pc-usa 2004-02-26 - Tamar

Lenten Characters, Part 1

Beginning this week, many of our churches will begin the commemoration of our Lord's sacrifice for our salvation. In keeping with that focus, each week, we will look at one Lent-related Bible character, and see some of what we can learn from her or him.

This week, we will think about someone involved in the redemption story, but born centuries before Christ Himself, Tamar.

Matthew 1:1-3 THE BOOK of the ancestry (genealogy) of Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the son (descendant) of David, the son (descendant) of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Aram.

If you want to read the details of Tamar's story, check out Genesis 38. But the Reader's Digest version is that she took things into her own hands, rather than waiting on God - and commited a sexual offense, as well. She slept with her father-in-law, to try to acquire the heir she had been promised.

Looking at Tamar on the surface, we may see little to emulate. Of course, it's never good to "jump the gun" and move ahead of God. And it's also always wrong to have sexual relations with anyone to whom we are not married. But paradoxically, her failures can teach us a lot.

First, we are reminded how we usually carve our own reputations with our behavior. As Proverbs 22:1a (Amplified Bible) instructs us, "a good name is rather to be chosen than riches." What do you think of when you hear O. J. Simpson's name? Most likely, the first thing that pops into your mind is not his football exploits, but rather his murder trial.

When we are online, we can often "unsend" mail, but in real life, we can't "unsend" our actions or words. We can apologize and make amends, and God can definitely help us make a new life. In addition, He can and will even use our mistakes for good. But it's often a painful, laborious journey.

But we can also be uplifted by the fact that someone who prostituted herself was still honored by God, as being among Christ's human ancestors. We can be encouraged that if God can use her, He can use anyone.

God can use: A murderer (See the Apostle Paul)
Someone who sleeps with another man's wife and then conspires to have him killed (See the Psalmist David)
An impulsive, disloyal follower (See Peter)
Someone with a speech defect (See Moses)
A former party boy (See Augustine)
A former slave trader (See John Newton, the author of the song "Amazing Grace")
Even you and me.


[email jan] cfdevcfpray@yahoo.com