I’m always amazed by the story of Tamar. She was a very gutsy lady. She put her reputation and her life on the line in order to fulfil the purposes of God. The Old Testament honours Tamar. People named their daughters after her, she is mentioned in the genealogy that leads to Jesus and her name was used in blessings at weddings.
However to our modern ears the story is very unsavoury. In that day it was a great tragedy if there was no heir to continue a family line and pass on the family inheritance. So Tamar dressed up as a prostitute in order to become pregnant by Judah, her father-in-law.
Tamar’s husband had died and Judah’s family line was in danger of dying out because Judah wouldn’t let Tamar marry his youngest son, and it seems he wouldn’t let him marry anyone else either.
The Bible honours Tamar because she sacrifices her own wishes in order to preserve her husband’s family line. Tamar was ultimately responsible for the survival of the descendants of the house of Judah, which is also, Jesus’ family line. Tamar was, as she understood it, fulfilling God’s purposes.
Judah is surprised when he realized that Tamar has tricked him. He also admits, “She is more righteous than I” (Genesis 38:26).
Isn’t that an amazing admission?
It seems this event has a profound effect on Judah. Early in Genesis we see him instrumental in getting rid of Joseph yet in the end it is Judah who is prepared to lay down his life for Benjamin.
God vindicated Tamar not only did she have a son, but she had twin boys, Perez and Zerah.
Tamar challenges our commitment to God. How much are we prepared to sacrifice in order to fulfil God’s purposes?