“She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” - Genesis 38:26
Life can get messy, and Judah made a mess of his life. Perhaps your life is in a jam right now. My mother (echoing some old preachers) often said, “God can make a straight line with a crooked stick.” Genesis 38 shows how God’s grace can give us hope in the midst of life’s messiness.
Judah chose a wife, Tamar, for his oldest son, but the oldest son died without children. According to custom, Tamar was given to the second son, to father an heir for his brother, but then the second son also died. The next brother, Shelah, was legally required to marry Tamar next. But Judah put off the marriage indefinitely. Perhaps he felt Tamar was cursed.
Desperate for her future, Tamar pretended to be a prostitute and seduced Judah to make her pregnant, without his realizing it. When he found out she was pregnant by prostitution, Judah accused her of immorality, but then Tamar proved that Judah himself was the father. Judah proclaimed, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” She later gave birth to twin boys, and the firstborn was named Perez.
Though Tamar was “more righteous,” she too was sinful. So are we. Christmas reminds us—in spite of our messiness—that God is in control. Jesus, our Savior, became a descendant of Perez (Matthew 1:3) so that the righteousness of God might be given to all who believe in him (Romans 3:22). What grace! What hope!