Today’s Bible reading took me through two of the oddest chapters in the book of Genesis, perhaps in the whole Bible. Genesis 36 shares with us the genealogical record of Esau, Edom. Genesis 38 shares with us the very odd story of Judah and his family. Both chapters are the kinds that preachers skip. Both lead us to ask why they might be in the Scripture. And, I would argue, both demonstrate for us the sovereignty of God.
The Edomite chapter is not one of the more exciting chapters in all of the word. However, it is a chapter that shows us Esau becoming a great nation. There are tribes, leaders, and lots of children. The thought hit me, as I was reading this chapter, that God indeed could have used Esau to carry his promise. Esau fathered a nation just like Jacob fathered a nation. Esau’s character was not actually worse than that of Jacob. Yet, God, by his will, for his glory, out of his plan, chose to place the promise on Jacob and not on Esau. God reversed the natural order, making the younger son carry the promise, in order to remind us that he is the one who chooses, not us.
Then we watch the story of Judah in chapter 38. This story is fascinating, not dull at all. It is, however, also the kind of story that preachers often skip simply for its PG-13 rating. Judah is a scoundrel. Nothing he does is good until the very end. In fact, the only other thing we have seen him do is put forward the suggestion to sell Joseph to slave traders in chapter 37. Yet, we do see repentance in Judah’s life at the end of the chapter, and that will mark a real change of character.
The ending of the story in chapter 38 is where a great deal of the value in the story comes. Tamar is having twins. One of those two twins will carry the covenant promise of God. One of those two will be the one through whom Messiah will come. What happens? One comes to the point of birth and is marked with a thread on his wrist. Then, God reverses the birth order, bringing Perez out first. This is a miracle of God, one where we see that God chose the exact order of those two children. God chose who would carry his covenant promise. God moved those children so that Perez would be the firstborn and would be the covenant carrier.
Lord, I recognize here and now that you are in control. You choose your way. So often we think that our lives are the center of the universe and our decisions are the hinges upon which the world turns. But the truth is, you are far mightier than all that. You are in control. For this reason, along with infinitely more, you are worthy of praise and worship. You are so much greater than any of your creatures. Help me to remember and rest in your sovereignty.