Some people may think that they are so bad, that their family history is so messed up, or their past behavior is so sordid that God can never use them. Please be encouraged to know that the Grace of God is so fantastic that He can save, clean up and use anybody, including you.

I’m going to tell you a story from the Old Testament of the Holy Bible that may blow your mind about the Grace of God. This story proves that God’s Grace is amazing. The story concerns a man named Judah and a woman named Tamar. In this story, you will see God bring beauty for ashes. He takes a sordid situation and makes it a thing of royalty.

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

There is nothing too hard for our God to do. Let’s examine this story which begins in Genesis chapter 11.

The Back Story

Abraham was called out of his homeland, Ur, by God, and he was given great promises. His miraculous son, Isaac, fathered Jacob, who then had twelve sons. The fourth of his sons was Judah. Except for Benjamin, the brothers plotted to kill their brother Joseph because of jealousy. Judah convinced the brothers, however, to sell Joseph to the Midianites instead of murdering him.  Judah then joined his brothers in lying to their father, telling him that Joseph was dead. This devastating news brought extreme grief to their father’s heart for many years.

Genesis 38:1-11

Judah became the father of three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah. Judah chose Tamar as the bride for his oldest son. Unfortunately, Er’s life displeased God and Er died as a young man.

Gen. 38:7 And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him.

According to Levirate marriage law, if a man died leaving a childless widow, the next oldest son was to marry the widow and raise an heir to the dead brother. Judah said to Onan in Gen. 38:8

Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

Onan enjoyed the pleasure associated with marriage to Tamar but, because he did not want to have a son that would be an heir to his dead brother, he “spilled his seed on the ground” (Gen. 38:9.) In the eyes of God, this was a wicked act, and that brother, Onan, also died early.

10 and the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also.

So now, two of the three sons were dead. When Judah saw that the second son had not fulfilled the law, he promised Tamar his third son as a husband after he was grown. According to Dake’s Bible Commentary, the third son would have been old enough to marry Tamar in 1-2 years, but Judah hesitated, possibly because he feared that his third son would also die if he married her. And this is where Judah’s and Tamar’s wickedness put them both into the category of evil parents and brings us up to our story.

The Story (Genesis 8: 12-25)

Judah’s wife died, and after his mourning period, he went up to Timnath for sheep shearing. Tamar heard that he would be going there, so she took her widow’s garment off, put a veil on her face, dressed as a harlot, and sat in an open place where Judah would find her. She had heard that Shelah was grown, and she had not been given to him as a wife as Judah had promised.

When Judah came along, he saw Tamar and assumed that she was a harlot because of her appearance. He did not know that she was his daughter-in-law because her face was covered. He propositioned her, and he promised to give her a kid, but she requested a pledge until she got the kid. The deposit consisted of his bracelet, signet, and staff. These were vital pieces of identification, and Judah foolishly gave them up for a moment of passion.

Judah and Tamar consummated the act, and when he left, she put her widow’s garments on again and went home with the pledge that she had acquired. Judah’s friend got the kid and went looking for the “harlot.” He intended to exchange the kid for Judah’s property, but the “harlot” was nowhere to be found. His friend asked about the harlot, but he was told that there was no harlot in the place.

Three months later, the news was out that Tamar was pregnant, and Judah was furious. He condemned her to death by burning because she had “played the harlot.” Needless to say, Tamar produced his personal property, saying to her father-in-law:

25 By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff.

Judah recognized his property and acknowledged that he was wrong because he had not given Shelah, his son, to marry Tamar.

So that’s the sordid story of Judah and Tamar. Tamar gave birth to twin boys named Perez and Zarah. The boy’s parents were their Mother and what should have been their… Grandpaw (???) Family History doesn’t get much worse than that. But now steps in the Grace of our Holy, loving, forgiving, and Mighty God. He took the mess that Judah and Tamar made and made it royalty.

The Bible tells us that the older of the twins was Perez, the forefather of King David. We know that from the lineage of King David came our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of…JUDAH!

Revelation 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Judah was not the firstborn of the twelve brothers, but he was chosen. One might even expect that Jesus would come through Joseph or Levi, but Judah was chosen. Tamar was a trickster, but she was chosen. And guess what. No matter what your family history may be, you, too, are chosen by God. If you choose Him, you are chosen. Your Daddy might be in prison, or your Mother might have been a prostitute, but if God chooses you, you are just chosen. Your family tree might be filled with incest, murder, or mental illness. You have no control over where you came from or what your bloodline is. But lift up your head, The Grace of God is sufficient for all situations.

Psalms 24:7-9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

8Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

9Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

If you take what you may consider to be the mess of your life and put it into the hands of Jesus Christ, you have no idea what He can do with you. He can take you from rags to riches; from the projects to a palace; and from degradation to the highest of society. Just yield your life to Him and watch what He can do with you. You are not so bad that He cannot use even you.


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