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Family Drama

Tuck snuggly between Genesis 37 and Genesis 39 is a peculiar break in the story of Joseph. Genesis 38, the tale of Judah and Tamar. If you're a new believer you probably have, at some point, started reading the story of Joseph, and ran into this interlude with confusion. If you’re a more seasoned reader of the Bible, you probably still find this interruption to be perplexing and even a little disturbing.

The story is about Judah who around the same time (or closely after) he participates in the slave trade of his brother Joseph, decides to leave home and find his way in the region of Adullam. We don’t know why he did this, but most assume it’s to get away from the pain and dysfunction of his father, Jacob’s family.

This would make the most sense, being that he and his brothers were carrying such a heavy secret and emotional burden over what they had done to their brother, Joseph, and that their father was in such deep grief over the loss of the person that Judah was so intensely jealous of.

It makes sense that he would try to cut ties and start afresh in a new land, with hopes of starting a new family with a new heritage. In fact, I suggest that there is nothing wrong with that. That might be the best next step, all things considered. Of course, the only right thing to do would be to confess his crime against his brother to his father, but even then it would be appropriate for Judah to leave and create space between himself, his father’s family and all the baggage between them. 

I do believe space sometimes can be a catalyst for healing and growth when there is seemingly insurmountable pain between people. Of course, as Judah quickly demonstrates that space is just that, a catalyst. If you never do the work to discover what caused the pain in the first place you just stuff it and carry it to the next place. Judah, almost as quickly as he left the drama of his father’s house, reproduces family drama in this new land he has come to call home. 

As the story continues, Judah married a local Canaanite woman and has three children with her.

Two of his sons turn out to be equally duplicitous and just as lawless as he was with his brother, Joseph, and his father, Jacob. His oldest son, Er, marries a woman named Tamar. The story goes on to say that because Er was wicked (for unknown reasons) and that the Lord saw to it that Er’s life was cut short, this left the second oldest son, Onan, the responsibility to provide a son to Tamar in order to carry on his brother's name as is the law and tradition of the ancient world they live in. Unfortunately, Onan is just as bad as his brother and father and is unwilling to father a child that won't carry his name, but is more than willing to take advantage of Tamar by having intercourse with her repeatedly without inseminating her. The Lord takes notice of this and causes the death of Onan as well. Realizing he is quickly running out of sons, Judah makes a promise he has no intention of keeping. He tells Tamar to go home to her parent’s house and when his youngest son Shelah is old enough to marry and provide children he will send him to marry Tamar. The rest of the story is fascinating and just as Jerry Springer themed as the first part.

Let me say this before we go any further. If God Most High can use this family to bring forth the birth and coming of our Messiah Jesus, He most certainly can use your family, my family and the imperfect family of the “Church” to reveal Jesus to the world around us. Let that sink in. There is nothing prestigious about the earthly family history of our King Jesus. This is a reassuring fact. 

Let’s go back to the main point. Why did Judah’s family continue this legacy of drama, pain and deception into this new land? Well simply stated, you can run, you can hide, but until you become honest about the pain that you caused and what was caused upon you by your family drama, you will always be destined to repeat it. No matter how far you go or how much time is between it, eventually drama and trauma has to be uncovered and confronted with the love of God, if we are to ever receive healing from it. Space and time just gives us the ability to see things with a fresh perspective, but space and time can’t heal our hearts. Only the presence of God can do that, and He will only heal what we invite Him into. Judah, like many of us, made the common mistake of believing that he could use space and time as a tool for healing. Of course, this does not work, you can’t start afresh by just stuffing brokenness down deep and not thinking about it. Eventually, when the time is right, that same brokenness will rear its ugly head and begin wreaking havoc in the same way it has before. There is only one remedy that we must, in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit, recognize where, when, and how we have been traumatized and then allow the healing love of Father God to confront it. Running from it is just prolonging its power over you. It does not matter how far you get away from the hurt or how long ago it was.  Until you confront old wounds you will always give them authority in new seasons. 

In the same token, it doesn’t matter how long you have been stuffing your wounds, Jesus is still willing and able to heal it. Praise God there is no expiration date on healing. If you will do the work of self examination and inviting Jesus in, He will do that work of healing your heart and restoring your life. He is that good. It doesn't matter how intense your pain or family drama may seem. He can bring healing and He can use it to bring glory to His name. 


Pastor John

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