A Lineage of Grace - Tamar
Did you know that the bible is full of amazing stories of God using incredibly broken people for unbelievable things? I bet not all of you know that girl power is a foundation of the lineage of Jesus. Think i’m kidding? Well, lets have a look at Tamar, the daughter in law of Judah and an ancestor of Jesus that the bible goes out of it’s way to include and accept despite the rejection and abandonment she faced.
Tamar was a young girl in an arranged marriage to a pretty awful dude. In fact the bible describes Er as ‘evil in the sight of the Lord’. He however died, leaving Tamar childless and a very young widow. The custom of the time was because Tamar had no children to look after her later in life, she would then marry the next brother and fulfil her duty to her first husband. Judah, the father of the family said to his second born son Onan, the one who would marry Tamar next, ‘perform your duty as a brother-in-law; be her husband and raise children for the name of your brother’. Yet Onan was a deceptive man and did everything he could to not let Tamar conceive. In the end, Onan died too leaving Tamar feeling like a failure to their family, and left Judah, his wife and last remaining son believing that Tamar had a curse over her causing the death of the two brothers. She was then shipped back of to her fathers house to live until the last son Shelah had grown up enough to be married to her. The truth was, Judah and his wife were deceiving Tamar and did not plan to let her marry their last son though it was her right.
Tamar had been poorly treated, a widow twice, rejected, abandoned and had her right of marriage and having children away from her, all before she was 20 years old. Judah had thrown her away as worthless and not worthy of being his last son’s wife.
Yet the challenges she faced did not restrict her God given purpose which was to be a direct ancestral link to Jesus.
Tamar persevered through her hardship and trials and long story short, was used by God to teach Judah a lesson in trusting Him, a lesson in letting go and a lesson in recognising the righteousness in Tamar and his own wrongness. Tamar bore Judah twin boys while dressed in a disguise during a moment of weakness by Judah who did not recognise her. Instead he gave her his staff and signet ring as payment and went about his day. When Judah had heard that Tamar had been dressed in a disguise and seen with a man, he ordered her to be burned to death for her actions. Tamar presented his staff and ring to him and he fell to the ground in shame and saw righteousness in her that he knew he lacked because of his deception and withholding of his last son from her. It was from one of the twin boys, Perez, that the line to Jesus would continue.
Tamar had been shunned, but God accepted her.
Tamar had been rejected, but God included her.
Tamar had been deemed unworthy, but God placed her in the lineage of Jesus.
The fact is, Tamar sets an example of God’s big plan to send His son so we could all be accepted, so that we could all be included. It all ties in very well to the true meaning behind Christmas. The coming of Jesus of was the fulfilment of acceptance for all. Everyone is able to be accepted by God. Everyone, no matter how broken, how many trials and challenges you face, no matter what you have done or what others have done to you. You can take one look at Tamar, a two time widow, a rejected daughter in law and an one off prostitute, and realise that if God can take all that brokenness and pain and still use her life to hold immense purpose, such purpose to the point where her life played a part in the coming of Jesus, then my goodness can he use us for His glory.
Now if God can use brokenness like Tamar, and Judah for that matter and create something as wonderful and world changing as Jesus, then what is holding us back from realising that the unexpected challenges that we face today will not restrict us from the purpose and plan that God has for us.
God created a lineage of grace out of brokenness, and He can take our brokenness and turn it into something beautiful and purposeful too.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. - Isaiah 61v3
(This is a five part series, keep an eye out for the next Lineage of Grace blog post about Rahab. Also check out Francine Rivers book ‘A Lineage of Grace’ for the full stories in novel form)