gave her a new name and a mandate to become the mother of nations and kings, and highly exalted her to the most excellent place among the people of God—this we will show later on. Out of a Syrian woman God brought forth two diverse nations, grooming one to become the father of a people called Israelites, who in Old Testament times was a type of God’s New Testament Church. He overlooked the pranks and scheming of a young wife who dared to present herself as a harlot to her father in law so as to prolong the family line through which Jesus was to come. Since the father had lost two sons previously because God slew them, it is possible that he was fearful of losing the third also, thus denying Tamar of having Shelah.
But Tamar his daughter in law was determined to preserve the lineage through which the Messiah would come, and she used what power of persuasion was available to her. Some times we say, “the means justify the end” and at other times we say, “the means does not justify the end.” From our vantage point as “on-lookers” we cannot certify what exactly motivated Tamar to act and appear like a harlot to deceive and trap her father in law. But I think it is safe to say that she was not simply looking for a “good time” with a man. She was not simply aching for a physical contact with a member of the opposite sex. We have to believe that she knew and acted upon more important factors that involved God’s ultimate plans for the Savior to come. In the end, we do not read where God stepped in and condemned her wantonness and lust of the flesh. Isn’t it great to know that God looks upon the heart and judge its intents and motives, and not merely our actions?
One writer has this to say: “We cannot but wonder how Judah and Tamar have the distinction of mention in that sacred genealogy of Jesus Christ, but God’s election is only by grace, for otherwise Judah would never have been chosen. Judah was a Jew; Tamar was a Gentile, and thus their parentage of Pharez can be looked upon as a foreshadowing of the fact that both Jews and Gentiles were to share in the blessings of the gospel.” But as we said before, this goes back even further to Sarah who also was a Gentile an Iraqi from Ur of the Chaldees that was located in southern Iraq, and Rebecca a Syrian. The lineage of Jesus Christ from the very beginning seems to have been interwoven with people and races and characters with whom the present Church of God would have much difficulties. We seem bent on looking for the cream of the crop among men, the elite and the most prestigious. God in turn, picks up the outcasts, the ignoble and those of least esteem among men. That is the way it has been with God and will continue to be, so we need to wake up and begin to see through God’s eyes as we look upon our world and upon our neighbors.
Let us walk the line of Jesus’ ancestry for a while from Tamar. “And Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; and Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Na-as’son; and Na-as’son begat Salmon; and Salmon begat Bo’oz of Rachab; and Bo-oz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; and Jesse begat David.” Matthew 1:3-6. From David it is easy to trace the lineage of Jesus since the New Testament contains numerous references of Jesus being the son of David. But the outline above gives us the vital stepping stones and the exact pathway that Tamar’s offspring begotten in an incestuous relationship figured directly in the family tree of Jesus Christ. Indeed, this would not be the path kings of the earth would take. In fact more often than not, Catholics are forbidden to marry Protestants. It is not frequent that we see a Muslim married to a Christian. I can well remember the uproar that erupted in England back in the 1960s when Princess Margaret showed interest in a divorced man. Through much wrangling and public push back, Royalty is more willing today to marry commoners. Not only was the lineage of Jesus packed with those we would call less desirable, but he was given a simple earthly name that was common in the day he was born, and who ever heard of a king being born in a stable among animals? It must have all seemed to be a cruel joke among those involved back then. Indeed, how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Romans 11:33.
Royce O. Kennedy