Genesis 38 is one of those passages of scripture that leaves us scratching our heads and wondering why it is even in the Bible. However, we must understand that all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for us. The best way to approach this passage is to consider the purpose of the book of Genesis and the Bible as a whole. There are several things we need to understand that will put this passage in perspective.
The book of Genesis is an historical narrative. The Bible is a fascinating book. It is a history book, theological book, literature book, and a prophetic book all in one. The book of Genesis is what we call, an historical narrative. It gives an accurate historical account of the early years of man and it introduces God’s redemptive plan for the world. The historical accounts recorded in the Bible are simply truthful events that occurred in the history of man and God’s redemptive plan. This does not mean that God approves of the actions of man. Rather, it shows man’s need for a Savior.
The purpose of the Bible is to reveal the sinfulness of man. This historical account in the life of Judah and Tamar shows just how sinful man can be. When left to ourselves, apart from Christ, we would all be most wickedly wretched and miserable. Man is truly totally depraved. Every part of man is tainted by sin. Our sinful nature should always be considered in every aspect of our lives. Sinning is not just what we do, sinners is who we are. The Bible, in particularly the Old Testament, reveals our depravity and our hopelessness.
The purpose of the Bible is to demonstrate the wonderful grace of God. The book of Genesis records the beginning history of God’s chosen people and His redemptive plan. Every wicked and sinful incident we see in the Genesis narrative shows the amazing grace of God toward His people. In spite of Judah’s sin, he is the father of the great kingly tribe of Judah. God’s grace overshadows the history of man. This serves as an encouragement to us all that no matter how bad we mess up, we are never out of the reach of God’s grace.
The purpose of the Bible is to point us to Jesus. The Bible is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything recorded in the pages of scripture points us to Jesus. As you read and study the Bible, you should always look for Jesus in every passage. Is Jesus seen in Genesis 38? Absolutely. His name does not appear and there does not seem to be any good recorded in Genesis 38, but Jesus is certainly there. He is there in his acceptance of Judah and Tamar even though they both sinned greatly. He is there in His love for Judah and Tamar. He is there in His mercy and grace. Look at Matthew 1:1-6. Whose name appears in the lineage of Jesus? It is Tamar. It is interesting how God uses people in spite of how sinful they are. This passage is in the Bible because it points us to our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is all about Him.
As you consider Genesis 38 in the context of the whole Bible, you see a beautiful picture of the love and grace of Jesus. Praise God for His matchless grace!