Sermon for Sunday, June 30, 2024

The Problem with Shame

Tucked in the Joseph (coat of many colors Joseph) narrative is the story we are going to work through today.  It is a narrative that places Judah, living in the land of Canaan, and his family.  At this time, he had three sons to a Canaanite woman that was his wife named Shua.  Er was their first son and he married a woman by the name of Tamar.  The Bible says he was a wicked man and he died.  Some scholars suggest that he abused Tamar.  According to cultural and biblical standards of the day, Judah gave his second son Onan to marry Tamar.  However, if he were to have children to her, her children’s lineage would belong to his dead brother Er.  So, he would have relations with Tamar but would “spill his seed on the ground” so that Tamar would not become pregnant.  For a woman to not be able to conceive was considered at the time to be cursed. He died too because of this wickedness, his abuse of Tamar.

Judah had another son named Shelah who was under the age of 13 at the beginning of the story so he could not be given to Tamar to be her husband yet.  This is where we pick up the story.

Genesis 38:11-30 NIV 11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household 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 household. 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.” 24 About 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!”

25 As 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.”


26 Judah 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.

27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28 As 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.” 29 But 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.[a] 30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.[b]

Perez means “breaking out”

Zerah means “bright red” or “scarlet”

I want to point out some areas that this story covers:

  1. Shame of grief (Judah lost 2 sons and then his wife)
  2. Shame of grief (Tamar had lost two husbands)
  3. Shame of abuse (by Er, Onan, and Judah)
  4. Shame of abuse (Judah’s interest in a prostitute)
  5. Shame on them (Judah’s judgement of Tamar)
  6. Shame on me (Tamar reveals the father of her twins)

Isaiah 1:10–20 (RSV): 10 Hear the word of the LORD,

      you rulers of Sodom!

      Give ear to the teaching of our God,

      you people of Gomorrah!

      11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?

      says the LORD;

      I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams

      and the fat of fed beasts;

      I do not delight in the blood of bulls,

      or of lambs, or of he-goats.

      12 “When you come to appear before me,

      who requires of you

      this trampling of my courts?

      13 Bring no more vain offerings;

      incense is an abomination to me.

      New moon and sabbath and the calling of assemblies—

      I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.

      14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts

      my soul hates;

      they have become a burden to me,

      I am weary of bearing them.

      15 When you spread forth your hands,

      I will hide my eyes from you;

      even though you make many prayers,

      I will not listen;

      your hands are full of blood.

      16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;

      remove the evil of your doings

      from before my eyes;

      cease to do evil,

      17 learn to do good;

      seek justice,

      correct oppression;

      defend the fatherless,

      plead for the widow.

      18 “Come now, let us reason together,

      says the LORD:

      though your sins are like scarlet,

      they shall be as white as snow;

      though they are red like crimson,

      they shall become like wool.

      19 If you are willing and obedient,

      you shall eat the good of the land;

      20 But if you refuse and rebel,

      you shall be devoured by the sword;

      for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Matthew 22:23–33 (NLT): 23 That same day Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question: 24 “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name.’ 25 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children, so his brother married the widow. 26 But the second brother also died, and the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them. 27 Last of all, the woman also died. 28 So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.”

29 Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. 30 For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven.

31 “But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead.”

33 When the crowds heard him, they were astounded at his teaching.

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (ESV): 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

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