“At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.”NIV

‘’There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man…He married her…” (2).

‘The events described in this chapter demonstrate the danger faced by Jacob’s family in Canaan: the danger of being assimilated into the surrounding Canaanite culture through intermarriage. Judah, now the preeminent son of Jacob, married the daughter of a Canaanite (verse 2). Though Jacob’s family had grown and prospered, they were still a tiny number compared with the Canaanites around them. How was God going to preserve His chosen covenant people as a distinct and holy nation in the midst of the ungodly Canaanites?

God had a plan: He would send Jacob’s family to Egypt. There they would not be inclined to mix with the Egyptians, because the Egyptians would soon begin to despise them: instead they would remain, free to grow into a distinct nation. Seventy members of Jacob’s family would go into Egypt; four hundred years later they would be a great multitude (Exodus 1:6-7). And the means of their entering Egypt and prospering there would be a seventeen-year-old slave boy named Joseph, second youngest son of Jacob!’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.185.

‘God had a plan’ – but regularly we find that His plans are vastly different to ours. His ways and thoughts are far higher than ours. I remember reading Jim Packer’s classic book ‘Knowing God’ early in my ministry, and it probably shaped my thinking more than I know. It hit me like a theological sledgehammer. I seem to remember Packer saying that God, in His sovereignty, even uses the sins of His people to further His purposes. It’s not that He wills them, causes them, or is responsible for them, but He definitely uses them. We see this in chapter 38.

2020, sadly again saw its fair share of high profile ministry ‘moral failures’. On occasions one hears of believers who are stumbled by the bad behaviour of a fellow-believer – even to the point of walking away from the faith and/or stopping attending church. But read the Bible. Read Genesis 38 for example. God has always had people in His family who give Him, and the family, a bad Name. It’s not that such behaviour is to be excused, but we marvel at the mercy and grace of God: at who He uses, and who He restores.

I only have to look in the mirror to see that His grace is amazing!

PRAYER: Help me Lord to so live, that I do not cause anyone to stumble, or give the ungodly further reason to revile your precious Name.