Genesis 38:1-12 God’s grace is greater than man’s misdeeds

Genesis 38:1-12

And it came about at that time, that Judah departed from his brothers and visited a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; and he took her and went in to her. 3 So she conceived and bore a son and he named him Er. 4 Then she conceived again and bore a son and named him Onan. 5 She bore still another son and named him Shelah; and it was at Chezib that she bore him.

6 Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. 10 But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also. 11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up”; for he thought, “I am afraid that he too may die like his brothers.” So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.


Chapter 38, if omitted would permit the narrative of Joseph to progress very smoothly. Most significantly, this section holds information to the unreveling and development of the holy lineage. It also underscores God’s providence in Judah’s career in protecting the holy seed from contamination. Today’s devotion reminds us of God’s unfailing grace in preserving our blessing amidst our human follies and misdeeds.


And it came about at that time, that Judah departed from his brothers and visited a certain Adullamite.

Judah's departure can be understood as him venturing out into the nations. It carries a negative connotation of him departing from the values of his forefathers. First, he forged a close alliance with Hirah, a Canaanite. And chancing upon a daughter of Shua, who is another Canaanite, he took her and went in to her. Abraham insisted that Isaac should not marry a Canaanite (see Genesis 24:3). Isaac and Rebekah objected to Esau's marriage with the Canaanites and sent Jacob back to their hometown in search of a wife (see Genesis 27:46-28:1). One can presume that Jacob would insist the same for Judah. Nevertheless, Judah departed from the sacred traditions despite his father's antipathy. Judah's unnamed wife bore him three sons in succession: Er, Onan and Shelah.

Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.

According to Near Eastern and biblical practices, if a man died childless, the deceased man's brother should marry his widow to raise up descendants in the deceased brother's name. Er died for reasons unknown to the readers other than him being evil in the sight of the Lord. In this context, Er's brother Onan was responsible to raise up offsprings for Er so that his name might not be blotted out. But Onan, in order not to diminish the inheritance of his own offspring wasted his seed on the ground. Onan's selfish disregard for his deceased brother and wife caused his own demise.

It was tragic that both sons died upon marrying Tamar. However, unknown to Judah was the cause of his sons' death. Thus, the blame unjustly fell upon Tamar who was perceived as the jinx of the family. And Judah forbade Shelah to become Tamar's next husband because "I am afraid that he too may die like his brothers." But providentially, God prevented evil men from participating in the holy lineage of Christ, the Saviour.


God’s grace is greater than man's misdeeds.

The children of Israel were facing a continual onslaught of godlessness by the unholy Canaanites. Judah’s alliance and marriage with the Canaanites not only presented a grave departure from Abrahamic values, it threatened the integrity of the holy lineage. Besides Judah, Simeon also married a Canaanite (see Genesis 46:10), and Joseph an Egyptian (see Genesis 41:45). It is no surprise that Judah’s sons were evil and deemed unfit to participate in the holy lineage. Hence, they were disqualified by untimely death. And even Judah’s own superstition was providential in excluding Shelah from the holy lineage. The devil had wanted to use the Canaanites to taint the holy seed. When all viable options to perpetuate the holy lineage have been closed off, God beat the devil in his own game by using Tamar, a Canaanite and a scandelous union with Judah to birth the seed of righteousness: Perez. Indeed, the craft of the devil and the misdeeds of man cannot scuttle God’s plans to bless his children.

When you find yourself in an irreparably hopeless situation, and when all circumstances point to the actualisation of your worst fears, God can still turn things around, if you do not give up. God promises believers a blessed legacy for their future generations and will under no circumstances allow the lineage of righteousness to be broken.

Therfore, we must affirm our souls that God’s sovereign grace will prevail even in the darkest of times. We have to be diligent in rejecting all negative suggestions and subject all circumstances under God’s promises, which is the word. Faith is trusting the divine word even when nothing makes sense. Therefore, we must never dwell on our circumstances, but saturate our minds continually with the word from which comes our salvation. When God’s people persevere in the word, God will in His perfect time come through for us.


Are you facing constant strife in your family and community? Do not despair, only believe that peace will prevail. You can bring about God’s peace by sending the angels to your family and community to destroy the forces of hate, greed and dominance.

In Jesus’s name, I send the angels to my family members. Search out the spirits of hate, greed and dominance and destroy them. Cleanse their minds and imbue within them the Spirit of peace, and goodwill.

Are you facing a financial situation? You can bring about God’s blessing first by breaking the curse of poverty and by changing your mindset towards work. God does not take pleasure in slothfulness or a self-serving mentality. And the purpose of work is to provide for your family so that you may be a blessing to the world.

Dear Lord, I recognise that it is the believer’s right to receive material sustenance for life. I break the curse of poverty in my family by the blood of Jesus. Prosper my career and use me as channel of blessing to the world. Grant me wisdom and clarity in the way that I should go. In Jesus’s name, I send out the angels to pave the way for my career and to prosper it.

Are you experiencing chronic illness or constant physical weakness? And there are no effective options available for treatment. Jesus said to the family whose daughter has died, “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she will be made well.” Luke 8:50. As Jesus spoke in the days of the gospel, Jesus is speaking to you today.

In Jesus’s name I rebuke the spirit of sickness. I command the one who bring about _________________ (state the condition) to be thrown into hell and never return. I summon the angels to attack them. And I command healing to come.

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