No Laughingstock

Genesis 38:20-30

20Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. 21He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?”

“There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said.

22So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’” 23Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”

24About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!” 25As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.” 26Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

27When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez. 30Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.

To Quit or Not to Quit

Have you ever done something that you assumed as a laughingstock or mockery but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for you? Have you ever done something peculiar as oppose to popular trend that turned out to be beneficial for you?

Imagine this: Your parents have established a stable business. They have a good number of loyal customers. You are expected to be the heir. You have learned the trade.  You know how to manage the said business. Won’t you continue helping your parents? Or, will you quit and find more challenging career path of your choice?

Here’s another situation: You have a good-paying job. You are doing great. Progress is slow but sure. Will you quit and explore another career path of your choice?

Both situations offer a stable future: One is heir of established company and the other is regular employee. The challenge is decision to change or not to change careers. Will people question your sanity if you quit a stable job to explore another career path?

In Mark 1:16-20, 16As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18At once they left their nets and followed him. 19When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

Simon and Andrew were casting a net. It was not recorded if they were owners of the net but it implies that they were expert fishermen. They can provide for their family. Fishing is a stable job. As long as there are fish, they have a source of income.

James and John were preparing not just one piece of net but a number of nets. Their father Zebedee may have established a fishing industry. It’s assumed that Zebedee was well-known in the fishing industry. He has hired men. His fishing industry should have produced good income so that he can employ a number of people to help.

Simon and Andrew have stable jobs as fishermen. James and John were heirs to the fishing industry of their father Zebedee. Yet, when Christ called them, they left their source of income immediately and became full-time fishers of men. There is a great practical transformation of lifestyle once we believe and follow Christ as our Lord.

It may not be written, but the neighbors of Simon, Andrew, James and John may have been puzzled when they left their jobs. To have a stable source of income is great life one can have anytime. In our generation, everyone may strive hard to secure a good paying job. To quit a stable job just to serve Christ full-time is not very popular decision.

Before deciding to join the full-time ministry, one needs to be assured of calling.

The Holy Spirit will clearly tell if a believer is called to join the full-time ministry. When God calls someone to full-time ministry, there’s no pressure. There’s no doubt. There’s no what ifs. Instead, there’s a empowering joy and peace to follow Christ.

Spreading the gospel is not limited to full-time ministry. The Lord has redeemed us from our old life to have a new life in Christ. With new life in Christ, we are conscious of what we do, full-time ministry or not, why? Our activities are proofs that Christ has transformed our old lifestyle to new lifestyle. New life is intentional witnessing lifestyle.

One preacher said (David Platt), “God has redeemed you to spread the Christian gospel and not to dwell in a Christian bubble—exclusively Christians only.” Christ said in John 10:16, 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 

The Lord takes care and keeps bringing into God’s family those who belong to Him. Christ’s care for His sheep is a great contrast to the character of Judah when he decided to ignore what belonged to him. Judah sent a young goat to redeem his seal, cord and staff from the woman. When they can’t find her, he decided to forget about it

1. Redeem

20Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. 21He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?”

“There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said.

22So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’” 23Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”

When Judah failed to redeem his seal, cord and staff, he quit searching for them. The woman who took them was nowhere to be found. People in the place where they met claimed that there was no shrine prostitute. Judah assumed that if he would search further, he might become a laughingstock if people would hear what he did.

Have you made a terrible decision but the outcome you expected is not what happened? And because of that, you feel like you just made yourself a laughingstock.

Judah had easily trusted anybody. He trusted a Canaanite friend so that he lived with Canaanite people. The Canaanites may have been kind to him, why? They wanted to work for him. Judah entrusted his seal, cord and staff to the woman who disguised as prostitute. Later, he realized that what he did could make him a laughingstock. Judah made a terrible mistake that he assumed to be an object of mockery after he failed to redeem his belongings. So, he just decided to forget about them to save his face.

Many of us, if not all of us, have made terrible mistakes that haunt us. Do you worry that others may learn about your past mistakes? Have you done a terrible mistake that made you feel guilty or embarrassed, and you wish your friend may not learn about it, or, you are scared others may blame you, and say, it’s your fault if it’s tragic?

If so, you are facing a battle that you cannot to win. You’ve no hope of victory.

King David said in Psalm 20:6-9, 6Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. 7Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. 8They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. 9Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!

In the time of King David, horses and chariots may have been the most advance and progressive military acquisition comparable to missile, nuclear, or fighter jets of our generation. Many people are scared that nations with nuclear weapons will attack.

Can we sense the confidence that King David had when he trusted in the Lord?

What if World War III breaks out and nations would use nuclear weapons?

We can worry about our future but worry can’t do anything to change a situation.

Instead of worry, we’ve got to be very sure that we have faith and believe that we really are redeemed by the blood of Christ. It says in Galatians 3:14, 14Christ redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

By faith, we trust that Christ has redeemed us from the eternal punishment, and gave us the Holy Spirit as a pledge that Abraham’s blessing which includes eternal life might come to us. Have you sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life, yet?

When the Holy Spirit bears in us the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, we also experience partially a sense of life in heaven. Don’t forget! Don’t take it lightly! Make it sure that Christ’s Spirit bears fruit in your life as a result of your faith in the Lord.

2. Result

24About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”

When Judah learned that his daughter-in-law was pregnant, he was furious and wanted her to be burned to death. That is very similar reaction of many people when we commit terrible mistakes. They are ready to condemn. Making terrible mistakes that cannot be reversed make us worry, feel guilty, embarrassed, even paralyze to move on.

Prophet Nathan

King David committed adultery with Bathsheba. Then, he planned the death of her husband to cover his adultery with Bathsheba. Prophet Nathan rebuked King David. It says in 2 Samuel 12:13, 13Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 

The wickedness of King David was recorded as object lesson for repentant hearts. The Lord knew that King David was very repentant of his wickedness. He readily forgave him. King David sensed that God has removed the guilty feeling caused by his wickedness, and he was ready to move on without being haunted by his terrible mistakes.

David prayed in Psalm 51:9-12, 9Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

David’s prayer explains clearly that if we confess and repent of our sins, God will blot out and erase our transgressions, and He won’t remember them anymore. Do you want God to renew you, make your heart pure and give you the joy of your salvation? Willing spirit to obey God proves that relationship with Him has been restored. So make sure that you have the Spirit of Christ as a pledge that you have been renewed.

25As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.” 26Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah was accused of adultery. What she did may not be morally acceptable to everybody but when she kept secure the pledge that Judah gave her, they saved her from death. She came out righteous before Judah.

Similarly, our terrible mistakes that may not be morally acceptable among others even believers but God has already forgotten them when we repented. People may still find fault to make us feel guilty or embarrassed. In Christ, we are righteous before God.

It says in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

As we reflect on Christ’s crucifixion, death and resurrection, we are reminded that He reconciled us with God. We have been born into new creation belonging to God. Our name has been recorded in the Lord Book of life. It says in Revelation 21:27, 27Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

So, if nothing impure can enter heaven, and we (as believers of Christ) have hope to enter heaven, does it mean that we are already pure? In a sense we are, but not yet. By faith in Christ, we hope to enter heaven one day but as long as we haven’t entered heaven yet, we still have tendency to commit impurities in God’s eyes.

Do you know for sure that you will enter heaven when God’s right timing comes? Have you received the seal from God that guarantees your eternal life, yet? It says in Ephesians 1:13-14, 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Do you sense the presence of the seal, the Holy Spirit in your life? Has the Holy Spirit produced fruit in your life yet? The fruit of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace…) help us know that we are sealed and made certain that we are righteous before God.

The seal, cord and staff of Judah that Tamar received as pledge became proof that what she did may have been morally unacceptable to others but they certainly prevented her from being burned to death. Judah considered her as righteous person. Eventually, Tamar gave birth to twin brothers as recorded in the Scripture.

3. Record

27When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez. 30Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.

The scarlet thread that the midwife tied around the wrist of the first born baby was very significant. It served a sign for them to record which one came out first. The child who was born first gets the double portion inheritance–the right of the firstborn.

The name ‘Perez’ means ‘breaking out’ and the name ‘Zerah’ means ‘brightness.’ Perez the firstborn son of Judah with Tamar became great grandfather of King David who was an ancestor of human Jesus. Did God approve the morally unacceptable activity of Judah so that Perez was included in the genealogy of human Jesus?

God could have chosen Joseph to be in the direct ancestry of Jesus because Joseph was more righteous than Judah. Or, God could have designed Shelah Judah’s son with his wife, right? Why did God choose Perez, Judah’s son with his daughter-in-law?

Although Tamar was a Canaanite woman, she turned out more righteous than Judah, as Judah himself admitted it. This is not to promote activities that are morally unacceptable to believers. It was meant to teach us that God sees beyond our sinfulness if He chooses anyone to be His instrument to accomplish His purposes. Tamar was not pure Israelite but she served as God’s instrument to accomplish His purposes.

When everything has been said and done, ask yourself: “Have I done what the Lord has wanted to accomplish through me? Did I serve the purposes of Christ? Have I testified about the transformation that Christ has done in my life?

It says in Revelation 20:12, 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

Apostle John the beloved disciple was given the privilege to see and record things that were about to come in the near future. He testified that everyone great and small will be judged according to their activities as recorded by the Lord. We are reminded to be mindful that everything we do has been recorded as basis for God’s judgment.

Did you know that everyone in heaven will know how much righteousness a believer has done? Each believer will be given fine, bright and clean linen to wear in heaven during the Wedding Dinner of the lamb. Maybe, if we received long or short linen, it all depends upon the righteous acts that we have done while on earth.

It says in Revelation 19:7-9, 7Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people. 9Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

Ask yourself: Will I be rejoicing before the Lord eternally?

Will I be wearing long linen or just mini linen during the Wedding of the Lamb?

The Wedding of the Lamb is the Grand Celebration for all believers welcomed into the family of God. Will you be there? Make sure of it before it’s too late!

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