Genesis Ch 38 is not a chapter usually taught in Sunday School. There is no colouring sheet or Flannelgraph for this passage and when the producers of Veggie Tales were considering texts to turn in to episodes it is very unlikely that they thought about covering this chapter!
Yet, this Chapter is in the bible. Therefore, it is important.
In our series in Genesis we have just finished looking at the life of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, and now we have moved on to looking at the lives of his children who will eventually become the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel. Last week we saw how the oldest brothers became jealous of their younger brother Joseph because he was dad’s favourite and they sold him off into slavery.
The majority of the remaining chapters of Genesis focus upon Joseph. Next week we will see how he resists temptations and false accusations down in Egypt.
Firstly, we have to make it through chapter 38 and look at the opposite example. We’ll see how Judah, one of the older brothers, also heads away from the family and we’ll see a world of difference between the boys. Joseph left home because he was forced to, Judah left home because he wanted to. Joseph walked in integrity and rose to be a respected man, Judah became a disgrace and raised disgraceful sons. Joseph was known for resisting sexual temptation, Judah’s family is characterised by their sin regarding it. Simplistically, it seems that Joseph is good, and Judah is bad.
And yet, it is in Genesis Ch 49 that we learn that Judah is the tribe God selects as the kingly tribe, to rule and from which the promised Messiah would be born! As the family is moving to Egypt in chapters 46-47 Judah is sent ahead to make preparations, Judah has become the leader of the family. When the blessings are given out by Jacob to his children in chapter 49 Judah is given the special blessing, even more special than Joseph. How can this be? The one whose idea it was in the first place to sell Joseph into slavery, changes to the point where he is willing to be held accountable should anything harmful happen to his youngest brother Benjamin (Gen 43 & 44).
Somewhere along the way Judah does a 180-degree turnaround. The Bible doesn’t say when, but Judah changes. And God uses Judah to change the course of history. Judah becomes the line of Kings.
It’s interesting if God can use Judah, God can use me. If God can change Judah, God can change me. If God can take the character that nobody likes and turn him into the hero, God can do the same with me. Because God is in the business of doing the unexpected, and I’m so grateful he is. All this serves to prove that God is able to overcome man’s great failures through His grace. It proves that the same God who accomplished this in the lives of these characters recorded in Genesis can accomplish this in our lives.
Please join us this Sunday the 27th of November from 6 p.m. to study God’s Word as we consider this passage of Genesis and how God can powerfully work.