When I watched the HBO special on Chernobyl, many of the first responders to the accident were so poisoned that, not only was their body destroyed, but they poisoned others. These people were buried in special coffins and then those coffins were covered in cement. Even as dead people, they were emitting radiation that would poison others. These first responders give us a picture of our condition apart from God. We are a toxic mess. The decision to reject God is killing us, but that decision is also killing others around us. What does God with our mess?
Sunday, in Genesis 38, we looked at Judah, a man who was a toxic mess. How much of a mess was Judah? He sold his brother, Joseph, into slavery.
“Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him.”
Later Judah rejected God’s command not to marry a foreign woman by marrying an Adullamite. (Gen. 38:1) He disobeyed God’s decrees of caring for his daughter-in-law, Tamar (Genesis 38:14). Since Tamar had no other economic options, she turned to prostitution. Not knowing it was her, he sought her services as a prostitute.
“When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, for she had covered her face. So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, “Here now, let me come into you”; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.”
Judah was a toxic mess. He was destroying people around him, like his brother Joseph and his daughter-in-law, Tamar. What did God do with Judah? He rescued him and them He redeemed him. Jesus comes from the line of Judah. In fact, Judah’s name and Tamar’s name are both listed in Jesus’ genealogy.
“Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar,
Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram.”
Both Judah, a sleazebag, and Tamar, a prostitute, are listed in Jesus’ family tree. Why would God allow “these kind” of people as a part of Jesus’ lineage? Because, as Judah reminds us, God is all about rescuing and redeeming people.
Rejoice with me in the redeeming nature of our God.