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October 18, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“And it was told Tamar, saying, ‘Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.’ So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face. Then he turned to her by the way, and said, ‘Please let me come in to you’; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. So she said, ‘What will you give me, that you may come in to me?’ And he said, ‘I will send a young goat from the flock.’ So she said, ‘Will you give me a pledge till you send it?’ Then he said, ‘What pledge shall I give you?’ So she said, ‘Your signet and cord, and your staff that is in your hand.’ Then he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him. So she arose and went away, and laid aside her veil and put on the garments of her widowhood. And Judah sent the young goat by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman’s hand, but he did not find her. Then he asked the men of that place, saying, ‘Where is the harlot who was openly by the roadside?’ And they said, ‘There was no harlot in this place.’ So he returned to Judah and said, ‘I cannot find her. Also, the men of the place said there was no harlot in this place.’ Then Judah said, ‘Let her take them for herself, lest we be shamed; for I sent this young goat and you have not found her.’ And it came to pass, about three months after, that Judah was told, saying, ‘Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; furthermore she is with child by harlotry.’”—Genesis 38:13-24 (NKJV)
Sin is powerful—it’s very deceptive and pleasurable. From birth, we are sinful because of our fallen nature (Psalm 51:5).
Let’s recap what has happened to Tamar—a Canaanite widow. In that day and culture to not have a husband and children was extremely difficult. Tamar’s first husband, Er, “was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord killed him” (Genesis 38:7 NKJV). She was then given to her brother-in-law, Onan, so she could bear children, according to the law of levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5-6; Matthew 22:24). But Onan didn’t want to bear children with her and went to immoral lengths to avoid it, so the Lord “killed him also” (Genesis 38:10 NKJV). The next brother-in-law in line, Shelah, was too young at the time; however, Judah had no intention of giving him to Tamar for fear he would die, too.
Scripture is clear about sin. All of us are tempted, lured, and enticed by our own desires. Then when our desires are conceived, they give birth to sin. And when sin is fully grown, it brings forth death (James 1:15). Therefore, we must be careful, because whenever we know the right thing to do but fail to do it we’re sinning (James 4:17).
Tamar, an unwed widow, tricked her father-in-law Judah into sleeping with her disguising herself as a prostitute. The result was she got pregnant and gave birth to twin boys.
Judah’s sinful desires got the best of him. Thinking he was free to do his own thing put him in a place many find themselves: compromise. Las Vegas used to run an ad that said, “What happens here, stays here!” Judah’s little escapade would be pleasurable and nobody would know, right? He likely thought, This girl doesn’t know me, and my family has no clue. Yet, he ignored the fact that God sees and knows the motives of our hearts.
Recently, a family member of mine was incarcerated. He stole an item and thought no one saw him. However, security cameras caught his license number, and police showed up later at his home. I wish he would have heeded Numbers 32:23 (NKJV) which tells us, “Take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.”
Jesus loves us regardless of our mess ups. He’ll never love us any less, no matter how much of a twisted genealogical line we’ve woven, an addictive past we claim, or a record littered with crimes we carry. The consequences are painful, but Christ’s love remains pure. He is faithful to forgive us and He’ll never love us any less.
DIG: How does sin’s temptations lure you?
DISCOVER: Can you recall a time when you gave in to sinful pleasures and it cost you dearly?
DO: Consider today how God wants to use your sinful mistakes as a testimony to help others. Start by writing down how God has brought good out of your mistakes.