Genesis 36-38..The genealogy of Esau, Joseph’s dream, Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery, and the sin of Judah and Tamar.
The genealogy in chapter 36 shows the faithfulness of God to his promise to Abraham. Esau continued the lineage of a people who would be opposed to heavenly things. His family had many possessions, and were influential to all those around. Chiefs and kings from Esau’s line ruled. In outward prosperity and popularity, the children of the God are often behind, and those that are attractive to the world are loved. This is a trial that all of God’s people will face if they are faithful. Jesus told us this:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”
In Genesis 37, Joseph dreams that his family will bow down to him, and then out of jealousy, his brothers sell him into slavery. The Genesis narrative consistently teaches us that sin against others is never isolated. When we commit one sin, we try to conceal it with another. In order to hide actions which are opposed to God, humans throughout history have turned to lying. For the Christian, this is insanity, because God knows everything. There is great freedom when we repent and place our faith in Christ, but hiding sins will only result in shame and more sin. Therefore, we should confess our sins to one another, as we’re told in scripture (James 5:16). If we’re keeping our sins hidden, it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel. We aren’t saved by our own righteousness, and a recognition of our desperate need for Christ is a fundamental first step in a right understanding of God’s rescue plan for us.
Genesis 38 is a beautiful chapter, despite Judah’s sin. On the surface, one could read this chapter, and pridefully boast that our conduct is better. But, if we’ve been saved, this is exactly what we’ve been rescued from. While the behavior of Judah and his family is disgusting, the story demonstrates God’s grace to sinners. It is truly amazing, that of all Jacob’s sons, our Lord should spring out of Judah (Hebrews 7:14). But, this is just like God, to redeem and restore the most unlikely, in order to make His glory known. This is what we see in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’”