The One Who Breaks Through
Introduction: Last week we got most of the way through chapter 38, but there are a few verses left to look at. The woman who seemed destined to be left barren and without a husband turns out to be the one who bears twins and also who finds God’s favor by becoming an ancestor of Jesus Christ.
Stories like this should help us to remember that God is in control and he watches over all of life’s details. He tenderly cares for the person who puts his trust and hope in Him. Today, we’ll see the explanation for why all of the details of this chapter were given and what it is pointing to.
These are wonderful insights given to us by the same God who placed the sun in the heavens and filled the world with good food for His creatures. His attention is on the details, and it is in those details that His wisdom and greatness is clearly seen.
Text Verse: Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1
Tamar was certainly in distress as she waited on a husband who would provide her a child. When she saw that she was being deprived of her rightful due by her father-in-law Judah, she took action in order to receive what she had been denied. God saw her plight and rewarded her by giving her children and the high honor of becoming an ancestor of our Lord.
Let’s see today how it all turned out and what this beautiful story is meant to tell us. It is a part of God’s word and so it is meant to speak to us – to our heart and to our soul and so… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. The Righteousness of Tamar
24 And it came to pass, about three months after, that Judah was told, saying, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; furthermore she is with child by harlotry.”
It’s been a bit more than three months and Tamar is obviously showing the signs of her pregnancy. And the word got back to Judah. “Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot.” Both words, “has played” and “harlot” are based on the word zonah, not qedesh.
We saw last week that zonah and qedesh are both translated “harlot”, but they have different connotations. Those who report on her say she is an adulterous harlot, not a temple prostitute. And then they add in that through her fornication, she is with child.
24 (con’t) So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”
Judah demands the full force of the customs of the people. Later, under the Mosaic Law, a person caught in adultery was to be stoned. Only the most wicked offenses were to include burning as part of the punishment.
Judah is demanding the penalty for something which he was equally criminal in, whether he realized it at the time or not. It also needs to be noted that the most violent death possible is demanded for adultery and yet there is no consideration at all when temple prostitution is involved. In fact, it is considered socially acceptable.
25 When she was brought out, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “By the man to whom these belong, I am with child.” And she said, “Please determine whose these are—the signet and cord, and staff.”
In one of the most ironic twists of the Bible and a note worthy of the greatest turning point of a movie or a play, Tamar – on her way to her burning, sends the signet, cord, and staff of Judah back to his hand with the response, “By the man to whom these belong, I am with child.”
The previous possessor of the pledge is now shown the error of his ways. What should have been his and in his possession has rightfully, though temporarily, belonged to a gentile who now bears the Messianic hope in her womb.
What was kept from her through stubborn refusal to meet his responsibilities, was granted to her by God who monitors his covenant, sees to His people, and cares for those who otherwise seem unsuitable to the task.
26 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.
Yes, yes it is true in fact
These are the tokens of my act
The child is mine, and all can see
I am guilty, and the offending party
His statement that, “She is more righteous than I” is her vindication before her accusers. And the reason is given. Judah knowingly withheld from her the promised child through his third son, Shelah.
This is the reason why we can rightly assume that she understood her right to the Messianic line. If it was to come through Judah, and Shelah was not to be given to her, then her act with Judah would bring about the child leading to Christ.
This is no different than what the daughters of Lot did many years before when they seduced their father. Their actions, though questionable on other levels, were with the intent of leading to the Messiah, which in fact happened. Tamar is such a woman of note.
With the act behind them, the record states that Judah never knew her again. This means that they were never intimate again.
II. Twins in the Womb
27 Now it came to pass, at the time for giving birth, that behold, twins were in her womb.
In a manner similar to Judah’s grandmother, Rebekah, Tamar is to be the mother of twins. For those of you who missed that sermon, there is an interesting squiggle for your brain in the word “twin” in Hebrew. It is thaomim and is where the name Thomas comes from.
This is why in the New Testament we have this verse from John’s gospel – “Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” John 11:16
He is Thomas the twin, but twin in Greek is Didymus. This is where we get our word “ditto.” And so Thomas is the Twin, and the Twin is the Ditto. Now when you meet a Thomas, you can explain all these unnecessary details to him about his name.
Thomas I’d like to ask you, “Did you know
That your name comes from the Hebrew word thaomim
And from the Greek word we translate as “Ditto”
Both of these actually mean that you are Thomas the Twin
Anyway, Tamar won’t just be a mother, but the mother of two children.
28 And so it was, when she was giving birth, that the one put out his hand; and the midwife took a scarlet thread and bound it on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.”
In order to establish which is the firstborn child for the giving of the birthright, and to make sure they wouldn’t get confused in the coming chaos of the birth of twins, the midwife placed a scarlet thread on the hand of the one who first came out.
No sooner is the thread on, proving he is the firstborn, then he withdraws his hand back into the womb. The elder son has to wait to see the light with his eyes that his hand was already exposed to.
29 Then it happened, as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly; and she said, “How did you break through? This breach be upon you!” Therefore his name was called Perez.
After the older retreats back into the womb, the younger breaks out to replace his older brother. Though not the firstborn technically, he takes the lead in birth. Because of this, he is named Perez – to break through or break out.
Little one, how did you break through?
I tied the thread to the other child’s hand
And now, this breach be upon you
What has happened is hard to understand
30 Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand. And his name was called Zerah.
Only after the younger comes out does the elder leave the womb. The one marked by scarlet, proving he was first, arrives. Because of this, his name was called Zerah, meaning “Dawning” or “Rising of Light.”
III. The Details Explained
There’s always a reason for the minuteness of details in a story like this. The names, places, even the way things happen or come about are used to show us other things. If the main details of the surface story were all that God wanted us to see, the contents of the chapter could be condensed into just a couple short sentences.
But the details are necessary for us to see greater pictures of coming events in redemptive history. I was having dinner with a friend during the composition of this sermon and she asked, “Why does God make it so difficult to see these things?” The answer is that there is something for people at every level.
That same week, I talked to five people who have very limited English ability, three of them on that same day. They all understood the simple gospel well enough to be saved. They may never understand the details, but they understand the overall, simple, saving message. There are others who find moral applications in the stories. Others find cultural and historical value in them.
Just this week, I saw a comment on the Bible website that I refer to for the Hebrew and Greek. It was from a secular historian, but he still finds value in the Bible for its historical importance. I challenged him to set aside his disbelief and come to the word without bias. If he does, he will certainly find more than just historical value in it.
God’s word is truly inexhaustible in how it can be viewed, understood, and shared. I’m a detail guy and so God has approaches for people like me. But my comprehension of Hebrew is minimal and so there are those who have translated and defined the Hebrew to help guys like me out.
Others have researched the etymology of the words so that we know where they came from and the intent behind them. And so on. No one person has a lock on God’s word. It is a gift for all people at all levels. Today’s story is another example of this.
Because this chapter stands alone and isn’t directly tied in to the accounts of chapter 37 or chapter 39, the first thing to be looked at is the context of those surrounding chapters. By doing this, we can see why the chapter was inserted here. And it was for a reason.
Chapter 37 detailed Joseph’s dreams which pointed to the coming Messiah and Joseph pictures the Messiah as well. We saw pictures of His coming, His death, His burial, and His resurrection. We saw Him sold off to the gentiles after that. All pictured by events of Joseph’s life.
Chapter 39 continues with Joseph’s life in a gentile area – Egypt. Because of this, we can rightly determine that God chose to place this story in this location to show something that occurs during Jesus’ reign over the church age. And so, from this starting point, we can then properly evaluate the rest of the story in that context.
The first verse said that “Judah departed from his brothers.” This is that starting point. Judah represents the Jewish people. The focus is on them and their relationship with the upright gentiles who are seeking the Messiah. The early church was entirely comprised of Jews. Eventually, gentiles came into the church.
Judah, which means “Praise,” goes to visit Hirah the Adullamite. Hirah means “Nobility.” Adullam means “The justice of the people” or “The righteousness of the people.” This immediately tells us that there is a pursuit of the law – the righteousness of the people, rather than a pursuit of Christ – the righteousness of God.
Paul explains this in Romans 3:21-22 – “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.”
Association with nobility and having justification before the people is of no account to God. Rather, he looks for those who seek Him through His provision. While with Hirah, Judah marries a Canaanite, a gentile. The daughter of Shua, meaning “Wealth.”
He has married into wealth, but he is left destitute of what is true riches. In this household he has three sons – Er, Onan, and Shelah.
Judah names Er which means “Watching or Watcher.” Judah’s wife names Onan which means “Strong,” and she names Shelah which means “Prosperity.” It notes that Shelah is named while he is in Chezib, which means “False” or “Falsehood.”
Being sons of Judah, they should be faithful to the covenant, but it immediately becomes apparent that they aren’t. Er, meaning “Watchful” isn’t attentive; he doesn’t watch out. In the New Testament, those of the faith are told in Colossians to be watchful, but he fails at this.
Judah gets a gentile wife for him named Tamar, “Palm Tree,” a symbol of uprightness. She has married into the people of God, but she isn’t treated as if she were the people of God. She, this gentile, has been selected to be the bearer of the Messianic line, and she is upright and faithful to her calling.
However, instead of being watchful, as his name implies, Er is wicked, as the reciprocal of his name implies. The Lord, who tends to His covenant, kills him. The Lord is building a house of living stones, but Er is inattentive to his duties. He is well-reflected in the 127th Psalm –
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain. Psalm 127:1
They aren’t a good match. He is wicked, she is upright. He shuns the Lord, she seeks him. Er failed to be a right mate for this upright woman. Because of Er’s death, Judah calls on his second son, Onan, to perpetuate the name of the one who should have been the bearer of the Messiah.
Onan, or “Strong,” fails to live up to his name. He was weak in his adherence to the honor and integrity he owed to his Lord, to the covenant, and to his family. The second son fails in his duties.
He openly shames the Messiah by destroying his seed on the ground. Onan, like Er, failed to attend to this upright woman, the gentile, who was seeking the Messiah.
This wickedness pictures what is seen in the book of Acts and even more so in the book of Galatians – Jewish people coming in to trouble the gentiles who are seeking after God. Instead of leading them in that pursuit, they introduce legalism. Instead of offering the Messiah, they offer works. Paul speaks of them this way in Galatians 4:17 –
They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.
After the death of Onan, Judah tells this upright gentile to “remain a widow in your father’s house” until Shelah is grown. Shelah means “Prosperity” and his location of birth is specifically noted, Chezib – “falsehood.” The name anticipates the story. The promise of Tamar having “Prosperity,” or Shelah, is false.
Instead of understanding that the wounds were self-inflicted by his sons, he places the blame on this gentile who is seeking the favor and the relationship with the people of God in anticipation of the Messianic blessing.
Each of these names has shown the relationship between the gentiles and the Jews in early church history. They mandate the law instead of accepting and explaining the grace. There is disobedience when there should be the proclamation of the Messiah.
Eventually, after some amount of time, Judah’s wife dies. Once the period of mourning was over, He and Hirah head for Timnah where the sheepshearers are.
Timnah means “a part assigned” or “territory.” It is the place where the sheep are being tended to, picturing the land of Israel. Sheep picture the common people in the Bible. Judah is going to tend to the sheep; the Jewish leaders are to be attentive to their people.
Tamar hears that Judah is going to Timnah and seizes on the opportunity to again be included among the people of God and be the bearer of the Messiah. In order for her to succeed, she takes off her widow’s garments and wraps herself in clothing that will disguise her. The clothing includes a veil.
The clothing and the veil are what disguise who she is. Judah, picturing the Jews, is blinded to the truth. Her clothing disguises her widowhood just as the gentiles’ nature disguises their called status as God’s people. This is seen, for example, in Acts 10 where gentiles are granted the same salvation as Jews.
The veil is the law and it hides the Jewish eyes from the work of the Spirit apart from the law. This is exactingly reflected in Paul’s words to the Corinthians –
Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3
The law could never bring about righteousness, pictured by Tamar’s faith. Instead, the Jews’ minds were blinded by the veil, hiding the truth of the message of Christ. At this point, I should remind you that this is a picture. Pictures are never 1 for 1 comparisons.
I say this because the sex and deception is not what is being focused on here, but rather that there is an overall picture which is being presented. God is using a real story with wickedness and intrigue to show us something else. There are enough specific details to understand the overall message.
Tamar sits at bepheta enayim – the gateway of eyes wearing unknown clothing and hidden behind a veil. Where there should be vision for Judah – there at the gateway of eyes, there is only a lack of it. He sees a zonah, a prostitute who sells for money, but instead, she is the upright person pursuing the Messiah.
And why has she done this, because she has been denied her right. Jesus would explain it this way –
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13
They won’t enter into the kingdom, but they will enter into a harlot. This is picturing the spiritual prostitution mentioned throughout the Old Testament such as in Jeremiah 3:8 –
“Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also.”
And so, thinking Tamar is a harlot, he propositions her. She asks what price he is willing to pay to have her. Judah’s answer is a young goat from the flock. In Hebrew, gedi izzim. This is an animal used for an offering to the Lord, such as in Judges 13 –
“So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the Lord.” (19)
In agreement to the deal, Tamar then asks for a pledge until the payment is made. The word for pledge here is eravon. It is an earnest deposit. When the goat is received, then the earnest can be returned.
This Hebrew word, eravon, which is used only three times in Old Testament, all in this chapter, was later adopted by the traders of Greece and Rome. It is used in the New Testament three times as well. All by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. Each time he equates it to our promised redemption, the sealing of the Holy Spirit.
Identical words between Hebrew and Greek are most unusual in the Bible and yet this word was carried over, certainly so that we wouldn’t miss the significance of what it is showing us. Here are all three examples from the NT for you to see the connection –
“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22
“Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 5:5
“13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14
Each time this word is used, it is referring to the Holy Spirit. He is the security, given in hand, for the fulfillment of every promise which relates to our salvation and hope of eternal life.
All who hold the pledge, and can so produce it, will be saved from condemnation and will be granted the eternal life. This is the surety we have because of our pledge, the Holy Spirit. And this is what Judah’s pledge represents.
This pledge consisted of his signet, cord, and staff which represent Judah’s identity, authority, tribe, and rule. This is what Tamar asks for and what is granted by him. And this is what passed from the Jews to the Gentiles during this dispensation known as the Church Age. By being the bearer of the Messiah – as Tamar was, and as we are – we share in His identity and His authority.
Tamar looked for personal justification by obtaining proof of her righteousness. Likewise, the Christian is granted justification and the proof is the Spirit. We are righteous, not because of intrinsic righteousness, but because of the giving of the Spirit based on the work of Jesus.
Remember the context from the previous chapter. Joseph, the one now picturing the Messiah, has been sold off to the gentiles. This insert story is given to confirm that and to show us the fulfillment of Noah’s prophecy over his sons from almost a thousand years earlier. That prophecy stated –
“Blessed be the Lord,
The God of Shem,
And may Canaan be his servant.
27 May God enlarge Japheth,
And may he dwell in the tents of Shem;
And may Canaan be his servant.” Genesis 9:26, 27
Shem would be the bearer of the spiritual legacy, but for a time that legacy would be transferred to the gentiles. This account of Judah and Tamar is showing us that. If you missed the earlier Noah sermons, and especially the Genesis 10, Table of Nations sermons, then you should watch them to understand this already prophesied event.
The pledge is given and Tamar, picturing the upright gentiles who have received Jesus, has ascended to be the bearer of the Messiah for a period of time. One must continue to think – Tamar bears the child leading to the Messiah; the gentiles bear Christ. Once the pledge was hers, she set aside her garments and veil and returned to her garments of widowhood to await the child.
After Tamar returned home, Judah sent the goat by the hand of his friend. But for the first time, his name is left out. Only the term “Adullamite” is used. There is no longer the name “Nobility” associated with what has happened – in either the picture or what is pictured. Instead, there is only the thought of self-justification.
During his search for the woman, he used the term qedeshah instead of zonah for “harlot.” Instead of a harlot for wages, Hirah is looking for a religious prostitute. There is written all over this a rejection of the Lord and the following after of one’s own devices. Every word is selected to show us the truth of the account.
When the message is returned that the woman can’t be found, instead of acknowledging the wrongdoing and accepting the shame for what he did, only a thought of saving face is noted. In the same way, Israel to this day has failed to acknowledge their transgression. The Lord states this explicitly in Ezekiel 36:21, 22 –
“But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went. 22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.”
The next thing we saw was an account reminiscent of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. The hypocrisy of the occurrence is palpable in both instances. When Tamar is found with child, blood is demanded.
And in the accusation, the term zonah is again used. She was accused of being an adulterous harlot instead of a religious harlot. In his hypocritical indignation, he demands her to be burned. The crime and the penalty will, in fact, be meted out some day in the future, but it will be for true spiritual harlotry.
And it will be executed on a global scale on Jew and Gentile alike. The Lord has made His offering and it will be rejected by most of the world. On that day, Revelation 18 shows us the consequences when speaking of Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots –
“Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.” (v. 8)
Unlike Babylon though, there will be vindication for those who trust in the Lord God. The evidence will be the pledge given to those who put their trust in Him. The great day is ahead and the token will be presented by God’s people, just as righteous Tamar presented the proof of her righteousness to Judah.
Remember, Tamar never received the goat. Her vindication comes from the sealing of the Holy Spirit and from the righteousness of God in Christ, not from offerings of goats and rams. This is exactingly explained in the book of Hebrews.
And yes, Judah acknowledged it. This is also future to us now. There is a day when all Israel will be saved. It’s shown multiple times throughout the Old Testament and Paul notes it in Romans as well.
The God of Israel, who was for a season proclaimed by the Gentiles, will again be called on, and attested to, by Judah – the Jews. And, although we are not there yet, this is why it is Judah who will give the one of the most moving speeches in the entire Bible in petition before Joseph in Genesis 44.
Benjamin, which means Son of the Right Hand, and a picture of the Son of God, Jesus, will be petitioned for by Judah in the presence of Joseph, also picturing the Ruler, Jesus. The symmetry of these Genesis stories and what they later picture in coming redemptive history are so beautifully woven together that only God Himself could have composed the Bible.
The reason for all of these things is explained by Paul in Romans 9. Why did the banner get passed from the Jews to the Gentiles? Why was Tamar justified when Judah wasn’t. The answer is found in these words –
30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. (30-32)
What the Jews sought, they did not attain, and what the Gentiles didn’t pursue, they did attain. But this is so that God can have mercy on us all, Jew and Gentile alike. And because of this, the words of Hosea, as quoted by Paul, ring all the more true –
“I will call them My people, who were not My people,
And her beloved, who was not beloved.”
26 “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.” Romans 9: 25, 26
Approximately 40 men interspersed in several countries of the Middle East, over a 1600 year period, penned a book which is so perfectly structured to match itself internally – on numerous levels, and in the chronology of history itself, that it could only have been written by divine inspiration.
IV. Divine Election
At this point of chapter 38, the pictures of Jew and Gentile are left behind to introduce another picture. One of Adam and Christ and one which is repeated time and time again in the pages of Scripture. The second replacing the first.
We’ve already seen it in God accepting Abel over Cain, Shem over Japheth, Abraham over Haran, Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, and Rachel over Leah. These patterns will continue throughout the Bible as God continuously shows us the patterns which point to the second Adam replacing the first.
In this chapter, it is Perez, the younger, being placed above Zerah, the older. Paul explains it in 1 Corinthians 15 –
So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. (42-49)
The unusual birth order was ordained by God to show us this pattern. The first, Adam, will be replaced by the second, Christ. And so it is with these two. Not only is the younger ahead of his older brother in birth, but he will also lead to the Messiah.
In Matthew chapter 1, Perez, not Zerah, is recorded in Jesus’ genealogy. And the other details, how interesting they are! Zerah’s name means “Dawning” thus picturing Adam who was created at the dawning of humanity. His hand was ornamented with the scarlet thread.
The scarlet pictures the sin of Adam. No sooner did Adam break out of the womb of creation, than he sinned against God, thus dying. Perez means to “Break through.” He pictures Christ who is the one who broke through the bonds of death.
Just as the second, Perez, first broke out from the womb
So did the second Adam, our Lord Jesus,
First break out of the tomb
His work was prophesied by Micah long before His coming. Using the same Hebrew word as the name of Perez, in Micah 2:13, it says this –
The one who breaks open (ha’poretz) will come up before them;
They will break out (paretsu),
Pass through the gate,
And go out by it;
Their king will pass before them,
With the Lord at their head.” Micah 2:13
Because of the Breaker, the Lord Jesus, Zerah’s scarlet, his sin, can be traded for something else. Isaiah tells us about it –
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18
Finally today, as a wonderful picture of what Christ did for us, we need to see where the dye for the scarlet thread came from in ancient times. It came from a worm which in Latin is called coccus ilicis. In Hebrew it is called towla. Henry Morris wrote this commentary on the towla –
“When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted. What a picture this gives of Christ, dying on the tree, shedding his precious blood that he might ‘bring many sons unto glory.’ He died for us, that we might live through him!”
Why would he make this connection? The reason is that this worm, the towla, is mentioned by name in the 22nd psalm, a psalm about the cross of Jesus Christ –
But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
7 All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.
10 I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb
You have been My God.
11 Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help. (6-11)
The Bible says that Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin that we might be the righteousness of God in Him. The red stain of the worm which made the scarlet thread and which pictures our sin was transferred to Jesus’ cross so that our sin could be taken away. Our scarlet for His pure, perfect, white righteousness.
It is an amazing trade and it’s all seen in this short account of two children fighting to come out of the womb first. If you’ve never been given the simple message of Jesus, His work which frees us from sin, please let me explain it to you. Calling on Jesus is the most important decision you can ever make.
Closing Verse: We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. Galatians 2:15-16
Next Week: Genesis 39:1-10 (The Overseer of the House) (97th Genesis Sermon) – Make sure to read and study those verses.
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and purpose for you. Call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.
Jesus, The One Who Breaks Through
And it came to pass, about three months after
That Judah was told, a story most wild
“Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot;
Furthermore by harlotry she is with child.”
So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”
After the distasteful news of which he had learned
When she was brought out, though reviled
She sent to her father-in-law, saying
“By the man to whom these belong, I am with child.”
The implements of which I am displaying
And she said, “Please determine whose are these
The signet and cord, and staff, tell me please
So Judah acknowledged them and said
“She has been more righteous than I
Because I did not give her to Shelah my son instead
And he never knew her again as time passed by
Now it came to pass
At the time for giving birth
That behold, twins were in her womb
Two more children to walk the earth
And so it was, when she was giving birth
That the one put out his hand before the other
And the midwife took a scarlet thread
To identify who was the firstborn brother
And she bound it on his hand saying
“This one came out first.”
The child for which you were praying
Then it happened, as he drew back his hand
That his brother came out unexpectedly
“How did you break through in a manner so grand?
This breach be upon you!” You little cutie!
Therefore his name was called Perez
This is his name, just as the Bible says
Afterward his brother came out
Who had the scarlet thread on his hand
And his name was called Zerah, no doubt
Wonderful details of a story so grand
These two children picture Adam and Jesus
And a part of the plan which God determined for us
Jesus is the One who breaks open, He so great
He will come up before them leading the way
They will break out and pass through the gate
And go out by it in a most glorious display
Their king will pass before them, with the Lord at their head
The same king who was crucified, whose precious blood was shed
And now He stands victorious over the gates of death
Pardon from sin
Is found in Him
And to us eternal life He bestoweth
Hallelujah and Amen…