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Personalizing the Sin

Words of Faith Final

Personalizing the Sin
Words of Faith 7-6-2022
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2022
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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NOTE for those doing family devotionals. Chapter 38 is a PG-13 chapter for sure. Racy material ahead! JDH
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Genesus 38
[12] After a long time Judah's wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.
[13] When Tamar was told, "Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep," [14] she took off her widow's clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.
[15] When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. [16] Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, "Come now, let me sleep with you."
"And what will you give me to sleep with you?" she asked.
[17] "I'll send you a young goat from my flock," he said.
"Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?" she asked.
[18] He said, "What pledge should I give you?"
"Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand," she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. [19] After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow's clothes again.
[20] Meanwhile 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. [21] He 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.
[22] So 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.' "
[23] Then 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."

Remember that Judah had moved away from the clan of Jacob. He married a Canaanite woman and had three sons. Two of the sons died because of their wickedness. Both had been married at different times to Tamar. Because of this, Judah had refused to consider allowing Tamar to marry the third son. Now, on top of all that, Judah's wife died!
Tamar desired very much to continue the family line. She concocted an elaborate scheme to dress as a shrine prostitute and lure her father-in-law, Judah, into bed to finally become pregnant. Tamar must have noticed that Judah had an eye for such an encounter.
Sure enough, Judah noticed the veiled Tamar and contracted the deal. In the process, Tamar disappeared with Judah's "seal and cord." This would later prove that Judah was the father of her child.
And you thought soap operas were racy! This story reveals a woman set on fulfilling her obligation to carry on the family line at any cost. Tamar refused to be defeated by the stubbornness of her father-in-law. She ends up being a strange sort of hero in the verses ahead.
But the story also gives us a revealing glance at sin and the sordid practice of the "world's oldest profession." Tamar was not really a shrine prostitute; she simply posed as one to achieve a different end. She never actually received payment for the encounter. On the other hand, Judah was tempted by a pagan sex worker and contracted for sex. He will later discover that the "prostitute" was his own daughter-in-law.
The sin of prostitution breaks the seventh commandment of God. While Judah did not yet have God's codified command, it was clear to him that consorting with a shrine prostitute was not God's desire for him. Beyond this, the sin of prostitution is terribly damaging because it objectifies another person-- makes them an object-- and depersonalizes the wonderful gift of sexual expression.
I have often counseled those struggling with pornography (a different form of prostitution) to consider that a person in a photo is someone's daughter, sister, wife-- son, brother, and husband. If we contemplate how we would feel if someone we love were so exploited, sin is personalized shockingly. Judah will get that shock when he discovers that the "prostitute" he visited was his own daughter-in-law!
The great truth here is to realize that ALL sin is personal. Sin is personal to God. Sin is also personal to the people it hurts. Every woman driven by desperation or temptation to sell her body is a person loved by God. Women and girls selling their bodies or images of their bodies are sisters, daughters, granddaughters, mothers, and wives. This is personal.
We live in an increasingly objectified and depersonalized society. People steal from large stores, not realizing their sin is personal against God and everyone who will have to pay for the loss. Executives loot giant corporations without seeing the retirement they have stolen from workers or investors. The sex industry is rampant as it promotes the horrible tragedy of human trafficking.
What can we do? Lobby and vote for changes? Of course. But the best place to start is at home. The best beginning is to realize that the sin in our lives is not impersonal. Our sin affects God our Father. Our sin grieves the Holy Spirit our Counselor. Our continued sin devalues the work of Jesus our Savior. And our sin also hurts real people, ourselves to start with! The sin that we coddle may become a comfortable retreat, but it hurts real people born into actual families.

O God, forgive me for my sin. Cleanse me from unrighteousness. Give me an awareness of Your presence and how unrepentant sin grieves You. Personalize my life. Help me to see others the way that You see them. Give me a heart to reach out with the Gospel. In Jesus' name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2022
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2022 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.