“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16
One of the arguments for the reliability and authenticity of the Biblical text is that the Bible does not try to hide its characters’ mistakes or character flaws. I am sure some people will say ‘what in the world is a chapter like this doing in the Bible’.
We read later in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1 that Judah and Tamar are mentioned as being part of His family tree. In doing so God is definitely not condoning either prostitution or having sex outside a marriage. Instead God’s Word is trying to communicate something of God’s grace and mercy: God can accomplish great things through us despite our mistakes.
The Bible does not tell us why Judah left his brothers but we know from previous Scripture that he does not do the right thing by getting a wife from the Canaanites. The Bible seems to emphasize it by giving us a snapshot of Judah’s miserable family life. The Bible tells us that his oldest son Er is wicked, and Er is judged by God for his wickedness. Judah’s second son Onan does not seem to be any better, and he is judged by God too.
I can hear some people saying ‘how can a loving God be so cruel’. I think that would be a typical response from the postmodern mind: we want to live our lives free of consequences. I think it is more appropriate to lay blame where it belongs: at the feet of Judah. If he didn’t rebel but instead chose to do God’s will, things might have turned out better. A mature adult does not blame God or other human beings: instead we take responsibility for our life.
Judah’s actions towards his daughter-in-law show that he is probably not walking closely with God at this point. This is a typical symptom of rebellion. It takes a rather shrewd plan from his daughter-in-law for him to realize just how evil and hypocritical he has been. He then publicly takes reponsibility for his actions by acknowledging that he has acted dishonorably towards his daughter-in-law. May we learn from Judah’s example.
Obedience cultivates patience . . . or does patience cultivate obedience . . . mmm . . . one thing is clear from this Scripture: Noah was a patient, obedient, thankful man. I wonder what he would have thought of our ‘instant everything’ culture. I think that this culture makes it hard for us to wait on God in obedience. If God doesn’t answer us or act on a request right away, we may think that He probably didn’t hear us, or we are not important enough, or He just doesn’t care . . . However, most of the time He is probably working out an answer to our request in a grand, glorious manner but when, because of our impatience, we take matters in our own hands, we may miss the marvelous answer He intended.
Noah is perfectly human. He makes his own investigation into the state of the post flood earth by sending out a raven and a dove. Then when the dove doesn’t return, Noah removes the covering from the ark, and see that the earth is dry. He still doesn’t leave the ark though. He waits on God’s command. Wow! Can you imagine the temptation to leave the ark after all of the months stuck inside?! From this I learn that it is ok to wonder whether God is finished working out His plan, as long as we don’t try to rush that plan into completion. Perhaps obedience cultivates patience then . . . 🙂
Noah knows how to say thank you. The first thing that He does after God sees him, his family, and all the living organisms on the ark through this trial is to thank God. God is so pleased by his thankful, humble response that He promises never to “curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done” as long as the earth exists. God extends His grace, giving humankind what we do not deserve, and His mercy, not giving us what we deserve.
It is important to remember that the Bible teaches that there is a day when the earth will cease to exist. One of the commentaries on biblestudytools.net ties Genesis 8 with this passage from 2 Peter: “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” Christians are looking forward to the day when everything will be restored to its proper order. Are you ready for it?