Day Seventeen, Genesis 37-38
This reading introduced us to Joseph, one of my favorite people in the OT. His story is an incredible one of prophecy, hatred, mistreatment, power, false accusations, punishment, intrigue, more prophecy, neglect, more power, preparedness, trickery, and finally pure forgiveness! I can't wait to blog through it!
At the beginning of Joseph's life, we see that Jacob is still playing favorites, this time with his sons. As I've already said, an important lesson that can be learned from Jacob's life is that playing favorites will create resentment. And resentment, Joseph's brothers did feel toward him! Scripture says they couldn't even speak a kind word to him!
It didn't help matters that Joseph was having these prophetic dreams, symolic of his brothers bowing down to him, of him lording over his family. His brothers hated him so much that they were ready to kill him.
I guess it's pretty bad when the nicest of your brothers says, "No, let's not kill him, let's just throw him into this pit!" Yeah, he's the nice one. (In his defense, Scripture also says that Reuben was hoping to rescue him later But unfortunately, because he didn't act immediately, Joseph was sold into slavery before Reuben had a chance to save him.)
The reading said it was Judah's brilliant idea to make a profit off of Joseph by selling him into slavery. We learn that Joseph was taken to Egypt and sold there to one of Pharaoh's officials. Then in the next chapter, we go into a story about Judah's family.
We learn that at least two out of three of Judah's sons were wicked, so much so that the Lord put them to death. So Judah's widowed daughter-in-law, Tamar, goes back home to live in her father's household. She is promised to be given to Judah's third son when he grows up. But when that doesn't happen, Tamar decides to take matters into her own hands.
When Tamar hears that her father-in-law Judah is passing through town, she dresses like a prostitute, and Judah, not reconizing her, sleeps with her, and she becomes pregnant by him.
When word reaches Judah that his daughter-in-law is pregnant, he demands that she be put to death.
When word reaches Judah that HE is her babies' daddy, he conveniently has a change of heart.
When I first read today's reading, I didn't really know what to make of it. I'd read this story before, but I've never had to make myself sit down and write something thoughtful about it. The only thought that kept coming to my head is that it is kind of an offensive story. I'm aggravated by the behaviors of both Tamar and Judah, but especially by the hypocritical attitude of Judah!
Perhaps it's because when I hear the name Judah, I can't help but think of the Lion of Judah, One who, as He walked this earth, seemed to be the most disgusted by those with hypocritical attitudes. And I think, "This is the line Jesus descended from, THIS Judah is the head of the tribe that the Lord came from???" And it's offensive.
But then I remembered a sermon that Hovater preached one Sunday night about a year ago, in December of 2008. He was talking about the story of the incarnation...how we can read it and the story is insulting. BUT he points out that the insult of the incarnation is NOT that Jesus was a helpless baby...not that he was born to poor parents...not that His birth came with no fanfare, nor that He lived among an oppressed people, nor that He avoided positions of power/prestige...
Or in this case, that Jesus descended from such a family as He did...
NO...the insult of the incarnation is that He became human at all.
For we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
And are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by that Lion of Judah.