Friday, April 11, 2008

Sweet Justice

by Kathy Lay

This Week's Verse:
James 2:26, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (NKJV)

This past week I have been riveted by the story of the Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado, Texas, where over 500 women and children have been removed under allegations of abuse by the men in the sect. My heart breaks as I read and see accounts of the isolation and injustice that went on behind the walls of the secluded community. But my admiration goes out to the courageous 16-year-old girl who was brave enough to risk her life and make that pivotal phone call to “the outside” to gain her freedom from a life of hell.

As of this writing, authorities still have not determined the identity of the girl who made that call. But I know this about her...She knew something was horribly wrong in her world and she knew it was worth whatever risk she had to take to right that wrong.

Though facing entirely different circumstances, this anonymous heroine reminds me of Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law, from Genesis 38. They’re both strong ladies who took action to end injustice.

Let’s recap Tamar’s story…

Dad Judah finds a great wife for Son #1 in Tamar. But Son #1 was wicked, so God smote him. According to Jewish law at the time, Son #2 steps up to the plate to give Tamar children, the first of which would be an heir to Son #1. Son #2 didn't like the idea of providing offspring for his deceased bro, so he...well, the first recorded method of birth control, check out Genesis 38:9.... Yep, that's what he did and the Lord didn't like it. So He smote him too.

Don't you wonder what poor Tamar was thinking at this point? Was she somewhat relieved that two evil husbands were in her rear view mirror? Was she beginning to think something was wrong with her? Was she already thinking the third time might be the charm?

Turns out it didn't matter. Yes, there was Son #3, but Judah, having lost two other sons, told Tamar to return to her parents' home and remain a widow until Shelah (son #3) was old enough to marry. She did. But Judah had no intention of letting her marry his youngest son—hadn't he already lost two sons who just happened to be married to her when they died?

Time passes, Judah's wife dies, and Shelah is of an age to marry. Tamar is aware of this, probably waiting in anticipation to be called back into Judah's house, but she doesn't hear spit. By this time she has to be sick and tired of the waiting. Tired of passers by whispering, “There's poor Tamar, a widow twice over and still no children to show for it.” Tired of being a burden to her family and tired of not having what under Jewish law was rightfully hers—another husband and heirs. I wonder if her heart cried out to God in the night as she asked Him to help her find justice.

Tamar hears that her father-in-law will be passing through town and jumps at this opportunity to square things up. She poses undercover as a prostitute and do you know that ol' Judah propositioned her?! For payment of her services, our smart Tamar asks for his seal, cord, and walking stick as collateral for a goat he'd send later.

When word is brought to Judah several months later that his daughter-in-law is pregnant as a result of prostitution, he's furious and orders her burned. But Tamar sends back this zinger: “The man who owns this identification seal and walking stick is the father of my child. Do you recognize them?” (v. 25)

BUSTED! Judah acknowledged he'd wronged Tamar in not keeping his promise and Tamar was subsequently blessed with not just one baby, but twins, one of whom was Perez, mentioned along with his mother in the lineage of none other than Jesus Christ. Tamar, who had been unjustly denied any children and who acted out in a huge leap of faith, was blessed by God beyond her wildest dreams by being included in the bloodline of our Savior!

Have you ever been so desperate for justice that you were willing to do whatever you had to do to obtain it? Maybe that's where you are now, on the brink of taking a big breath, shaping up a plan with God's full authority, and in faith, plunging in. The brave action of an anonymous 16-year-old secured not only her own rescue, but also the freedom of the women and children in the entire compound! Tamar's faith in action produced a lineage that saved us all from sin! And with God on your side, what will your faith in action do?

Father, thank You that You love justice. Thank You for providing it for those who have been wronged if only they come to You in faith, seek Your will, and then put that faith into action. We ask you to fulfill Your promise to set captives free. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Where has injustice kept you from claiming what is rightfully yours? In Tamar's case and also in the recent case of the polygamous compound, it was people breaking the law that imposed injustice on others. But the biggest enemy of all can also infringe upon our rights as heirs of God. After praying and searching the Word, what are some tangible actions you can take to see that justice is met? (And no, I'm NOT suggesting prostitution! LOL!)

Power Verses:
Psalm 37:28
, “For the Lord loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly. He will keep them safe forever, but the children of the wicked will die.” (NLT)
Psalm 105:7, “He is the Lord our God. His justice is seen throughout the land.” (NLT)
Isaiah 30:18, “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”(NIV)
Matthew 5:6, “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” (NLT)

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