God’s Grace and Reward

“As he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And he said, ‘What a breach you have made for yourself! Therefore his name was called Perez”  (Gen. 38:29).  

- Genesis 38:27–30

We who confess the power of God’s grace must never lose hope that His Spirit can change the greatest sinner into the holiest saint. In fact, history proves time and again that those who oppose the Gospel most vehemently or flee from Christ most rapidly are often those who later confess Jesus most passionately. The Lord transformed Saint Paul from the Gospel’s fiercest opponent to the world’s most effective evangelist (Acts 9:1–31). Likewise, Augustine’s godless sensuality was no match for the Creator’s effectual call. No matter how far gone we think a sinner may be, God’s grace is greater and more far-reaching than any sin (Dan. 4:28–35; Eph. 3:8; James 4:6). 

Judah illustrates this truth perfectly. Here was a man so cold that he led his brothers to sell their own kin into slavery (Gen. 37:25–28). On top of that, he ignored his daughter-in-law’s desperate plight (38:11, 13–14). However, God changed his heart, bringing him to repent over his neglect of Tamar (v. 26) and later moving him to give up his life for Benjamin (44:14–34). Though he did evil like Simeon, Levi, and Reuben before him (34; 35:22), Judah’s repentance results finally in his preeminence in Israel (49:8–12), since God makes first in His kingdom only those who abase themselves and humbly repent of their sin (Matt. 19:30; Mark 9:33–37; Luke 15:7).

Tamar demonstrates the Lord’s grace a bit differently in depicting the great reward that comes to those who honor Him. This remarkable woman willingly left her pagan past to serve the one, true God and His people. When Abraham’s sons according to the flesh would not raise up children for him (thus ignoring the Lord’s promise), she showed herself to be Abraham’s daughter by faith when she risked her life to give heirs to Judah (Gen. 38:1–26). Her faith, though not meritorious in itself, is crowned when the Lord makes her a matriarch of Israel. Tamar is as important to redemption as Isaac’s wife; like Rebekah, the younger of her twin sons is a key player in God’s plan to save His people (25:19–26; 38:27–30). We understand this quite well today, for we know clearly that God used Judah and Tamar (through Perez) to bring the Messiah into the world (Matt. 1:1–17).

Coram Deo

Judah is one of many figures in history who shows us that there are no sinners too wicked for God to redeem. Those who commit the most horrific crimes can still be transformed and renewed when they repent and turn to Christ. If this is true, then we should never think that the Lord cannot convert and sanctify even the chief of sinners. Do not give up praying for and reaching out to even the vilest offenders of God’s law.

Passages for Further Study

Judg. 1:1–2
Ruth 4:9–12, 18–22
Neh. 11:6
Rev. 5:1–5

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.