March 13 I Sunday
“Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar...” —Matthew 1:3
Could we think of a moment in our life where something profound happened and we were forever changed? For Judah, the revelation from his daughter-in-law, Tamar, was the turning point in his life. He was confronted by his own hypocrisy and began to make his way back to the heart of God. We know Judah was a changed man because of what he does later in the story of Joseph.
When there was a severe famine in Canaan, Jacob sent his ten sons to Egypt to buy grain. When the sons arrived in Egypt, they encountered Joseph, their younger brother whom they sold to Egypt many years ago and lied to their father saying he was dead. The brothers did not recognize Joseph, and Joseph did not reveal himself to them. Before sending the brothers back, Joseph told them not to return without bringing their youngest brother, Benjamin, with them. After believing he had lost Joseph, Jacob did not want Benjamin to go to Egypt, but Judah convinced his father by guaranteeing Benjamin’s safety and being personally responsible for him. When the brothers arrived in Egypt again, Benjamin was framed for stealing a silver cup and punished to be Joseph’s slave. Judah pleaded, “Please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father” (Genesis 44:33-34). Judah gave an impassioned speech full of compassion, love and humility. This pierced into Joseph’s heart, where he eventually revealed his true identity and the whole family was united again.
Judah’s response proved that he had changed. Before Jacob died, he gathered his sons to pronounce blessings on them and prophesy about their future. One would expect that Jacob’s oldest sons, Reuben, or Simeon or Levi would receive the blessing given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Or maybe even Joseph, because he was used by God to rescue the known world. Yet, it was the fourth born, Judah, whom God chose to bear the scepter of the family’s blessings.
Judah’s change was owed to Tamar, and she gave birth to two sons, Perez and Zerah. Perez means “breakthrough” and Zerah means “shining or brightness.” These names reveal that God used Judah’s lowest moment to be a breakthrough moment, a moment where the light of who He is could finally break back into Judah’s life.
God’s grace can meet us in our worst moments and turn them into wondrous worship-filled moments. He meets us in our rebellion and leads us to redemption.
Prayer: Great Almighty God, thank You that the worst moments in my life can be breakthrough moments, where You draw me closer to Your heart. I am in awe and wonder at Your amazing grace. Praise You!