March 10 I Thursday
“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.” —Genesis 38:11
The story of Judah continues with him leaving his father’s home, moving to Canaan, marrying a Canaanite woman and having three sons with her. But things in Judah’s life were about to take a turn as Tamar entered into the story. Judah brought Tamar to be the wife of his firstborn, Er. However, Er was wicked in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord put him to death. Scripture did not reveal how Er was wicked or what he did, but that he was put to death for being wicked. Typically, when a father loses a firstborn son, Scripture records all kinds of laments, mourning and grieving, but there was none of that recorded when Judah lost his firstborn.
In the ancient Near East, there was a culturally accepted practice referred to as “levirate marriage,” where, if a husband died leaving a widow, the next son in line from the husband’s family would fulfill the marital obligation by stepping in to marry the widow and having children for his deceased brother. Judah did this by giving Tamar to his second-born son, Onan. But Onan was wicked too. He knew that the children he had with Tamar would not be reckoned his own, so he did not fulfill his obligations to Tamar, taking steps to ensure that she could not get pregnant. God saw all this happening and put Onan to death too.
At this point, all Judah saw was that Tamar was the issue. She married two of his sons and both died; there must be something wrong with her. Judah told Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up” (Genesis 38:11). This was not only a dishonourable thing for Judah to do, but he also cloaked it with a lie. He told Tamar that he would give his third son to her when he was older, but that time never came.
Like Judah, there is a tendency when disruptions come into our lives to distance ourselves from those people or those situations. We want to send them away so that we can just continue on our path. What this text reminds us is that in those moments—when these disruptions come into our lives—it is good to get down on our knees in prayer, seeking discernment on what God may be doing underneath the surface of what is happening to us. If Judah took the time to do this, he would realize that the Lord was the One behind all this. But Judah was not paying attention and continued down the path of disobedience.
Prayer: Lord Heavenly Father, when disruptions come into my life, I will not be swift to pass or to remove it from my life, but I will seek to discern what You are doing. As a loving Father, I know You are drawing me back to You through these disruptions. Thank You, Father.