Monday, December 16, 2019

How Tamar Fits into the Story

I found this on Facebook: If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this: you are not that powerful.

That statement can only be appreciated when we grasp the magnitude of God’s sovereignty. God’s right and ability to accomplish His will without anything or anyone able to stop what He wants done.
We might challenge His rule, doubt His authority, even oppose His will, but in the end, God will do what God will do. He will work through natural events or step in to transform circumstances. He will override our mistakes, and even allow unjust things done to us to complete His plan. As Sovereign, He has no limitations and no competition.

Contrary to that, however, our life experience has been, whenever you mess up, you must be punished and lose your privilege. Make a mistake in football and they throw a flag at you. Make a mistake driving and you get pulled over. Make a mistake in a recipe and nobody eats your dessert.

Mistakes have caused us to lose a job or a relationship or money or a vehicle or a position. Some mistakes have made us give up and then paralyzed us to not want to try any more. Other mistakes have taken us out of the circle of good expectations and set us aside, feeling we deserve whatever we don’t get.

We’ve made mistakes consciously. At other times, innocently, thinking we were doing right thing, but it wasn’t. Occasionally, we had no idea what was going on. But even without control over the outcome, the burden of those mistakes has stayed with us and now exercises some measure of control over our lives. 

For some of us, the circumstances of our birth or events that happened to us along the way have misshaped us and created a self-image we are ashamed of. Or produced thoughts and feelings we had to work through.

I grew up my whole life being told by my brother I was adopted. That’ll leave you a bit unsure of who you are. It was only resolved ten years ago when I got a copy of my birth certificate to get a passport. Turns out I wasn’t adopted after all.

Well, what if you are God working out a lineage to produce the Savior of the World? You’ve chosen a family through which you’ll run that lineage, starting it all the way back with Adam and Eve and ending up at Mary and Joseph. You’ve determined to reveal the plan of that promise to Abraham, make it specific to Isaac and then carry it on to Jacob and within Jacob’s family of twelve sons through one specific son—Judah.

And everything was going according to plan until Judah’s sons wouldn’t cooperate. What now?

Gen 38:11-30

Matt 1:1-6 The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram. Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king.

Now, if we think God doesn’t use damaged people for something so holy, we probably also have mental categories of who is usable and who isn’t. We break them down by good, bad and ugly. Or a Santa list of who’s naughty and who’s nice. Who gets the blessing and who gets the stocking of coal?

How would we characterize people usable by God?
  1. Really good people. Nice people.
  2. Holy people, religious people, happy people.
  3. People who haven’t done bad things or said bad things.
  4. People who only think spiritual thoughts.
  5. People who pray 40 hours a day.
  6. People who keep the 10 Commandments.
In Jesus’ day they’d say: your righteousness must be on the level of the Pharisees to be acceptable to God. Or we’d say: God only uses the people in the top 10% of His list of choicest children.

Then you run into the Tamar and Judah story. And we say, that just isn’t right. God would never use something as non-sanitized as that. That can’t even be mentioned in polite circles. It shouldn’t even be in the Bible, yet, there it is.

God had brought Tamar into the family to produce the link in the chain through her. Knowing Judah’s original sons were evil, He produced a new son between Judah and Tamar. Though we’d judge her as unacceptable because of what she did, God used her to keep the promise alive.

Even Judah couldn’t blow God’s plan for his life as a conduit for the ultimate presentation of the Messiah to the world. He just wasn’t that powerful.

Job told us: I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2

God works from eternity. He pre-determines the beginning and the end, then extend His plans throughout the ages. He isn’t making things up as the story moves along. He doesn’t wring His hands asking: What am I going to do to get this plan back on track? 

No, God plans from the beginning to orchestrate what looks like a mistake into an essential part of the plan to produce the results He wants.

Tamar was in the plan from the beginning. She was Plan A. Even though Perez would technically be an illegitimate child born out of wedlock, he would be essential to carrying on the vision God had to deliver the Messiah to the world. God was using a situation and a child we would deem unusable.

Well, what does that say about us? Do we think we have something in our past, carried within our baggage that would forbid us from anticipating God’s best in our lives? Do we think we are unusable for God’s purposes and His blessings because of some mistake?

Remember: If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this: you are not that powerful.

Eph 2:1-10 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 

That doesn’t sound like a God who wants to treat us according to the label of our past but by the seal stating who we are in the present.

Rom 8:33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Satan? We’re taking Satan’s word over God’s?

If the actions of Tamar and Judah, which created Perez and continued the legacy on to Jesus, didn’t mess up God’s plan, how do we think anything in our lives as Children of God can stop God from accomplishing what concerns us?

 Remember: If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this: you are not that powerful.

God often uses “disequilibrium” to teach us valuable lessons. Disequilibrium happens when something comes into our life we are unable to handle or process. It unbalances us. God uses disequilibrium to get our attention by shaking us out of our comfort zone. It produces a challenge that can only be responded to by faith. I don’t understand this, but I believe God is at work.

We prefer unruffled lives, for God to make our lives smoother. But often God will take us through disturbing things that teach us how He can work through ugliness to make things beautiful. God is the One who makes beauty from ashes and gives us a garland instead of mourning.

Broken, abused, mistreated, misused,
Her life shattered and battered and bruised.
Now on her own, she was empty, alone.
Without hope and her future unknown.
Then a voice called her name, said, “My child I lay claim
To the brokenness you carry inside.
The pieces you hide, the tears you’ve cried,
Work together for the good I’ve designed.”
Whatever you hang onto as the reason you feel unworthy of God’s best… If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this: you are not that powerful.

  1. There is great peace that comes over us when we finally discover God is God and we aren’t.
  2. When it comes to God accomplishing what concerns us, His opinion is far more important than ours.
  3. When God is at work, He isn’t limited to only what we hand Him to work with, He is master of taking broken pieces and making from it something beautiful.
  4. You are the masterpiece of a God that will do what God will do.

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