The story of Tamar and her efforts to secure her role as a mother in the lineage of Christ reads like a modern day soap opera. A Canaanite woman married to Er, the eldest son of Judah, Tamar thought she was in a desirable position until God declared Er was too wicked, so he killed him.
Then, as was the custom, Judah gave Tamar to Onan, his next son, so that he might produce an heir for Er. But Onan was not interested in that, so he did what he could to prevent Tamar from getting pregnant. This displeased God, so he killed him, too.
Judah had a third son who was younger, but he wasn’t thrilled with passing him onto Tamar, so he told her to go home and wait for Shelah to come of age. But time passed, and Judah seemed to have forgotten about Tamar, the childless widow. Tamar took matters into her own hands.
It’s hard for us to comprehend the whole scene of her disguising herself as a harlot and waiting for Judah to come her way. How did she know he would enlist her services? But he did exactly as she’d expected. Tamar got her baby and secured her place in the lineage of Jesus.
Had we been in charge of picking out the ancestry of Christ, we would not likely have included Tamar or Judah. Neither met the qualifications we would expect, and yet, they’re the ones God picked. Why? What did God see in them?
God allowed flawed individuals to populate his lineage to show the extent of his mercy and grace. We don’t have to be perfect in order for him to use us.
Scripture Background: Genesis 38