A Strange Reminder of Sovereignty (Genesis 38:27-30)

Genesis 38:27-30


27 When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.


            While the passage above might seem very obscure and strange to you, it is one of the most glorious little reminders of God’s sovereignty.  This passage is the conclusion of the Judah-Tamar story.  If you remember, Judah treated Tamar deceptively, refusing to marry her to his third son after his first two sons died childless.  Tamar, in a very unrighteous way, took matters into her own hands.  She disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced Judah, becoming pregnant by her father-in-law.  When the truth came to light, Judah confessed that he was an even greater sinner than Tamar, and he did not take advantage of her again.  (By the way, it is only after this point that we ever see Judah do good.)


            Then it became time for Tamar to give birth.  It turns out that she was carrying twins.  It was significant, then, for people to recognize which twin was born first.  God had promised that his plan would be carried through Judah’s family line.  In general, the blessing, the wealth, and the promise would go to the firstborn.


            Now, here is what we see that is interesting.  WE see a hand of a child.  The midwife ties a thread around the kid’s arm so we know which one is the firstborn.  Then, something happens.  The kid backs up.  The twins somehow swap positions and the other baby comes out first.  This astonishes the midwife.  The boy is named “Perez,” meaning to break through.


            What in the world ought we learn from this?  Oh, this story has a lot to commend it to us.  We see Judah learn about his evil.  We see God still find a way to use a scoundrel like Judah.  We see the sadness of a woman used and abused, and we certainly learn not to treat people like Tamar was treated.  But there is something more glorious and much more beautiful in this passage.  God’s glory is front and center if we’ll see it.


            How can we see God’s glory here?  God chose which child would be born first.  It is nothing short of miraculous to see how the children switched their birth order.  God must have done it.  It’s not like there is a ton of room down there for the kids to wrestle past each other.  No, God moved, and by doing so, he showed that he, by his sovereign power, was superintending the birth order.  God knew which child he would use to carry his promise, and God had that child born first.  But, instead of simply having that kid come out first, God made sure to show that he was the one who did it.


            Do you ever fear that God has lost control of the circumstances of your life?  Think again.  God is far more mighty than your greatest hardship.  He is in control.  He will accomplish is plan.  He will arrange circumstances so that, when all is said and done, God’s name is glorified.