Judah’s Redemption Story
Judah addresses his father in a very honest, direct, and loving manner. At this point in the story, Judah becomes the main spokesperson for the family and Reuben’s voice is no longer recorded in the narrative. He reminds his father of the situation and then makes it clear that he will take full responsible for Benjamin, and if anything should happen to his youngest brother, he would live with the weight of that loss for the rest of his life.
If you have been tracking with the story of Joseph’s brothers, you may be asking yourself this question: Who are you, and what did you do with the real Judah? Is this not the man who recommended selling his brother Joseph into slavery for a bag of silver? What happened to Judah? In order to make sense of Judah’s actions, we need to go back to Genesis 38 and explore this story. Genesis 38 seems to come out of nowhere in the middle of the Joseph story and really seems out of place. Why do we need to see this strange story about Judah and his family? I believe it is placed at this point to help us understand that Judah has been on a redemptive journey and that he has changed.
Genesis 38 tells the story of Judah that spans the time prior, during, and up to the twenty- one years of Joseph’s absence. Judah marries a woman of Canaan and he has three sons through her: Er, Onan, and Shelah. Judah provides a wife for his eldest son by the name of Tamar. We are told that Er is a wicked man and that God puts him to death. In order to continue the family line, Onan is supposed to act as a kinsman-redeemer for his brother through Tamar. He refuses to do this and he dies. Judah tells Tamar to wait until Shelah matures and then he will fulfill his responsibility as a kinsman-redeemer, but due to his fear of losing Shelah, he never follows through on this promise. During this time, Judah’s wife has passed away and he is now a widower.
One day, Tamar hears that her father-in-law is near and she takes off her mourning clothes and dresses up as a temple prostitute. Judah sees her and has sexual relations with her. He has no payment at the time, so he gives the woman his staff and his seal. He returns to the place with a goat to pay for the services provided, but the woman is unable to be found. Judah returns home and thinks nothing of it, but is told that his daughter-in-law is pregnant. According to the rules of the land, she is to be put to death. As they are taking her away, she presents the staff and seal of Judah as proof of the father’s identity. Judah comes face-to-face with his own brokenness and wrong-doing and Tamar is saved and will give birth to twins who will continue on the line of Judah.
Judah had to face his own brokenness and experience the difficulties of life in order to change. He began his journey as one who would sell a brother into slavery, but life began to work on him and shaped him into a man who was ready to sacrifice himself for the good of the family. Judah had a redemptive story that brought him to a better place. What is your redemptive story? What are the challenges that you have faced in life in order that God could use those events to make you into the person he has called you to be? Judah can speak into his father’s situation because he understands what fear can do, and he understands what it means to lose sons, yet he also realizes that those events cannot control our lives and we have to keep moving forward and doing what is right.
Joseph’s Redemption Story
Jacob finally relents and the eleven brothers travel to Egypt and come face to face with Joseph whose responsibility is to meet and question all foreigners requesting food. Joseph recognizes his brothers again, but they still do not recognize him. How is Joseph going to respond to this second visit? In a surprising twist in the story, Joseph invites the brothers to his house for a meal, which makes the brothers very afraid. They speak to the head servant, but the servant dismisses their concerns and he assures them that everything will be fine.
They meet with Joseph who makes inquiries concerning their father and then greets his brother Benjamin. Overcome with emotion, Joseph leaves the room and breaks down in tears. He returns to the group, but he does not reveal to them his identity; rather, Joseph continues to test his brothers through their seating order and providing Benjamin with five times the amount of food as the rest of them. How will his brothers respond to this?
Your Redemption Story
In concluding this portion of the Joseph story, we need to wrestle through a question: What do we need to let go in order for God to bring about healing/restoration in your life? Sometimes we are in very difficult places because we allow fear to control our lives and we refuse to move forward or to remove objects or people that continue to keep us from healing and restoration.
I want to encourage you to pause in the midst of busy schedules to seek God’s wisdom and direction in identifying the choices you need to make in order to continue in your own redemptive story.
Need proof of God’s healing and restoration? Listen to the podcast of this message and hear the amazing life-changing story of one man willing to share.