God Accepts Even the Imperfect
TWO-PART STUDY From the genealogy of Jesus, we examine the lives of a number of individuals who would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society, yet God granted each of them the special favor of being identified as a grandfather along the lineage of our Lord Jesus. We select four persons for the study—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives. We discuss Perez and Boaz in this session. Obed and Solomon will be discussed in Part 2 of the study.
EARNED BLESSING AND INCURRED PUNISHMENT We learn based on the study that one can earn blessings even if he/she has previously incurred punishment. Earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. An earned blessing remains effective until fulfilled, irrespective of any other occurrence in the person’s life. Similarly, incurred punishment would remain effective until fulfilled, unless forgiven upon true repentance by the sinner. In any case, incurred punishment does not prevent earning blessing; it does offset, and is not offset by, earned blessing.
GOD DOES NOT NEED PERFECTION Therefore, a person does not need to be perfect to find favor with God. One could earn blessings or experience fulfillment of earned blessings even with incurred punishment in his/her past. The examples in this study provide evidence that all are invited to seek opportunities for blessing. Imperfection does not present insurmountable obstacle against earning blessing.
Perez, Son of Judah
PREMATURE DEATH Perez was one of twin sons that Judah had with his daughter-in-law, Tamar, after she presented herself to Judah as a prostitute and became pregnant for him through the encounter. Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, married a Canaanite and had three sons with her. He got Tamar for his first son. However, the son and his younger brother died prematurely because they lost favor with God. That left his third son as next in line to take over Tamar. However, Judah felt his third son was too young and feared he might die like his older brothers. Therefore, he told Tamar to “live as a widow in your father’s household” to allow the third son some time to grow up [Genesis 38:11].
CHILD WITH DAUGHTER-IN-LAW A long time later, after Judah’s wife had died, Judah was in transit through the area and slept with a woman he thought was a prostitute. The woman was his daughter-in-law Tamar. She got pregnant from the encounter and later proved to Judah that he was the father. She had twin boys. The older was named Perez [Genesis 38:29].
BLESSING FOR JUDAH God’s promise to bless all humankind through a descendant of Abraham [Genesis 12:3] was propagated to Judah through Isaac [Genesis 26:4] and Jacob [Genesis 28:14]. Jacob prophesied the blessing to Judah in his last interaction with his children in Egypt: “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his” [Genesis 49:10]. We also note that Judah offered himself to be enslaved in Egypt in place of Benjamin because of his compassion for the boy and his father and to honor a pledge that he made to his father [Genesis 44:33–34]: “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.” Therefore, we can surmise that Judah inherited his father’s blessing in addition to earning blessings himself.
INCURRED PUNISHMENT While we are not aware of any specific declaration of punishment on Judah, his marriage to a Canaanite probably was the reason for some of the things that happened in his life. Recall the elaborate effort by Abraham to ensure Isaac did not marry a Canaanite (see previous bible study at This_Link) and Jacob’s relocation to Paddan Aram in part to avoid marrying a Canaanite (see previous bible study at This_Link). Judah married a Canaanite either in disobedience to his father or because his father did not pass to him God’s displeasure with any of them marrying a Canaanite. The untimely death of his first two sons may have been punishment for marrying a Canaanite.
PARALLEL PROMISES Judah likely incurred punishment by marrying a Canaanite or sleeping with a woman he thought was a prostitute that turned out to be his daughter-in-law. However, any promise of punishment due to these actions existed in parallel with the blessing he earned or inherited. The promise of punishment may have been fulfilled in part through the early demise of his older children but had no effect on his blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Perez, Judah’s son that became a grandfather along the lineage of our Lord Jesus.
Boaz, Son of Salmon
PROTECTION FOR SPIES We don’t have much information about Boaz’s father, Salmon. But we know more about Boaz’s mother Rahab, the prostitute that harbored two Israeli spies in Jericho. The spies were sent by Joshua to scout Jericho and neighboring land [Joshua 2:1–24]. They stayed in Rahab’s house. However, the king of Jericho found out about their arrival and asked Rahab to bring them out. She admitted they were there but said they had left and she didn’t know where they came from or were going. Meanwhile, she hid them in the roof area of her house.
FEAR OF GOD She went up to the spies before they retired for the night and acknowledged that she was helping them because “I know that the Lord has given you this land” [Joshua 2:9]. She admitted to them that her people were aware of how their God led them out of Egypt and how they destroyed the kings of the Amorites on the east side of the Jordan. She feared their God because “the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” [Joshua 2:11]. Admitting that she helped them because she feared God was important. As we discussed in a previous bible study at This_Link, God promised through Prophet Malachi that those who fear him will be his “treasured possession” [Malachi 3:17], will be entered in a “scroll of remembrance” [Malachi 3:16], and will be distinguished from those that do not fear him. He considers righteous those that fear him. Those that don’t fear him, he considers wicked.
EARNED BLESSING FOR RAHAB Therefore, we can surmise that Rahab earned blessing because she feared God and demonstrated her fear of God by protecting people she believed were on a mission for God. She did not care that their mission was to spy on her people. The blessing she earned was fulfilled in Boaz, Rahab’s son that became a grandfather along the lineage of our Lord Jesus. Her blessing was not diminished or affected in any way by any punishment she may have incurred because of prostitution.
What We Learned from Part 1
WHAT WE LEARNED In this session, we learned that Judah inherited blessing from his father and earned blessing by offering to sacrifice himself for his brother. Also, he may have incurred punishment later for marrying a Canaanite or going to bed with a woman he thought was a prostitute that turned out to be his daughter-in-law. However, any punishment he incurred had no effect on his blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Perez, his son that became a grandfather along the lineage of the Messiah. We also learned that Rahab earned blessing because she feared God and protected people she believed were on a mission for him notwithstanding their mission included spying on her people. Any punishment she incurred for prostitution had no effect on her blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Boaz, her son that became a grandfather along the lineage of the Messiah. Please join us in Part 2 as we examine the lives of Obed and Solomon.