By Pastor Dr. Shana Wise
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, the woman that comes to mind in the book of Genesis that I admire is Tamar.
Many commentators over the years have portrayed her as a scandalous woman, however, I look at her, as brave and smart.
She was a woman with little or no rights, and the men in her life mistreated her on so many different levels.
Tamar, when faced with a crossroads in her life (to be a forgotten widow with no children) chose to secure her future by any means necessary.
Tamar was a risk taker, to the point of risking her reputation and her life.
With her back against the wall, concerning her destiny, she chose to take a chance to get pregnant by her father-in-law. Tamar gambled on conceiving a child, the risk was high! The plan she had could have worked out or backfired, but I believe she had faith that she would conceive a child, in a once-in-a-moment chance, to secure her future.
Have you ever been confronted with a once-in-a-lifetime moment and a very decision you made would affect your destiny?
Have you ever taken a risk, not knowing how things were going to turn out?
Have you ever been so desperate that you consorted to doing things that you wouldn’t normally do?
It’s interesting how God can take what is perceived by many to be scandalous and turn it around to work for your good. That’s what He did for Tamar. He took the years of shame endured by Judah and his sons and gave her a double blessing through her twins. Not only that but Tamar was also included in Christ and lineage.
God made the wrong right in Tamar’s life. In the process, he also humbled Judah.
Genesis 38 NIV
Judah and Tamar
38 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. 2 There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; 3 she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. 4 She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. 5 She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.
6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so, the Lord put him to death.
8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so, whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so, the Lord put him to death also.
Why do you think the Lord dealt with these brothers so harshly (death)?
11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.
Judah perceived Tamar as a “widow maker”, instead of inquiring of the Lord because his sons died. His thought process, along with grief, caused him to send Tamar away with no intention of sending her again to marry his last son.
Have you ever thought something about a situation that was totally wrong? Did you act on it and how did it turn out?
12 After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.13 When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.
15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.”
“And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked.
17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said.
“Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked.
18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?”
“Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. 19 After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again.
It seemed like Tamar had thought about this plan carefully. She was detailed and calculated in her interaction with Judah. Tamar knew that taking a risk like this could cost her life, so she “got life insurance “(Judah’s personal belongings). Before the DNA test, there was Tamar!
What else can we learn from this passage?
20 Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. 21 He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?”
“There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said.
22 So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’”
23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”
Isn’t it interesting how God hid Tamar out of sight of the town’s people during her time when she posed as a prostitute? No one saw her, or her and Judah.
Can you look back over your life when you did some shameful things and God covered you with his grace and mercy?
24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result, she is now pregnant.”
Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”
25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”
26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.
God has a funny way of humbling us! He sees and knows all our deeds, and he has a way of making things right!
Have you ever been looked down upon by others and God redeemed you?
27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29 But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez. 30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.
Tamar was given “double for her trouble” through the birth of her twins.
Doesn’t her birthing experience sound familiar (Jacob and Esau)?
Another familiar tones in this story are the presence of deception. Judah’s family lineage, back to his great-grandfather Abraham, had issues regarding deceiving other people to get what they wanted. Yet with all this family dysfunction, God still made things work out (Rom. 8:28).
The story of Tamar is an interesting one about heartbreak, scandal, and redemption. We as well many have experienced these things within our families as well. In summarizing this lesson, we know that God is in control, and he sees all. Like the loving Father that he is, he has a way of fixing things, getting His Glory, and getting His will accomplished when his children mess up.
About the Author
Dr. Shana Wise is an ordained Pastor and CEO of Wise Choice Ministries (est. 2016). She is the founder of The Well Christian Women’s Network formally known as Christian Women Preachers United. Dr. Wise is the author of women’s devotionals Acts of Intercession and Chief Women Arise, The Impact of Your Election, and Basic Ministry Training Manual (all available on Amazon). She received a Doctor of Divinity degree in 2019 from St. Thomas Christian University. Her passion is to teach and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, equip others to apply the Word to their lives, and demonstrate the Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. She is a televangelist that appears on social media outlets. Shana is married to Deacon Ron Wise and is the mother of four children.
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