Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Where Do You Need God to Step In?

“And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. . .” (Genesis 38:7)

Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah. She lived in a society where girls were married young and expected to begin producing children shortly thereafter. As if that were not difficult enough, they would have no say in who their father chose to be their husband. Their father’s decisions often revolved around financial or other benefits the marriage would bring to the family. In effect, marriages were little more than business arrangements. Nevertheless, although the era and culture may be vastly different from ours, there are some things about marriage that are not bound by time or place, such as a young bride’s hopes and dreams—and fears.

Try to imagine being in Tamar’s sandals. Here you are: a young bride taken into a strange home of one man, three teenage boys—one of which is your new husband, and a mother-in-law. You quickly discover, perhaps on your wedding night, that your husband is not at all as you had hoped and dreamed. In fact, he is downright evil. You’re trapped. You have no rights. You might even pray to your gods, the only ones you’ve ever known. Maybe you even send up a prayer to Judah’s God—it certainly couldn’t hurt. Then suddenly, boom! Your husband is dead. If you were frantic before, that was nothing compared to this. Your mind races. “What’s going to happen next? Will I be punished? Am I with child? Will I be sent away? Will my family take me back?” Tamar has no answers; all she knows at this point is that her husband is dead.

“... But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death.” (Genesis 38:7)

When we finally get our first glimpse into the life of Tamar, it’s not looking bright. In a mere two verses, she is married, discovers her husband is evil, and is abruptly widowed. So much suffering! While these events are sobering—and this is only the beginning of Tamar’s story—right from the start we are given a glimmer of hope because Tamar is not the only one who suddenly comes onto the scene. For two full chapters leading up to these events, God is never mentioned. Then, all of a sudden, He appears—precisely when Tamar enters the story.

Based on the chronology, Tamar’s marriage to Er lasted between a few days to at most, a few months. While we do not know exactly how long Tamar’s marriage to Er lasted, the rapid succession of events seems to indicate that God’s judgment on Er came swiftly. Right from the start, we see evidence of God’s mercy for Tamar. He looked down from heaven and saw Er’s wickedness and Tamar’s helplessness. He did not have to step in — but He did. 

Think of a time when God intervened when you suffered. How did God step in? What impact did it have on your relationship with God?

Copyright © 2021 by Shadia Hrichi. Adapted from TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, a 6-week in-depth Bible study by Shadia Hrichi. Published by Leafwood Publishers. Used by permission.

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