Genesis has been slowly and kindly teaching us a fact about God - he will accomplish his plans for good no matter how evil we may be. But Genesis is about to paint us into a corner with this idea throughout the rest of the book.
Joseph Sold Into Slavery
Jacob and his sons are living in Canaan. We learn that Joseph, the first son he and Rebekah had, was his favorite. So much so that Jacob made Joseph a coat of favor and adorned his son with it.
Joseph then has dreams that intensify the fact that he is set apart from his brothers. These dreams show his brothers and even his parents bowing down to him. His brothers are sick of it. They lure him to a pit, throw him in, and sell him to some slave traders on their way to Egypt. The brothers kill a goat, dip Joseph's favored coat in it, and lie to their father Jacob, telling him that Joseph was mauled to death by a beast.
The sin and dysfunction of Jacob's’ sons leave us wondering, “How this could possibly be God’s chosen people?” The story that follows is no different.
One of Jacob’s other sons, Judah, marries a Canaanite woman named Shua and they have three sons. But the first two are so wicked that God literally puts them to death. This leaves his firstborn’s wife, Tamar, widowed and without children of her own. Judah instructs Tamar to wait until his youngest son, Shelah, can grow up and marry her. But as Tamar faithfully waits, Judah wrongfully holds his youngest son back from her. Judah fails to do his part in continuing God’s blessed family line.
So Tamar decides to take action. In order to continue the line of her father, she disguises herself as a cult prostitute, seduces her father-in-law Judah and becomes pregnant. After Tamar’s pregnancy is exposed, she is nearly burned alive for her immorality. But when she reveals that Judah is the father, he says that she is more righteous than himself and lets her go.
Judah has defiled himself with a prostitute, engaged in pagan rituals, slept with and impregnated his daughter-in-law, and almost burned Tamar and her unborn children alive. This is such a tangled web of sin that it leaves us wondering what good can come out of it.
Where is Jesus?
Let’s take a look at both of these stories in turn and how they reveal Jesus to us.
Jesus Sold Into Victory
We should be reminded of the horrors Jesus, the final son of Jacob, went through that were similar to Joseph. Jesus was adorned with more than a multicolored coat of favor. He was robed in all the splendor and glory of God. He wasn’t just a favorite son of God, he was God’s unique son for he was God himself.
And yet he came to us, as Joseph went to his brothers and we treated him with the same evil. He was sold for money by Judas. He was stripped of his robe by soldiers. And it wasn’t some animals blood that was spilled to make it look like he died. He shed his own blood and truly died. And yet, through this, he became the true and better Joseph to whom the whole world and all creation bows.
Tamar was pregnant with twins. Perez, one of the twins, is listed in the Gospel of Matthew in the genealogy of Jesus. God redeemed this horrific story by making Tamar and her son Perez a part of Jesus’ lineage. Even in this dark corner of the Bible and Israel’s history, we see God working through brokenness to bring us healing.
Judah interceded for Tamar when she was about to die. He said that she was more righteous than he was. That is because she was faithful to God’s command to continue their line, at great cost to herself. Jesus is far more righteous than Tamar, but no one interceded for him at the cross. Instead, he was the one making intercession for us. He is Judah, pleading our case and taking the blame. He is also Tamar, the righteous one who was faithful at great cost to himself.
See For Yourself
I pray that the Holy Spirit would show you the God who can bring good out of the darkest situations. And that you would behold Jesus as the one who was stripped, defiled, sold, and killed in order to bring us into the family of God.