RUTH: WEEK THIRTY-FOUR
Epilogue (Part Four)
(Click here to listen to the seventh Ruth teaching)
Verse of the Week
“THEREFORE COMFORT ONE ANOTHER WITH THESE WORDS.” 1 Thessalonians 4v18
More Words from the Father
1 John 4v7-5v21
1 Thessalonians 4v13-5v11
From my Heart
We’ve read the stories of Ruth and Naomi, Boaz and Orpah, Elimelech and his sons. Add to that mix King Eglon, Rahab, Salmon, Tamar, and several others. In the process, I’ve told you about me - my fears and my failures, my life and loves. But what about your story?
I’ve gathered together ten questions for you. Ten queries about who you are and who you want to be. I’ve left no room for you to fill in the blanks, for these are thinking questions – the kind you bring before the Father in those quiet, questioning hours before life’s pressures push you through your day.
I would urge you to ponder prayerfully. Think about your relationships, examine the way you use your time. Every once in a while we need to take stock of our lives and make sure we are who we want to be, that we’re doing what our Redeemer redeemed us for. After all, your story will end someday too.
From my heart,
1. Who am I?
2. Who do I want to be?
3. What’s stopping me from being who I want to be?
4. What do I need to do now?
5. What kind of woman do I want to be when I’m old?
6. Who do I want to miss me when I’m gone?
7. Who needs more of me now?
8. How can I organize my life to make this happen?
9. Where does God fit into my wants and wishes?
10. Am I going after God with every ounce of my being?
Tamar was Perez’s mother. Her story reads like a desperate soap opera set in the middle of the great patriarchal biographies. It is an ugly story, filled with deception and danger. This is not a history to be proud of. So why is it here? Why highlight this particular tragedy by including it in both David’s and Jesus’ genealogies? What is there about this story that the Author of the Scriptures wanted to be sure to communicate to us?
The story starts with Judah, one of the twelve sons of Israel, separating himself from his family. He is appalled at the shameful plot he got involved in to sell his brother, Joseph, into slavery in Egypt. Watching his father grieve over the loss of his younger son was Judah’s undoing. Instead of staying to face the consequences, Judah ran from his family in a futile attempt to forget his guilt. While away, he met a woman, married her, and started a family.
His firstborn son, Er, needed a wife so Judah found him a Canaanite bride by the name of Tamar. Because of his evil ways, God chose to take Er’s life, leaving Tamar a childless widow.
Following the levirate practice, Judah demanded that his next son marry Tamar, which he did with great reluctance. Onan took advantage of Tamar’s situation by enjoying the privileges of sexual pleasure for himself but “spilling his seed” in order to prevent her from getting pregnant. God took him too.
By now Judah is looking on Tamar with suspicion. Two sons dead on their honeymoon! Making promises he has no intention of keeping, he sends Tamar back home to her father’s house to wait for his next son to grow up. Years pass. Tamar knows that her future is sealed if she does not get a son soon. So she concocts a deception of her own. Knowing that Judah is now a widower, she dresses up like a prostitute and offers herself to him in exchange for payment. Without so much as a twinge of conscience, Judah has sex with the disguised Tamar for the price of a goat. She gets pregnant.
Three months later, a rumor reaches Judah that his ex-daughter-in-law is pregnant with an illegitimate baby. Outraged, Judah demands her death by burning. When Tamar is roughly dragged in front of him to be humiliated before her death, she rises up to bring evidence that it is Judah himself who is the father of this child.
Silenced and humbled, Judah acknowledges his sin in the matter and saves her life. Soon after, Tamar gives birth to twin boys. One of them, Perez, is named in the family of King David, and hundreds of years later, in the genealogy of Jesus.