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The Big Picture

Words of Faith Final

The Big Picture
Words of Faith 7-5-2022
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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Genesis 38
At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. [2] There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and lay with her; [3] she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. [4] She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. [5] She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.
[6] Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. [7] But Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the Lord's sight; so the Lord put him to death.
[8] Then Judah said to Onan, "Lie with your brother's wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother." [9] But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. [10] What he did was wicked in the Lord's sight; so he put him to death also.
[11] Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, "Live as a widow in your father's house until my son Shelah grows up." For he thought, "He may die too, just like his brothers." So Tamar went to live in her father's house.

The story of Joseph seems to be interrupted by one of the raciest chapters in the Bible. This is not a text we would typically turn to for a devotional. Still, we must remember that all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:15-16).
Genesis 38 teaches us a number of things. One lesson is the danger of intermarriage between Israel and the Canaanite people. What resulted was quite a mess!
Another lesson concerns the sovereignty of God. The lineage of Jesus will be traced right through this tawdry story (Matthew 1:3). The line of salvation is drawn directly through the very sinful family that Jesus came to redeem. God was intent on continuing the line of Judah and the seed of Abraham for a very specific purpose.
Remember that Judah suggested that the brothers sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites (37:26-27). He then left and stayed in Adullam, about 15 miles northwest of Hebron. It may have been too painful or shameful to be around Jacob while keeping the terrible secret of the betrayal. Judah married a Canaanite woman, and they had three sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah. Er, the eldest, married a Canaanite woman named Tamar.
Judah's first son, Er, died because he was wicked. By custom in the ancient world, the husband's brother was required to marry his widow if there had been no children. This was to preserve the family line and name. The second son, Onan, was to marry Tamar, his brother's widow, and raise offspring for his brother. However, Onan repeatedly used the opportunity for sexual gratification. He took advantage of the situation but refused the responsibility that went with it. So God took his life, too.
After two brothers had died, Shelah was the last in line. He was not yet grown up, so this bought a little time. But in view of the fact that everyone who had been married to Tamar had died, Judah refused to give his third son to Tamar.
Who would prolong the seed? The continuation of the house of Judah lay in Judah's hands, but he refused to cooperate out of fear that he would lose his last son.
So what do we gain from this?
The big lesson is that bigger things are going on than just our little piece of the picture. Judah never seemed to see the big picture. He betrayed his brother Joseph, separated himself from the family, and somehow thought that isolation removed him from the story of God. Little did he know that his family was destined to be the key to the whole world's salvation!
Judah was prepared to end his family line rather than risk a third son. Interestingly, Abraham had the faith to lay Isaac on an altar if necessary, but a few generations later, Judah could not risk Shelah to the possibility of loss. We usually cannot see the big picture, but we can trust that God is at work on matters much more significant than we will know this side of eternity.
There is also a lesson here about the danger of isolation. Judah isolated himself from Jacob as a result of his own shameful sin. His boys grew up without a sense of their heritage. At a time when they could have been hearing about the faithfulness of God from their grandfather Jacob, Er and Onan were learning from the world the wickedness of selfish living.
A final lesson is about loving the world. John wrote: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15). Judah set out to love the world and taught his children to do the same. The love of the Father was not in him.
Are you trusting God for the big picture you cannot see? Have you isolated yourself from family, church, or loving friends? Isolation can be a damaging thing. Have you found yourself drawn to the world? Perhaps it is time to turn your heart toward the Father and get back on track.

Dear Lord, keep me on track. Draw me close to you even when I cannot see the big picture. Draw me near to others who can positively influence my family and me. Guard me against the dangers of isolation. Put Your love in me and keep my eyes upon You that I may not love the world. 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.