Day 3: Vayeshev/Genesis 38:1-30
Torah gives us so much information. From laws and ordinances to genealogical accounts narratives and storylines. It’s important to note that all of this information, even in the form of allegories or narratives, is accurate (given the translation is accurate). Much of what Torah reveals can be thought of as symbolic or representational; yet, it is all Truth and has direct applications to our lives, just as it did to those who wrote it down and generations that followed.
This includes Yehudah/Judah as he leaves his father’s household to have a somewhat colorful experience out on his own.
In Yehudah’s departure from his family, he finds a new best friend, a wife, has three sons, makes a match for the eldest, his two oldest sons die, and then wanders astray with someone who was quite more than just a temple harlot. The patriarch of Messiah’s bloodline seems to have had an eventful life.
When he departed his father’s household, Yehudah seems to have separated from Israel’s Elohim, too. The two sons that died prematurely did so because the Creator took them due to their wickedness. Obviously, Yehudah was not teaching his children the ways of YHVH, nor was he walking in them, himself. The daughter-in-law, Tamar, was the eldest son’s wife, a widow. In her waiting, for years, she was righteous and faithful to the direction of Yehudah, saving herself for the youngest of his sons, Shelah.
As so much time passed, and Tamar’s full realization that Shelah was old enough to fulfill his duties as a brother-in-law to Er, she knew that her only recourse was to gain Yehudah’s attention. Instead of gaining Shelah’s husbandry, Tamar garnished a bit too much attention from her father-in-law. Yehudah had relations with Tamar, believing that she was a temple prostitute. Obviously, having relations with her on the pretense that she was a harlot was wrong; moreover, connecting the immoral act with a cult practice, implying Tamar was a temple prostitute, made it that much viler.
There is no doubt that Yehudah desired that type of sinful pleasure as he even paid Tamar with the pledge of his identity in exchange for her act of harlotry. Yehudah would have been known, as most of that day, by his seal that acted as his signature for all legal matters and business dealings. Additionally, cords of that day were like garment hems, which were identifiers of family and ancestry through design, colors, embroidery, and the like. His staff was not just a walking stick; rather, it was a tall and strong tool. It was used as an extension of his strength to ward off beasts or enemies and to identify him in the field since it would have been tall enough to be seen and recognized by shape possibly before recognizing the man himself.
Proverbs is full of wisdom in regard to avoiding harlots and their practices. It is sin to participate in their practices or to fornicate with them. When believers commit these types of sin before YHVH, whether a physical sin of promiscuity or a spiritual rebellion of walking away from Torah, then they willingly abandon their spiritual identity. They no longer have the right to be called sons of YHVH and obscure the mantel of Yeshua as their personage until they walk in repentance.
This should be a sobering thought as we contemplate sinful ways and desires of our flesh. Each time we step outside the boundaries of Torah, we lay aside the works of Messiah and recon them as foreign or estranged from us. It is only through Yeshua’s grace that He calls us back to Himself and places the mantel of forgiveness upon us, once again. Only then are we able to be seen through Him once again and to have His seal upon our heads to be counted as sons of the living YHVH. Only through true repentance and contriteness will walking in Torah/the Word, which is His Staff, will we be regarded as righteousness. That walk is only through Messiah Who is the Living Staff of the Word.
Messiah’s presence in our lives is the cord that binds us to YHVH and each other. As Yehudah gave up his identity in Israel for a few minutes of sensual pleasure, we sometimes give up our identity in Messiah to gain pleasure, wealth, or to be known or seen by others. In essence, we take off the spiritual and/or physical tzit-tzit/tassels commanded to be worn in Torah.
When worn, we have reminders all around us of YHVH’s commandments and our proper actions and responsibilities as Covenant keepers. When purposefully left behind, we disassociate ourselves from YHVH and His Truth. Abandoning the cord of Messiah, which unifies us with Him, leaves us open for attack from the adversary, and gives our flesh permission to sin. In this state, there are no identifying features of our Israelite citizenship. An identifying portion of the vestments is missing and righteous, Ruach born fruit ceases to be produced. When this occurs, how can the signet of approval be given until rebellion stops and teshuvah/repentance prevails?
The physical and spiritual vestments that YHVH gives to His household are for our good. Giving them to others as a pledge for payment or as a deposit for sinful pleasure strips us of our identity. It may not be immediately noticed, but like Yehudah, over prolonged time away from the source of righteousness, losing identity and faith eventually catches up with us and our sins are exposed.
Dwell upon Romans 13:13-14, “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Master Yeshua Messiah, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”