Monday, October 18, 2010


I'm going to have to monitor my husband's TV watching more closely. Actually, we both really enjoy a show called, Lie to Me. It's about this facial recognition specialist, who uses facial tics and expressions to determine if people are telling the truth. The main character is so proficient at reading faces, he can discern if a person is fearful, disgusted or humiliated. He listens carefully to their answers, determining if they're “deflecting” or avoiding the question. Well, my husband has decided to duplicate this TV show in real life. If I avoid answering his specific question, he says, “You're deflecting!” Hrumph! If I stretch a few details to make a story more interesting, he cries, “You're exaggerating!” What's wrong with embellishment? Well, embellishment is just another word for DECEPTION and it's been used with its cousin, AVOIDANCE, for centuries to manipulate people and circumstances. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had a history of deception…and now, Judah picks up where his ancestors left off.

Gen. 38:1 – “At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah.” (emphasis added)
  • Judah left when his father started mourning for Joseph, unable – or unwilling – to witness the consequences of his sin. Though it had been his idea to sell Joseph into slavery, he took the coward's road of AVOIDANCE and left his brothers to take responsibility for the pain he caused.
Gen. 38:2-11 – “There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and lay with 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. Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the LORD's sight; so the LORD put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, 'Lie with your brother's wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.' But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD's sight; so he put him to death also. Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, 'Live as a widow in your father's house until my son Shelah grows up.' For he thought, 'He may die too, just like his brothers.' So Tamar went to live in her father's house.” (emphasis added)
  • Stop to consider how many years Judah has lived among the Canaanites. Long enough to marry, have three sons, find a wife for them and then lose two of his sons due to wickedness. Judah has been hiding from his sin – away from Jacob, God's Covenant bearer. And he's doing everything humanly possible to protect himself and his third son. The problem is: we can't AVOID or DECEIVE God. Even at a subconscious level, God works His way into our hearts, nudging us toward Him. Here's what I mean…Judah required his second son to marry Tamar to “fulfill the duty of the brother-in-law.” Historically, this is the first reference to such a requirement. Later, this obligation is added to the Law of Moses, but for now, Judah is openly rebellious against God and deceiving his daughter-in-law. Regardless, God's protective hand is establishing the lineage of Judah…the family tree of Jesus Christ. When we refuse to submit to God, He remains a soft Light on our wrong path.
Gen. 38:12-19 – “After a long time Judah's wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him. When Tamar was told, 'Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,' she took off her widow's clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, 'Come now, let me sleep with you.' 'And what will you give me to sleep with you?' she asked. 'I'll send you a young goat from my flock,' he said. 'Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?' she asked. He said, 'What pledge should I give you?' 'Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,' she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow‟s clothes again.” (emphasis added)
  • Notice Tamar never lied to her father-in-law – but she deceived him. He saw her and assumed she was a prostitute – just as Jacob had seen Joseph's bloodied robe and assumed he was devoured by wild animals. Isn't it just a little bit delicious that Judah, the trickster, gets tricked? DECEPTION need not be a spoken lie – it is the spirit of the concept being communicated. Tamar intended deceit – as Judah had.
Gen. 38:20-23 – “Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. He asked the men who lived there, 'Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?' 'There hasn't been any shrine prostitute here,' they said. So he went back to Judah and said, 'I didn't find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, “There hasn‟t been any shrine prostitute here.”' Then Judah said, 'Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn‟t find her.'”
  • Okay, this is almost comical. Almost. Judah is a sinner trying to scrape together some semblance of integrity – that is, if it doesn't take too much effort. When a little integrity might unmask his sin, Judah reverts to AVOIDANCE because it's comfortable. For many people, when a situation requires too much effort, honor or disclosure, we avoid it, forget it, or pretend it didn't happen. The Lord calls us to do what's right; but when we fail, we should at least make the effort to make it right.
Gen. 38:24-26 – “About three months later Judah was told, 'Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.' Judah said, 'Bring her out and have her burned to death!' As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. 'I am pregnant by the man who owns these,' she said. And she added, 'See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.' Judah recognized them and said, 'She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn‟t give her to my son Shelah.' And he did not sleep with her again.”
  • When Judah was backed into a corner, AVOIDANCE and DECEPTION now impossible, at least he gathered his tattered integrity and covered Tamar with it.
Gen. 38:27-30 – “When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, 'This one came out first.' But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, 'So this is how you have broken out!' And he was named Perez(means “breaking out”). Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out and he was given the name Zerah(means “scarlet or brightness”).”
  • I find it interesting that the names of Judah's and Tamar's twins seem to embody the opposite of AVOIDANCE and DECEPTION. Perez, the little one who “broke out,” certainly didn't know the meaning of avoidance. Nor could Zerah, the one with the scarlet thread on his wrist, deceive the midwife by his shifty arrival. How great it would be if our children could be free from the weaknesses that plague their parents.
Lord, help me to meet difficult circumstances without hesitation and stand stronger in unshaded truth. I want to be so near to Your all-consuming Light that I can't avoid the truth that surrounds me - no matter how unpleasant, no matter how much effort it requires. Let my integrity and wisdom grow in proportion to my relationship with You.

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