Offbeat #11 - Judah

There’s an interesting theme that runs under the surface of the Old Testament, particularly the book of Genesis. It’s the theme of the type of person God wants to work with. Is it just random or are there certain qualities God looks for? The story of Judah is just one of many stories that points to the answer.
Let’s take a bird’s-eye view of Judah’s life. Judah is fourth oldest of the twelve sons of Jacob. In the famous plot against Joseph by his brothers, Judah is the one who suggests they sell him, and this only after their oldest brother Reuben insists they don’t kill. Judah’s logic seems to be, “If we aren’t going to kill him, we might as well make money off him.” Nice guy…
This wasn’t the first incident like this in Judah’s life. In response to an offense against their sister, Judah and his brother Simeon, trick a nearby tribe into circumcising themselves. While the tribesmen recover, the two brothers surprise attack, slaughter them, and plunder their city. Taking advantage of a situation for personal gain seems to be Judah’s M.O.
Later in life, Judah’s selfish attitude is on display once again, when he refuses to uphold a promise to take care of his son’s widow, Tamar. Custom held that she should be married off to one of the younger brothers, but Judah refuses and sends her back to her family of origin in disgrace. Attempting to force Judah’s hand, Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute and Judah happily engages her services. She becomes pregnant and Judah, unaware of the fact that he was the father, shames her publicly. Yeah, I know; it’s a messy story.
Weirdly enough, however, Judah’s tribe is famous for being kind of the “chosen” tribe of Israel. Israel’s best king, David, is a Judahite. And while Israel would have many evil kings, they had a few good ones too, most of them being descendants of David. Bigger than all this though, is that the ultimate promise of God, the Savior Jesus Christ, came from Judah’s tribe. So, that brings me back to the question of what kind of person God wants to use. Of all the brothers, why did Judah get the nod, ahead even of his more famous brother Joseph or the oldest brother Reuben?
Well, the Tamar incident looks to be a turning point in Judah’s life. When confronted with his evil actions, he admits for the first time his unrighteousness. And while lots of people say they’re sorry, not everyone lives it out. Judah looks to be different. Years later, with Joseph gone and risen to power in Egypt, a famine comes upon the land of Canaan. The remaining 11 brothers set out to Egypt hoping to buy food. They don’t know they’re asking their brother, but they do know the power and status of the person they’re talking to. Joseph decides to test his brothers to see if they’ve changed at all, and so he plants a silver cup in his youngest brother, Benjamin’s, bag. He then has the bags searched and, as punishment, demands Benjamin stay as his slave. Judah, having promised his father to protect Benjamin, stands up to intervene, offering to stay as a slave in his place. He says to Joseph, “How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father.” Judah, who once had no problem sacrificing a brother for his own benefit and no issue breaking his father’s heart, stands now as a changed man. Repentant Judah has learned to trust God, even with his life. And God opts to bring his ultimate blessing from Judah’s tribe.

So, therein lies the answer to our question: what kind of a person does God want to use? Who does he want to bless? It’s the person who will truly repent and truly trust him.

Sean's Picks

A Tale of Three Kings - For the many Christians who have experienced pain, loss, and heartache within the church, this compelling story offers comfort, healing, and hope. Of all the books I've read in life, this is one of the few that has stuck with me for years. It taught me a powerful lesson on trusting God. Click the image below for more:

Missions Spotlight:
The Hoops

Hello to all,

We are overjoyed to announce that our son, Theodore Declan Hoops, arrived on September 20, 2020 at 2:43 PM Jerusalem time. "Theodore" means "gift from God" and "Declan" means "man of prayer." We believe that these names mark the journey that he and we have been through and the destiny that he is being called into. We were so glad to receive him. He and Kate arrived home from the hospital on Tuesday, and our girls were thrilled to welcome him.

We're grateful for all of your prayers for us and him throughout this pregnancy. We are in awe at the goodness of God.

Jeff and Kate Hoops
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