From the archives:
Read Genesis 49:1-28
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come, and the obedience of the nations shall be his. Genesis 49:10
A Sinner and Strays
I know a single mother who’s made mistakes, big mistakes. She battled drug and alcohol addiction for decades. She’s had multiple men in and out of her life. She struggled mightily at times as a single mother.
But there is this one thing about her: she loves to take in strays. Even when she was a little kid growing up she’d take in stray cats and dogs (much to her parent’s disappointment). As an adult, she took in stray kids. Kids abandoned by their parents. To this day she still does. I believe she’s used by God in this way.
God and a Sinner
“Gather around,” Jacob said, “so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.” Jacob is making prophetic pronouncements about his twelve sons. In two previous posts on Genesis, we saw Jacob chastise Reuben for having sex with one of Jacob’s concubines, and we saw Simeon and Levi chastised for their anger issues. (see Sex and Your Future–Trading 45 Minutes for 1,000 Years and Steve Jobs, Jesus, and Anger)
But when he comes to his next son, Judah, we hear nothing but praise. In fact, Jacob even shares how Messiah will be associated with the line of Judah. (Genesis 49:10) In light of that praise, it’s interesting to remember Judah’s behavior eleven chapters earlier when he had sex with a woman he thought was a prostitute. Obviously, sex outside of marriage is wrong in God’s sight, but if that weren’t bad enough, this prostitute wasn’t actually a prostitute. She was Judah’s daughter-in-law posing as a prostitute. (She had her reasons–see previous post, Judah and Tamar)
It just amazes me God would choose Judah, the man who solicited a woman he thought was a prostitute, the man who slept with his daughter-in-law, as the one who would be listed in Jesus’ genealogy. (By the way, his daughter-in-law Tamar is also listed in Jesus’ genealogy. See Matthew 1:3)
As there was with Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, there are consequences associated with sin. And as we’ve seen from these prophecies uttered by Jacob, some consequences effect generations to come for hundreds of years.
But we also see from our text how God shows grace and mercy to sinners like Judah. He uses sinners. He uses people who have failed. He uses people who have blown it. He uses people like Judah. He uses people like David who slept with Bathsheba, and then had her husband killed in battle. He uses people like Jonah, who ran in the opposite direction God instructed him to go. He uses people like my friend who takes in strays. He uses people like you, and people like me.
Pray, right now.
Confess you’re a sinner like Judah, and David, and Jonah.
Then ask God to use you anyway.
[Image via: lars hammar Creative Commons]