We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns together. Take some time to think about the past week. If you have prayer requests to share, you can add them to the comments on this post. When you are ready, use this prayer from the Church of England to get started.
deliver us from a world without justice
and a future without mercy;
in your mercy, establish justice,
and in your justice, remember the mercy
revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Today's lesson is on Genesis 35:22b-26; 38:24-26; 49:10-12.
Our lesson this week is in three parts. The first part of our lesson lists all the sons of Jacob. These sons would become the tribes of Israel. The second part of our lesson tells the story of one of Jacob's sons, Judah. The third part of our lesson is a prophecy of the future of the tribe of Judah.
1. Jacob's Family
God promised Jacob that his descendants would be, "like the dust of the earth," (Genesis 28:14), and, "like the sand of the sea," (Genesis 32:12). This section lists all of Jacob's sons in order from oldest to youngest according to their mothers.
Jacob's first wife was Leah, who he did not plan to marry. She never experienced the love that Rachel, her sister and Jacob's second wife, experienced. When each wife was unable to conceive, they gave their servants, Bilhah and Zilpah, to continue having children with Jacob.
Leah's three oldest sons, Reuben, Simeon and Levi, all lost the favor of their father. Reuben lost his first-born privilege (Genesis 49:3-4). Simeon and Levi responded in violence to mistreatment of their sister (Genesis 34).
Judah would rise to a position of leadership among his brothers, both for good and bad (Genesis 37:25-28; 44:14-18; 46:28).
2. Judah's Humbling
During Old Testament times, a woman was provided for by her husband, and then by her sons after her husband died. If she did not have a son, her husband's brother was required to give her a son, who would be considered the husband's child.
Judah's oldest son, Er, married a woman named Tamar. Because Er acted wickedly, he was killed. Judah than ordered his second son, Onan, to give Tamar a child. When he refused, he was also killed. Tamar was then sent back to her father's house to live as a widow until Judah's third son, Shelah, was old enough to marry.
Judah never gave his third son to Tamar, so she took matters into her own hands. She disguised herself as a prostitute, and slept with Judah in order to have a child. She kept his seal and staff as collateral for payment. Then she went back to her father's house. When it was discovered that she was pregnant, Judah ordered her to be executed. She offered Judah's seal and staff as proof of who the father was. Judah realized that, while Tamar had done something wrong, he had done something worse.
3. Judah's Ruler
At the end of his life, Jacob gathered together his sons, and described what their futures, and the futures of their descendants, would be like. Even though Judah had made some poor decisions, the future of his descendants would be important.
Jacob's dying proclamation demonstrated his trust in the Lord's promise that kings would come from his descendants. A scepter symbolizes royalty and authority. Specifically, the future ruler would come from the tribe of Judah.
The person talked about in the prophecy would be a lawgiver, and have royal authority. He would have abundance. It would not matter if his animals ate from grape vines. Wine would be as common as laundry water.
Promises regarding the royal descendant of Judah were fulfilled in two ways. The first was through King David and his descendants who were kings of Israel. The second was through the promised eternal king, Jesus.
Judah and his family were not ideal ancestors for royalty. They had a lot of dysfunction. Judah himself made some poor choices. However, God's plan of redemption is transformative. He led a dysfunctional family to become the nation of Israel. From this family would emerge the Savior of the world. He turns wrecks into royals!
God of Jacob and Judah, we praise you for your kingdom in Christ Jesus. Thank you for inviting us to partake in your kingdom, despite our failures. Show us how we might live as citizens of your kingdom. In the name of King Jesus we pray. Amen.
Questions for Discussion
Today's benediction is from the New International Version.
Next week's lesson will be on Exodus 2:1-10.
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We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.