Tamar the Overlooked

December 1, 2022

'Tis the season of Advent, when we eagerly anticipate the arrival of Jesus. (If you missed Jake's excellent sermon to kick off our Sunday Advent series, Waiting for Arrival, catch up here.) To "celebrate" Advent here on the blog, we are going to look at the four women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus found in Matthew 1. (Thus, the title for this series is The Grandmas of Jesus. Catchy, huh? 😉)

The first "grandma" mentioned is found in verse 3 of Matthew 1:

"[A]nd Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,"

Matthew 1:3 (ESV)

Tamar's sad story is found in Genesis 38. We meet her in verse 6 when she is chosen to become wife to a dude named Er. (That's right - his name sounds like a filler word in English.) However, Er passed away before Tamar bore any children, which meant she would have no one to care for her in her old age.

According to custom, Er's brother, Onan, was to take Tamar as a wife, and the first child she bore would be considered the child of Er. (This practice is known as "levirate marriage.") However, Onan didn't want to leave any offspring for his brother, so right at the moment of sexual climax, he would pull away from Tamar to ensure she didn't get pregnant. This displeased God, so the Lord allowed Onan to suffer the same fate as his older brother.

To lose two sons who both had been with Tamar caused their father, Judah, to begin to think his daughter-in-law was cursed. So he said to her in verse 11, "Remain a widow... until my son Shelah grows up." However, Judah had no intention of letting his youngest son try to provide children for Er because he didn't want to lose a third son.

Well, a few years passed between verses 11 and 12, and by the time the period arrives at the end of verse 14, Shelah is old enough to wed his oldest brother's wife. Yet Judah has not fulfilled his word, ignoring the problem by ignoring Tamar's plight.

Tamar The Overlooked • Riverwood Church

Can you imagine how Tamar must have felt? As a little girl, she probably dreamed of growing up to become a mommy someday, yet here she was in her "old" age having been with two men, yet still childless. And the third man promised to her has not been provided. She probably felt ignored, forgotten, and overlooked.

Being Overlooked

Have you ever felt overlooked? No one seems to notice you. Everyone seems to just go on happily with life, while you wonder if you are invisible or something. Eventually, you begin to question if you even matter or have any worth.

While you can read Tamar's story for yourself in Genesis 38, let me ruin the end of the story for you. Tamar does end up pregnant and gives birth to twin boys. One of those boys grows up to father a son, who grows up to father his own son, who also has a son, and on and on until Jesus is born to the Virgin Mary. In other words, God used this overlooked woman to eventually bring about the Messiah, because the Messiah came for the overlooked.

If you wrestle with your worth, question your value, and feel ignored, know that even if every other human on earth overlooks you, God sees you. He knows you. And He loves you. Because Jesus came for the overlooked Tamars.

Erin Bird Lead Pastor - Riverwood Church

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