Once upon a time a man (Judah) had three sons.

Er, Onan, and Shelah.

Er married Tamar, but he was wicked and died.

Judah told brother number two, Onan, to father children with his brother’s wife.

Onan slept with Tamar but withdrew at the last minute (read about it in Genesis 38:8-10 if you don’t believe me). Onan’s wickedness led to his death too.

Shelah was too young to marry, so Judah told Tamar to wait for him to grow up. But Judah went back on his word.

Trust me. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

You want a soap opera story, a tabloid exposé? You got it.

So Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute and tricks Judah into sleeping with her. Yuk. Her father-in-law.

Why am I telling you the story of Tamar?

Well, she’s there. She gets a mention. Fourth line of the genealogy, Matthew 1:3.

This messed-up crazy story features in the Christmas story.

Why? I don’t know…

…but maybe to show that there’s hope.

That Jesus came for the messed-up. To make things right. To restore all things.

In the words of Paul: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Written by Simon Lang

Follower of Jesus, husband, father, pastor of Neighbourhood Church Beckenham (a growing bunch of imperfect and ordinary people, who love God, want to get to know him better, and are seeking to be the people that God has made them to be), and part of the team at Insight for Living UK.

Read more of Simon's posts

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