Guilt to Grace



By Carolyn Dale Newell

So Judah acknowledged them and said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son.” And he never knew her again.

Genesis 38:26 NKJV

She felt deceived, used, and disrespected. Her future seemed dismal and hopeless. She had done the right thing, but where did it get her? Now, she devised a plan.

This was Tamar, the oldest of the great, great… great-grandmothers in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:4).

Tamar was a Canaanite. Although the Jews were forbidden to marry Canaanites, Judah and his sons did. Judah gave Tamar to his eldest son, Er, to marry.

Er was wicked, and God killed him before Tamar conceived a child with him.

Judah acted according to their custom, and he gave his second son, Onan, to Tamar to raise up an heir for his brother. Onan married Tamar, but he refused to help her conceive an heir to his brother, Er. So, God killed him.

One son remained, Shelah, and Judah feared the Lord would kill him also. At Judah’s request, Tamar remained a widow in her father’s house waiting until Shelah was grown.

Tamar realized Judah did not intend to give her his last son, so she disguised herself as a prostitute. She waited in the place where Judah would pass by. Covered in a veil, Tamar was unrecognizable, and Judah had relations with her. Judah offered to send her a goat from his flock, but Tamar shrewdly requested a pledge: Judah’s signet ring, cord, and staff.

When Judah sent the young goat to the harlot, his men could not find her. No one recalled a prostitute in that area because Tamar had returned to her widow clothes in her father’s house.

Judah received word that Tamar was pregnant, and he ordered the men to burn her. When they brought Tamar out, she revealed the items Judah had given her declaring they belonged to the father of her child.

Judah acknowledged they belonged to him as well as his wrong-doing. Tamar bore twins, and the oldest, Perez was a great-grandfather to the Messiah.

Can you believe these are the ancestors of Jesus Christ? A deceptive father who unknowingly slept with his daughter-in-law, and Tamar played the harlot.

Only four women are mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy, and Tamar is first. She is a portrait of God’s grace. Grace that says you can never stoop too low. Grace that says all can be forgiven. Grace that says your sins have been washed white as snow. Grace that says you are part of the family. Grace that exchanges honor for shame. Grace that chooses to forget the sins. God’s grace blots out guilt.

No matter who you are. No matter what you have done. You are welcomed into the family of Jesus when you genuinely ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. Grace awaits you today.

Lord Jesus, thank You for loving us enough to include guilty sinners in Your family tree. This demonstrates to the world that You truly give grace to the repentant sinner. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Read Genesis 38.


Does doubt ever cause you to question God’s love? Tamar’s story along with the others in Matthew’s genealogy prove there is no limit to God’s grace.

Copyright 2018 Carolyn Dale Newell.



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