Sovereign Over Evil

“At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah . . . Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.’ But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also. Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, ‘Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.’ For he thought, ‘He may die too, just like his brothers.’ So Tamar went to live in her father’s household. After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.”—Genesis 38:1-12 (NIV)

Talk about a scandal! Today’s passage may have been uncomfortable to read, but there are no movie ratings for the Bible, especially on certain books in the Old Testament. However, the beauty of the Bible comes from its truth. Each and every story we find within it has been included for a purpose which is to glorify God, reveal more of Himself to us, and point us to our Savior! Therefore, when you read the more difficult, uncomfortable, or confusing passages of Scripture, I implore you to dig deeper, ask questions, and possibly use a commentary as I did in preparation for this devo!

As I pondered what truth the Lord could possibly want to remind me of through this story, I was immediately reminded of His sovereignty. God had predetermined in His omniscience and omnipotence that Jesus would one day be born into the line of Judah. Yet in this passage, we see much sin in the lives of Judah and his family. Judah acted disobediently as he took a pagan wife and gave a pagan wife to his son. He also acted cowardly as he tried to send Tamar away without providing a husband for her as was his duty at the time. Additionally, his own sons were “wicked in the Lord’s sight,” and sadly, tomorrow we’ll see that his disappointing behavior doesn’t end with these twelve verses.

However, before we’re too quick to judge Judah and his family’s actions, we must remember we’re not too different than they are. We’ve also fallen short of God’s glory and holiness. Our sin may take different forms, but we too have acted both disobediently and cowardly. In the midst of our mistakes, we must remember that God is still sovereign and gracious.

Much like how Joseph proclaimed to his brothers once reunited what they meant for evil, God used for good (Genesis 50:20) and much like how God redeemed Peter’s sin of denying Christ, we can be assured that both the evil actions performed against us and performed by us will be used for good by our heavenly Father. He is faithful and just to forgive us when we repent (1 John 1:9), yet He is also sovereign and will use all mistakes to one day bring Him glory—even if that day is beyond our time on earth or even in eternity!

Today, let’s root our hope in the goodness and unfailing nature of God’s character! As we praise and thank Him for who He is, may our only response be complete surrender and a desire to become more like Him.

DIG: We are not so different from Judah. Reflect on a time where you perhaps acted disobediently or cowardly like Judah.

DISCOVER: Once you’ve reflected, remind yourself of the truths found in His Word, such as in Hebrews 8:12, Romans 8:38-39, and Romans 14:8.

DO: Based on the Scripture in “Discover” section, say this aloud or jot it down in your notes: The Lord has forgiven me and cleansed me of unrighteousness. Though I may fail, nothing on the earth nor in the heavens can separate me from His love. Therefore, I will live for Him!